Bill Swarm, one of my favorite hikers, passed away in a drowning accident on Thursday at Virginia Beach. For the last five years, I’ve had the pleasure of hiking with Bill and his wife, Gerri, in Meetup groups where everyone appreciated Bill’s exuberance and his keen insights on so many aspects of life. Bill described himself as an “outdoor-oriented architect” who was often transfixed by old buildings, awnings, facades – and would patiently explain the history or purpose behind certain designs. On a hike early last month, he was thrilled to talk with a lady who was such an architecture buff that she named her dog Frank Lloyd Wright.
Bill was among the most conscientious folks to take to the trail. The last time we hiked together was two weeks ago on the C & O Canal Towpath. Bill was perturbed at how the National Park Service was neglecting the trail; he filed a complaint afterwards and posted photos and a comment noting the “willful destruction of 200 year historic tow path wall. Caused by negligence of erosion behind wall for several months. 18”x15’ holes need crushed stone and canal needs rip rap to prevent erosion.”
Bill was active in the Boy Scouts for many years. He was the type of leader who was a credit to the Scouts and a blessing to the boys he helped. His savvy in the woods was exactly the trait that made the Boy Scouts valuable to generations of young Americans. Bill was an experienced gun owner and helped other people learn how to handle and respect firearms. I enjoyed hearing his thoughts on the changes that Scouting is going through nowadays.
When I resumed leading hikes early last month with government-mandated limits on attendance, I made sure Bill and Gerri heard about the events because they were two of the friendliest, most thoughtful people you could hope to have on a jaunt.
I send my condolences to Gerri and to Bill and Gerri’s twin daughters and son.