George Sweanor, proud father, educator, and loyalist, passed away peacefully at home on January 3, 2021 at the age of 101, after a life very-well lived. The oldest of 3 siblings, George was born to George Edward Sweanor and Alice Mary McGirr on November 7, 1919 in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. His family moved to Newmarket, then on to Owen Sound, Oshawa, Toronto and finally to Port Hope, where he graduated high school in 1937. During the next 3 years, George was employed by the Royal Bank of Napanee, at a starting annual salary of $400. He enlisted in the RCAF on August 4, 1941, trained as an Observer (becoming skilled as a navigator, bomb aimer and gunner), and was then shipped overseas in April 1942. He became part of 419 RCAF Squadron, Bomber Command in WWII. On January 6, 1943, after first meeting at a town hall dance in Leamington Spa, England, George married the love of his life, Joan Saunders. Less than 3 months later and during his 17th mission, George’s plane was shot down; he was captured by the Germans and remained a POW for 800 days in five locations: Hamburg, Frankfurt, Sagan, Nurnberg, and finally Moosburg. At Stalag Luft III in Sagan, George assisted with Great Escape activities. George was liberated April 29, flown to Britain on May 14 (reuniting with his wife and meeting his daughter Barbara for the first time), and returned to Canada on July 17, 1945. George remained with the RCAF for 25 years. After the war, he worked as a navigator and instructor, flew all over the Arctic with a joint USAAF/RCAF team to test fly the LF Loran and map vast uncharted areas, and assisted with the Korean Air Lift in 1952-53. In 1957, as Chief Ground Instructor in Centralia, George met a Luftwaffe pilot trainee who had, as a teenage flak gunner, crippled his bomber in WWII. They became good friends. George became Military Commander of the “PIN” sector, DEW Line in Cape Perry in 1962-63, and served his final posting in Colorado Springs at NORAD HQ, retiring in 1967. George quipped that he was selected to open NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain site because he had the teeth to dig the hole.
After retirement, George took many odd jobs while working on his bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. He was subsequently hired to write the new modular curriculum and teach honor students in World History, Geography, and International Relations at Mitchell High School. After 12 years teaching, he retired for a second time in 1983. Early into retirement George wrote a book on his RCAF career: “It’s All Pensionable Time,” and became a founding member of the 971 Air Marshal Slemon RCAF Association Wing, serving as its newsletter editor for many years. George spent 12 years compiling a history of all Port Hope, Ontario veterans from the United Empire Loyalists through those serving in Afghanistan; he donated the work to the Port Hope Historical Society in 2011. As “Ye Old Inquisitive Scribe,” (http://www.yeoldescribe.com), George produced over 200 insightful blogs on his experiences and musings, publishing his last one on October 30 of 2020. George also spent many years carefully researching his family’s genealogy, first delving through the extensive microfiche collection at the local Mormon Church and then searching church records in Canada and England. He has provided his descendants a priceless gift.
George started a stamp collection as a kid, and this pastime led to friendships around the world, an education in geography, and an impressive anthology. George was a man of many opinions which he expressed both in words and writings, starting with community news letters in the 50’s. His opinions were often controversial, but they certainly provided for interesting discussions. George strove hard to provide for his family, even in difficult times. He directed many family vacations, which typically included teaching moments on geology, archaeology, anthropology and the cosmos – experiences his daughters grew to appreciate as they got older. He was a champion of gender equality, providing for, and promoting participation in, sports and education. As mayor of the military housing in St. Hubert, he ensured that girls got equal time to use the sports facilities and participate in team sports. Education was extremely important to George, and he encouraged all five daughters to push boundaries and have careers. George loved living in Colorado, where he resided in the same home for 57 years…. but his heart remained in Canada.
George is predeceased by his parents, wife Joan, sister Ruth Filiatrault, brother Trevor, and grandson Braden Bruington. George is survived by his 5 daughters: Barbara Jagoda of Colorado Springs, Diane Edwards of Toronto, Canada, Valerie Bruington of Basalt, Patricia Sweanor of LaPorte and Linda Sweanor of Montrose, as well as 5 grandchildren, 2 great grandchildren and other relatives. In his long life George encountered many people who valued him as friend, teacher, and even respected adversary. He will be missed by many. Ever the navigator, George would appreciate the acknowledgment that he had begun his 102nd circuit around the sun.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to New Century Hospice in Colorado Springs, the Canadian War Museum (https://www.warmuseum.ca/support/) or to the charity of your choice.
Given current circumstances, a private memorial for George will be held at a later date.