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Published: Wednesday, 7/9/2003

Volunteer work was his 2nd career

ARCHBOLD, Ohio - Gordon E. Swaney, a food company executive who managed a processing plant here for decades, and in retirement volunteered to help developing nations improve their food-manufacturing capabilities, died Sunday in his Perrysburg home. He was 77.

Mr. Swaney had been in generally declining health and died of multiple organ failure, said his daughter, Becky Kasperzak.

A native of Chillicothe, Ohio, Mr. Swaney trained as a Navy pilot during World War II, then remained in the reserves for four years after hostilities ended. In 1947, he graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor's degree in business and went to work for LaChoy Food Products here.

He rose through the ranks at the Beatrice Foods subsidiary, becoming director of sales and marketing in 1960 and regional general manager of Beatrice's grocery products division in 1963. The latter promotion expanded his oversight to Beatrice subsidiaries in the Cincinnati area, Wisconsin, and Georgia, though he remained the Archbold plant's general manager.

Mr. Swaney retired in the early 1980s as executive vice president of Beatrice Foods and had planned a typical Florida retirement, son-in-law Dean Kasperzak said. But that was before he was invited shortly thereafter to join the International Executive Service Corps, a nonprofit agency that sends retired corporate leaders to countries where their business experience can be put to use.

His assignments took him to El Salvador, Malaysia, Moldova, and Egypt, among others, relatives said. Mr. Swaney was so taken with the program, he became the corps' country director for Indonesia, living there with his wife, Irene, for six years to coordinate other volunteers' work.

Mr. Swaney “was way ahead of the curve on executive retirement,” Dean Kasperzak said. “While most executives are buying boats, going to Florida, and working on their bad golf games, he found a way to become more productive and put his time and talents to use helping develop Third World countries. He was an inspiration to anybody around him.”

In Archbold, Mr. Swaney served on the board of directors of Farmers & Merchants State Bank. He was also on the boards of Fulton County Health Center in Wauseon and Tri-State University in Angola, Ind.

The Swaneys had moved their U.S. residence from Archbold to Sarasota, Fla., in 1985, then moved to Perrysburg last year to live near Mrs. Kasperzak.

Surviving are his wife of 50 years, Irene; daughters, Allyn Breech, Laura Orser, and Becky Kasperzak; and six granddaughters.

Visitation will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. today in the Kasperzak home. A memorial Mass will begin at 11 a.m. tomorrow in St. Rose Catholic Church, Perrysburg. The Witzler-Shank Funeral Home, Perrysburg, handled arrangements.

The family requests tributes to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio in Perrysburg Township.



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