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Obituary of James W. (Jim) Swinnich

James Walter Swinnich


James (Jim) Walter Swinnich, 65, of Homer, NY, passed away Monday, October 24, 2022, peacefully at home. Jim was born in Buffalo, New York to Walter and Janice (Shafer) Swinnich, both of whom preceded him in death. He spent his earliest years in Buffalo, and his childhood in California before returning to Western New York in early adulthood. He is survived by his wife of 28 years, Janet (Jasinski) Swinnich, brother Robert Swinnich of Ormond Beach, Florida, daughter Anna Velto (Jonathan) of Farmingdale, NJ, son Vincent of Homer, NY, and granddaughters Gia, Isabella, and Siena Velto.

Jim was a graduate of Buffalo State and University of Buffalo, where he earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in history, and Duquesne University, where he obtained advanced museum credentials. Jim emploryed his education and training in numerous positions, including as Town Historian for the town of Hamburg, New York, curator of the Naval and Servicemen’s Park museum in Buffalo, New York, and Executive Director of the National Soaring Museum in Elmira, New York. Jim also taught history as an adjunct professor at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, New York.

Jim was an enthusiast and avid collector of all types of music (except opera and show tunes). He had a special fondness for Mississippi Delta blues, an interest that, combined with his training as a historian, led to the publication of his book, “Living and Playing the Blues . . . On Dockery Plantation Farms.” He was an admirer and devotee of the music and cuisine of New Orleans, making numerous pilgrimages to his favorite city to partake of both its musical and culinary charms. Jim was a disciple of the game of baseball, and a lifelong fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and relished their recent World Series championship. Jim was also a lifelong fan of Chevrolet El Caminos, and passed a 1987 El Camino on to his son.

Jim’s family was a source of pride and comfort to him, and he loved them dearly. His family is very grateful to an anonymous donor family and to the heart transplant team at Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a new heart in fall 2008.

Memorial donations can be made in Jim’s memory to Donate Life America.

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