Ernest Charles Swigert Remembered
Ernest Charles Swigert, member of an illustrious Portland family, died peacefully Dec. 10 at home surrounded by his dear friends and beloved dogs. Son of E.G. Swigert and Francis Turrish, and a grandson of pioneering west coast industrialist and engineer C.F. Swigert, Ernest was born Dec. 26, 1925, and baptized at St. Mary's Cathedral Feb. 20, 1926.
Swigert was educated at Hillside School, now Catlin Gabel Academy, before attending Milton Academy and Harvard University. He proudly served in the 754th Tank Battalion of the United States Army from March 1944 until May 1946 during which time he received a Good Conduct Medal, American Theater Service Medal, Asiatic Pacific Service Medal, and a Victory Medal.
After his honorable discharge from military service, Swigert joined Hyster Corporation, a family business, and worked briefly in Peoria, Ill., before relocating to Nijmegen, The Netherlands, in 1952. Swigert left Hyster in 1960, and for the next 25 years made his home in a converted barge traveling the waterways of western Europe. In 1985 Swigert returned to Portland where he remained until his death.
Inimitable champion of animal rights and the arts, Swigert received many accolades, including the Simon Benson Award in 2002, honoring the leadership positions he took with The Oregon Humane Society, Delta Society, The Portland Art Museum, The Oregon Symphony, The Portland Opera, Pacific Northwest College of Art, The Oregon Historical Society and the Swigert Foundation, a charitable organization he established in 1990 with his brother H.T. Swigert.
Ernest, or "Uncle Ernie" as he was affectionately known, was a member of the Arlington Club, The Racquet Club, and The Multnomah Athletic Club.
Ernest was proceeded in death by his daughter, Francis T. Swigert. He is survived by his sister, Nani S. Warren; brother Henry T. Swigert; three generations of nieces and nephews; and his longtime companion, Nate Overmeyer.
A requiem Mass was said at St. Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Jan. 8, 2009, followed by a reception in the Kridel Grand Ballroom at the Portland Art Museum.