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Family man's efforts improved community life

| Saturday, March 1, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
William W. Swope of North Huntingdon died Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014.

Bill Swope's vast knowledge and unfailing reliability made him the “go-to guy” in his family, according to his children.

“He was my Internet before there was Internet,” John Swope said of his father. “If I needed to know anything about anything, I'd make a call. Whether I was trying to fix my dryer or bend a piece of metal — anything — he was just really knowledgeable.”

“I always relied on him,” said his daughter Sharon Decesere.

William W. Swope of North Huntingdon died on Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2014. He was 79.

Mr. Swope was a key figure in the early development of the Police Athletic League of North Huntingdon, which was founded in 1958. He served as a league board member and president, coached baseball and basketball teams and helped build the baseball and softball fields in the Shafton complex.

“He and a group of men basically built those fields from the swampy, awful dirt that was down in that area and the sludge from the little creek,” Decesere recalled. “Now it's a complex that hundreds of kids use.”

Mr. Swope worked as a quality control engineer for Nuclear Automation until his retirement. His community involvement included membership in First United Methodist Church in Irwin, Shidle Lodge, No. 601 of the Free and Accepted Masons in Irwin and the Keystone Champs camping club.

He cherished time spent with his family, especially when all of his children and grandchildren were together, his daughter Sharon said.

“He just loved being with all of our families together,” Decesere said. “He loved when we started having the kids and grandkids. He was very much a family guy.”

“I've never heard anybody have a cross word to say about my dad. Never,” John Swope said. “He was just a sweet-hearted guy. He's a lost breed.”

His father was a devoted husband and loving father and grandfather, an “all-around good guy” and an animal lover, he said.

Mr. Swope is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Norma Jean (Lindgren) Swope; three daughters, Sharon Decesere and husband, Richard, of North Huntingdon, Randi Wichrowski and husband, David, of Hempfield, and Lori Swope of North Huntingdon; a son, John C. Swope of Irwin; and five grandchildren.

Friends were received Friday in William Snyder Funeral Home, 521 Main St., Irwin, where a funeral service will be held at noon on Saturday. Interment will follow in Penn Lincoln Memorial Park.

Donations in Mr. Swope's memory may be made to a charity of choice.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913 or greinbold@tribweb.com.

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