WINTER HAVEN - On December 25th 2012, Arthur Lee Swafford, Sr. made his journey to Heaven, due to natural causes, to live in the light of the Heavenly Father and enjoy a reunion with the love of his life, his wife of 44 years, the late Roxie Joy Applewhite Swafford.
He was born in Medon, Tennessee on May 10, 1922 to Bernard Lee Swafford and Mossie Carolyn Babb Swafford. He spent much of his early life working on the family cotton farm.
In 1940 - always the patriot - he joined the Navy and began what would be the first adventure of his adventure-filled life. He was stationed on the USS San Francisco and was in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Being a Pearl Harbor Survivor was one of the greatest honors of his life. During the remainder of his naval career, he participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal and many of the other important naval battles in the South Pacific during World War II.
For his service to our country, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the Philippine Liberation Medal, the American Defense Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Medal and a total of 20 bronze stars. As a crew member of the USS San Francisco, his unit received the first ever Presidential Unit Citation. In his words, "The San Francisco was the "fightingest ship in the whole Navy"!
After receiving an honorable discharge, he worked for Western Electric as a communications technician. That career later took him to government work with assignments in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, California, South Carolina and finally Florida where he retired 25 years ago.
He loved being with family and friends, attending church, bowling, fishing, boating, watching old westerns, whistling and fixing things.
He was a life-long Southern Baptist and served over 50 years as a Deacon.
Known to his children as "Daddy" and his grand and great grand children as "Paw Paw", he will be remembered as a loving husband, the world's greatest Dad, Grandfather, Great Grandfather and a great friend to many.
He is survived by his children, Joy Lynn Swafford Elliott and husband Mike, Patsy Ann Swafford, Arthur (Coach Lee) Swafford, Jr., and Betsy Elaine Swafford Deal; grandchildren, Wendy Stoudt, Amanda Helms (David), Stephanie Hughes, Jeff Swafford, Lindsey Swafford Gull (Matthew), Parker Swafford, Kasey Swafford, Melissa Stoner, Colton Deal, great grandchildren, Ashley Youngblood, Matthew Helms, Ainsley Helms, Keeley Hughes, Olivia Swafford and Ana Jester. He is also survived by nieces, Carolyn Kirby Ogle and Lita Kirby Duvall (Carl) and by nephews, James (Jimmy) Davis (Margaret Ann) and Robert (Bobby Jack) Kirby (Mary Ray).
The family wishes to thank the Poppy Team of Good Shepherd Hospice for the constant loving care extended to our father during his final days.
Visitation will be on Saturday, December 29, 2012 from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm at Ott-Laughlin Funeral Home in Winter Haven, immediately followed by a graveside service at Lakeside Memorial Gardens.