Oura Lee Swart was born on 14 June 1936, in the family home on the Northwest Kansas wheat and cattle farm as the 13th of 14 children born to his parents, George Martin Swart and Zula May Gilkerson Swart. He died on 17 January 2021 in Fort Payne, Alabama.
Services will be held on Tuesday, 19 January 2021 at the First Baptist Church, Fort Payne, Alabama, with the Reverend Doctor Pat McFadden, the Pastor Doctor Marshall Henderson, and the Reverend Doctor Bart Hildreth conducting. At the conclusion of these services, Lee’s remains were transferred to Oakley, Kansas, where services were conducted by the Baalmann Funeral Home prior to burial in his family plot in the Oakley City Cemetery. The Pall Bearers were nieces and nephews.
Lee is survived by his older sister, Ethel Elizabeth Swart Smoots of Gig Harbor, Washington, and his older brother, Lloyd Robert Swart of Oakley, Kansas, and sisters-in-law Norma Lee Swart and Geraldine Marguerite Lintel Swart and brother-in-law Allan Louis Burns along with a multitude of nieces and nephews and grand nieces and nephews and great grand nieces and nephews along with one great great grandniece. A special friend and partner of over forty years, Rod Hildreth, also survives.
Lee was preceded by his parents, George Martin Swart (1888-1973) and Zula May Gilkerson Swart (1893-1969), five brothers, Martin Wilbert Swart (Mary Alma Hoover & Mayetta Bell Evans Decker), Alfred L Swart (Barbara Eloise Yale & Janice Edith Lessing Nelson), 1LT Ernest Gilbert Swart, Don Melvin Swart, John Marvin Swart and six sisters, Captain Dorothy Lucile Swart Tatum (John Merle Tatum), Georgia May Swart, Jessie Lou Swart Park (Aubrey Glen “Cub” Park), Bettie Jean Swart Burns, Gladys Louise Swart Rowley (Carl Robert Rowley), Carol Ann Swart, sister-in-law, Betty Jane Durham Swart and bother-in-law, Roy Edward Smoots.
Lee’s early days were spent at the family farm in Gove County, North Western Kansas, where he was born and during the winters of 1937- 1940 at the Swart family’s winter home located in a citrus grove near Donna, Hidalgo County, Texas. Unlike some of his older brothers and sisters Lee did not have to attend a one room country school, rather he received his grade and high school education at the Grinnell Rural School System. He graduated as the top student from his grade school and served as Class President three out of four high school years graduating in 1954.
Following high school he chose to attend Kansas State College (now Kansas State University) for three years and then transferred to the University of Kansas for the final two years where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-Accounting. At KU, on the day of graduation he was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army Ordnance Corps and was privileged to have his mother pin on his second lieutenant gold bars after being sworn in the Army.
Not being immediately required to report in the Army for duty Lee chose employment with Ford Motor Company in Kansas City as a Cost Accountant. After a short stint with Ford he was ordered into active duty with United States Army Ordnance Corps at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, where he began what was to become a full twenty year career in the Regular Army.
His first army career assignment was with the 9’ Ordnance Company in Western Germany, where he worked for three years with the U.S. Army’s nuclear weapons and missile depot (1960-1963). Following this interesting assignment, Lee was assigned to the V Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas (1963-1964), where he served as the battalion adjutant and commander of companies B and D of the 124’ Maintenance Battalion, however, within two years he was transferred to duty with the Military Assistance Command Vietnam serving as the Ordnance Advisor to the Vietnamese 7th Infantry Division (1964-1965), located at MyTho in the South Vietnamese Delta.
After a short stint at the Ordnance School attending the Ordnance Officer Career Course (1966) Lee was transferred to Tucson, Arizona, where he served as an Assistant Professor in the R.O.T.C. Department at the University of Arizona (1966-1969). After working with the cadets for three years he was transferred to the 5’ U. S. Army Headquarters located at Fort Sheridan north of Chicago, Illinois, where he worked with the development of the new Army’s Anti-ballistic Defense System.
This interesting assignment was followed by another year assignment in South Vietnam at the Inventory Control System Vietnam located at Long Bin, South Vietnam, working to keep the supplies moving for all of the U.S. Armed Forces, Australian Forces and Korean Forces (1969-1970), located in the Theater.
Then came the assignment to the Army’s Missile and Munitions School located at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, (1972-1974) serving as the Director of Supply and later Maintenance Directorate Another good assignment came with a return to the U. S. Army, Europe located at Miesau, West Germany, with an assignment to command the 9’ Ordnance Company and later to be the Executive Officer and Deputy Commander of the 72”d Ordnance Battalion (1974-1977) again storing and maintaining the U. S. Army’s stockpile of nuclear weapons arriving in or departing the European Theatre.
Lee lived in a large apartment at Hutschenhausenerstrasse 17, in Miesau, about a mile from his office. This was a great place to entertain fellow officers and their spouses.
On returning to the states in 1974 he was assigned to the 548th Supply & Support Battalion located at Fort McClellan, Alabama, where Lee served his last assignment in the U.S. Army. On 1 October 1979, after serving 20 Years, one month and one day Lee retired as a Major from the U. S. Army in a ceremony presided over by Major General
Mary Elizabeth Clarke, the Commanding General of Fort McClellan and only, the very first, female officer to ever be promoted to Major General. Lee chose to be free to enjoy his retirement. Now after forty some years into his retirement Lee has enjoyed years of travel here in the states and in Europe. A trip for a long visit with family and friends in Kansas, many long tourist type trips in the U.S. and in Europe were common traveling with his special friend, Rod Hildreth.These trips enabled Lee to complete his visits to each of the fifty states and 36 foreign countries.
Life has been good; and the wheat and com crops have been bountiful. On visits to Oakley in Northwestern Kansas, a visit to his property was always an enjoyment with his grand-nephew Randy Swart driving him from one end of his family holdings to the other in his pickup.
Lee joined a few special organizations starting with his life long membership in the Grinnell United Methodist Church where he was baptized as an infant and confirmed while in Grade School. Other organizations he joined in was the Grinnell Masonic Lodge now the Oakley Masonic Lodge #253 joining in 1959 over sixty years ago, the Valley of Leavenworth, Kansas, Scottish Rite 32 degree and the Isis Masonic Shrine Temple, Salina, Kansas.
Lee Also was a member of the Eastern Star, Radiant Chapter #229, Atwood, Kansas. Lee was active with the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution where he served on many committees and as Vice President General and National Trustee and the Alabama State Society of the SAR where he served on many committees and as President. He greatly assisted in forming of the Little River Chapter, SAR, in 1989, and was to serve as chairman of many committees and as chapter president for Little River Chapter.
In addition he was a member of the National Society of the Sons of the Revolution and, was the recipient of the “Minuteman” Award for his long and active involvement in the National Society of the SAR. He was also a member of the Sovereign Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (SMOTJ) and as a member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
While living atop Lookout Mountain near Fort Payne, Alabama, he became a member of the Fort Payne First Baptist Church.
Wilson Funeral Home and Crematory of Fort Payne, Alabama is in charge of arrangements. Online guestbook, www.wilsonfhinc.com