George was born in Denver on June 26, 1910, to Dean Swift and Edna Brooks Swift. At birth his pyloric sphincter valve did not function properly and he gained no weight for months until a nanny gave him raw beef to gum. (Take heart, parents of infants with physical problems.)
His memories covering such a long life show how much things have changed. One of his earliest memories, at age almost 2, was going in a horse-drawn buggy with his grandmother when the horse, Marion, tripped and fell. The first car he owned in his own right was a secondhand 1917 Model T Ford roadster, for which he paid $25. It had to be cranked to start and he had to jack up the back end when starting it because the drive belt engaged a bit and the back wheels turned while he cranked it. He always adopted new technology as it became available, including e-mail.
George had a keen mind and an excellent memory up until he died. He taught himself to read before entering the first grade, where he would then read stories to the class while the teacher worked with individual students. George, who was legally blind in his later years, was an avid reader until his last year.
He earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from the University of Denver. Upon graduating, he took the highest-paying job offered him in that time of depression: railway mail clerk. He continued this career until railway mail cars were eliminated. Early on, he dispatched mail to the Galloping Goose in Durango, and worked on the Cumbres Toltec narrow gauge railroad. Like all railway mail clerks, he became quite deaf in his later years. While in college he worked as a redcap, and at a resort in the summer. After retirement he worked for a nursery school, driving their school bus and helping out. He volunteered with the Boy Scouts and taught Sunday school.
George and his beloved wife Bernice, a Ouray native, retired to Ouray in 1972. He assisted every volunteer organization there for years, including visitor information at the caboose, working as secretary for the Elks, was active in the Lions Club, Council on Aging and as driver of the senior van. He and Bernice were foster parents in Ouray.
His interests included woodworking; making musical instruments; photography; hunting; gardening: oil- and watercolor-painting; singing in choirs, listening to classical music; acting; traveling and playing Scrabble.
George loved the mountains. He hiked all the trails and drove all the jeep roads in the Ouray area. He summitted many of the state's fourteeners. George is survived by four children, Ann (Rodney) Shaw, of Norwood; Carol Clark, of Lakewood; Rich Swift (Claudia) of Meeker and William Swift of Santa Fe, NM; grandchildren Enid Shaw Richards (Doug) of Ouray, his caregivers; Margo (Joe) Chang of Round Rock, TX; Brian Clark of Denver; Edmund Shaw (Susan) of Pittsburgh, PA; and M. George Rogers-Clark (Beth) of Mt. Vernon WA; and six great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife Bernice Henn Swift, in 2003.
A celebration of his life will be held Saturday December 4, at 11 a.m. at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ouray, followed by a potluck lunch. NO FLOWERS. Charitable contributions would be far more appropriate. Some he liked were Heifer International, Habitat for Humanity, Nature Conservancy, and DZi Foundation.