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David Swan
Silent Key: David Swan in Memoriam

David Swan

David Swan

We’re sad to announce that long-time APCO International Life Member David Swan passed away on Feb. 3, 2013. Swan was injured in an accident at home in early 2011 and had been in a long-term care facility since that time.

Swan joined APCO on Sept. 1, 1974. He worked as a radio engineer for the city of Peoria, Ill., from June 1975 through April 1992. After retiring from that position, he founded Swan and Associates, a consulting firm, before retiring once again in October 2010. Swan was proud of the fact that he maintained dual Chapter membership in APCO and was a member of the Missouri Chapter as well as the Illinois Chapter.

Swan’s passion for APCO can be seen in his service through various committees at both the state and national level. He served as the Illinois Chapter’s 30th president from 1979–1980 and also served as the Executive Council Representative to APCO International for Illinois. With respect to Swan’s contributions to APCO’s history, Ed Milam, the Illinois Chapter Secretary states, “Through the time I have known David, I have always been amazed at his passion to display the history of APCO in order to share as much as possible, with as many as he could. No one will ever match his efforts or passion toward [preserving] the history of APCO.”

Swan’s commitment to APCO led to his recognition as an APCO Life Member in 1995.

In 1982, Swan contacted Bradley University, a private university of about 6,000 students in his hometown of Peoria, about hosting the APCO Historical Collection within the Virginius H. Chase Special Collections Center of the university’s Cullom-Davis Library. The university agreed, and the APCO collection still resides at that location today, in partnership with the Illinois Chapter of APCO.

In August 2011, APCO International presented one of the association’s highest awards, the J Rhett McMillan Award, to Swan for his work to preserve and maintain APCO’s history, specifically for establishing the APCO International Historical Collection at Bradley University in Illinois and creating the online archives. Although he could not be present to personally receive the award, he recorded a short video to thank the association for the honor. “It’s been [awe-inspiring],” he said, since learning of the award. “It’s highly significant to me because I knew and worked with J Rhett McMillan as I moved up through the ranks in Illinois.”

Swan’s passion for preserving the history for our association led to an entire unit of APCO’s Registered Public-Safety Leadership Program dedicated to APCO History. He was always an advocate for chapters to maintain their own archives and secure a location to house them, such as a library or other public archive, that is accessible to all members. His hard work inspired many other APCO members to take steps to preserve APCO’s history by saving and sharing chapter charters, meeting minutes and conference memorabilia, and, most importantly, encouraged all members to save copies of our association’s publications—past and present—to further preserve our association’s history.

APCO Historical Committee Chair Rich Rybicki says, “I was always amazed by the passion [David] put into his work, especially APCO history. I really got to know David when he flew into Grand Rapids airport and we were going to personally visit local colleges to try and set up a library for the Michigan chapter similar to [the arrangement in Illinois with] Bradley University.

“I had arranged two or three appointments at local universities, but we were not having much success. That did not stop Dave. I think he had a brochure of local colleges, and he seemed determined to visit all of them. That was not quite the way I envisioned the day. Visit the contacted colleges and we would be finished. Around 3 p.m., I begged off on an excuse of needing to get home. So back to the Gerald Ford airport and get David on a flight back home. I learned a lot that day and I still await an opportunity to have an APCO library in Michigan.”

APCO Life Member and former APCO historian Lin Ford says, “It is with the deepest regret I have learned of David’s passing. I feel as though one of APCO’s great contributors has left us, not to mention one of my dear friends, fellow Life Member and mentor. David and I go back many, many years and our work in the historical arena of APCO has yielded so much progress in the preservation of APCO’s history, through his long and dedicated work with Bradley University, and his help to me with our efforts in the formation of our newly instituted Virtual Online Historical Museum. As many of the ‘old timers’ in APCO know, David tagged me with the moniker ‘Old Fossil’ during a conference many years ago – a name which hung on to this day and I now lovingly cherish. I cannot express how happy I am that David was awarded the J Rhett McMillan Award – he truly earned it and was a fine example of everything this award stood for. I will deeply miss my friend, my mentor and my coworker. David, may you rest in peace.”

“We are forever grateful for [Swan's] contributions to public safety communications and to APCO,” said APCO member Michael Banks in a spotlight article on David Swan in the January issue of Public Safety Communications.

Editor’s note: Thanks to Michael Banks, RPL, for his help with this article.