MADISON-John E. Swinburne, a well-loved and godly man, who loved life, died at St. Mary's Hospital on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2017.
He was 96 years old. He was married to Lillian Braue Swinburne, the true love of his life for 63 years.
John will be remembered for the many hours he spent in daily prayer for the needs of others. He lived his life blessing others with his great sense of humor, his positive cheerful attitude, and his love of time spent together playing various games, including one in which he patented, “Lucky Skill”.
John lived a full life, not just for himself, but much more so for others. John E. Swinburne, the oldest of three sons, was born in Delhi, Iowa on Aug. 4, 1921, to Harry W. Swinburne, Sr. and Bertha Ryan Swinburne. He was born with an inactive left eye, although this was unknown until John was eight years old.
John attended Delhi Consolidated School where he enjoyed many sports including running, softball, basketball, and soccer. John was a Boy Scout for many years, reaching the level of Life Scout. His scouting days reinforced his desire to be a good citizen.
John had a happy boyhood full of enjoyable times with family and friends, hard work, and travel with his parents. He spent long days working with his father, Harry W. Swinburne, Sr., raising a variety of poultry and game birds that were sold worldwide. After each season of hard work, the family would travel through many U.S. and Canadian National Parks, and would eventually spend their winters in Texas. While working with the birds, John injured his right eye and eventually lost that eye. This prevented him from graduating with his classmates, but he returned to school to complete his diploma before his marriage to Lillian in 1948.
The world changed suddenly on Dec. 11, 1941, with the declaration of war. Because of John’s eye injury, no one expected that he would be accepted by the U.S. Army when he went to enlist. When accepted, nobody believed that he would serve overseas. All bets were off as he shipped out a month later. John served in the U.S. Army Transportation Corps in the Asiatic/Pacific Theater, as well as in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in the European/North African Theater during World War II. He served honorably from August 1942 to July 1945. In April 2012, John had the pleasure of taking an Old Glory Honor Flight to Washington D.C.
After the War, John was unsure about returning to the game bird partnership with his Dad and settling back in the small town of Delhi, Iowa. He made the decision to hitchhike to Madison, Wis. to look for other possibilities. Being a veteran of World War II, he was able to land a job quickly at the Veterans Hospital as a dining room attendant. When the hospital closed in the spring of 1948, John got a job at the Romie Vetter Insurance Agency. During that time, he met his future bride, Lillian, while at a dance. Besides dancing, they enjoyed movies and long walks together. Lillian accepted John’s proposal of marriage in August 1948. On the day before their wedding, John sold seven life insurance policies. He often joked that those seven policies predicted the births of his future seven children!
On Oct. 23, 1948, he married Lillian Alice Braue. The wedding took place at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Briggsville (Lewiston Township), Wis. After their honeymoon, the couple happily resided in Madison, Wis., where John was an insurance salesman and later, a real estate broker, owning his own company. Much of John’s adult life was spent raising seven children and buying, selling, and trading real estate. John always provided well for his children in all areas of life. Travel, through much of the country and many of the National Parks, was one of the many blessings he gave to his children. There is nothing like a road trip in a nine-passenger station wagon to draw a family together!
John was very involved with the activities of his churches; first, as a young father at the Free Methodist Church, and later at Evangel Life Center, both in Madison, Wis. He led many Bible studies, both at church and at nursing homes in Madison. While John was not pushy about his faith, he wanted the whole world, and especially those in his sphere of influence, to come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
John loved to learn new things and enjoyed writing out his thoughts on various topics to share with his family and friends. He wrote his autobiography, as well as “A Father’s Legacy” and “A Grandfather’s Legacy” which he self-published for his family and friends.
Because John was legally blind, he used a reading glass when he had to read. In later years, he loved to “read” using his books on tape. He especially loved westerns by Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey, as well as the works of Karen Kingsbury. John always willingly shared his books with others.
John is survived by his brother, Bruce R. (Mary Lou) Swinburne; children Faith A. Swinburne, David (Lynn) Swinburne, Roseanne (Mike) Sanderfoot, Janine (Dave) Harris, Annette (Jeff) Wiemann, and Dawn (Jac) Kollak; grandchildren, Holly Swinburne (Noe) Clemente, Alissa Swinburne, Charissa Wiemann (Nick) Jakusz, Sheree Wiemann (Josh) Van Dinter, Makenzie Koeshall (Joshua) James, Hunter Koeshall; great-grandchildren, Azalea Jakusz, Uriah Clemente, Keyli Clemente, Aislynn Clemente, Matthias Clemente, Canaan Clemente, and Jathan Clemente. John is further survived by a variety of cousins, nieces, nephews and great-nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Harry W. Swinburne, Sr. and Bertha Ryan Swinburne; his brother, Harry W. Swinburne, Jr.; his wife and the love of his life, Lillian Braue Swinburne; a son, Stephen Grant Swinburne; as well as three preborn great-grandchildren.
A Celebration of Life service will be held at LIFE CENTER, 4402 Femrite Drive, Madison, Wis., on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, at 11 a.m. Visitation will be held at the church on Saturday from 10 a.m. until the time of the service. Burial will follow at Sunset Memory Gardens in Madison. T
he family would like to express our sincere thanks to the St. Mary's Hospital team, and especially to Nurse Sara, who was a God-send to our family during this difficult time.