Robert J. Swan

Veteran, professor, educational advocate

Robert J. Swan, PhD died peacefully at Mt. San Antonio Gardens on August 23, 2012. He was 88 years old.

Mr. Swan was born on October 13, 1923 in Madison, Wisconsin to Bert H. and Helen J. Swan. His father was a brick mason and later a building contractor. He grew up across the street from Lake Monona, and the family always had various boats and other watercraft around. His brother, Richard “Dick” T. Swan, called him a “bookworm,” a trait that probably helped lead him to a career as a professor and to his lifelong love of education. 

Mr. Swan served his country in the Army during World War II. He was trained to translate and decipher captured Japanese documents. After the war, he married Barbara J. Swan, the mother of his 4 children, who preceded him in death after 57 years of marriage in 2003. 

Mr. Swan finished his bachelor’s at the University of Michigan in Far East studies. He then went on to complete a master’s in public administration in 1948 and a doctorate in educational psychology in 1953, both at the University of Minnesota. Mr. Swan later was a professor at California State University at Long Beach for 25 years. While there, he was recognized for being a stimulating teacher and mentor to students, and established a master’s program for career counseling and an educational clinic for adults and children with learning disabilities. 

Among other professional awards, Mr. Swan was honored by the California Career Development Association in 1995. The organization named an award after him, the “Robert Swan Lifetime Achievement in Career Development,” which is presented annually to professionals who make significant contributions to the field.

The Swans moved to Mt. San Antonio Gardens in 2001, shortly after Ms. Swan retired as a kindergarten teacher. Mr. Swan continued his educational research into his 80s. He was particularly concerned about the sensitivity of some students to excessive artificial light in modern school buildings, especially fluorescent lighting, and how this influenced their ability to learn to read.

Mr. Swan loved living in Claremont, where there sometimes seemed to be more professors than students. He also loved the pipe organ at the Claremont United Church of Christ, and found Mt. San Antonio Gardens and the Claremont community to be supportive and intellectually stimulating.

Mr. Swan’s children will always remember him as a kind, loving and generous father and husband, who worked hard to improve the lives of others.

Mr. Swan’s 4 children, Jeff, Cathy, Larry and Doug, invite anyone who knew their father to a memorial service celebrating his life at the Claremont United Church of Christ on Saturday, September 29  at 10 a.m. (233 W. Harrison Ave., corner of Harvard and Harrison Avenues). A reception will follow.

Memorial gifts in lieu of flowers may be sent to: The Barbara and Robert Swan Scholarship Fund, c/o Arizona Community Foundation, 2201 E. Camelback Rd., Suite 202, Phoenix, AZ, 85016

Memorial gifts should be made to “ACF-Swan Scholarship Fund.”





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