Lee Swinney, 97, of Wayne, died Friday, Sept. 8, 2023 at the Central Nebraska Veterans Home in Kearney.
Services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13 at Journey Christian Church in Wayne. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Journey Christian Church in Wayne. Burial, with military rites, will be in Greenwood Cemetery in Wayne.
Memorials are suggested to the Greenwood Cemetery or The Swinney Memorial Scholarship Fund of Hope International University.
Arrangements are with Hasemann Funeral Home of Wayne.
George Lee Swinney was born Aug. 24, 1926 on a farm southeast of Glenwood in Mills County, Iowa to George Emory and Lillie L. (Timmerman) Swinney. He spent his childhood attending country schools starting first grade at Four Corners and graduating eighth grade from Estes, both in Rawles Township. He graduated from Tabor High School in 1943. After high school, he helped his father on the family farm where he learned the meaning of honesty, integrity, and hard work. In 1944, at the age of 18, he volunteered for the draft and began his military service in the Army in January 1945. Upon completion of training, he was ordered overseas for the invasion of Japan. Thankfully, World War II came to an end before he reached the West Coast. He did his overseas duty in a quartermaster trucking company and Headquarters Company at South Pacific Base Command on the island of New Caledonia. He also attended the Army University Center at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii while overseas. He was honorably discharged two days before his 20th birthday in August 1946.
After his military service in World War II, he met and married the love of his life, Ila Jean Anderson. They were blessed with three children—Stacy Lee, Cynthia Jean, and Gregory Dale. He and Ila Jean made their home in Wayne where Lee served in the community for the next 70 years.
He was a charter member of the Wayne Jaycees where he served on the Board of Directors. Lee was a member of the Wayne Volunteer Fire Department for 31 years where he served as both Fire Chief and Assistant Chief. He was a member of the American Legion and a lifetime member of the VFW. He successfully ran for Board of Commissioner Wayne County 1st District serving for five years on the County Board. The Greenwood Cemetery Association in Wayne benefited from his service as Chairman for over 10 years. A turning point came in his life when, at 48 years old, he was baptized into Christ at Wakefield Christian Church.
He spent much of his life working in the construction business starting Swinney Trenching Service in 1950, later known as Underground Cable Specialists. A valued partnership with Great Plains Communication took his work all over the state of Nebraska. He loved the construction business, but even more he loved the people he worked with each day. Some of his employees grew to know him as a father figure and friend.
Making old things new again was a special gift of his whether it was with John Deere tractors, a 1935 Ford coupe that he drove as a teenager, or out-of-the-way places like Kings X. He was a fiercely competitive Cribbage player but at the end of the day, it was more about spending time with people and sharing life stories. While enjoying hunting and fishing, he was quick to invite others to join him in these adventures. His children and grandchildren consider their travels with him some of their most prized memories. Giving his family these experiences of travel (nearby and around the world) brought him great joy.
Lee lives on in the memory of his sister, Rachel Carlile of Glenwood, Iowa; children, Stacy (Gerry) Swinney of Chadron, Cindy (Whitey) Eckel of Merriam, Kansas and Greg (Laurie) Swinney of Kearney; grandchildren, Jennifer (Joey), Randy (Kaci), Ryan (Ashley), Beth (Matt), and Nathan (Emily); 10 great-grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Ila Jean, in 1988; parents, sister, Pauline Craig, several brothers and sisters-in-law, and granddaughter, Sonya.