Celebrating Frances Swart


— Melissa Hale-Spencer

DORMANSVILLE — More people turned out to celebrate Frances Swart’s birthday than she had candles on her cake. Swart is 95; close to 100 well-wishers celebrated her life on Sunday.

The covered-dish luncheon, featuring a table too full with food to fit flowers, was held at the Dormansville United Methodist Church.

Swart was born on March 16, 1910 in Dormansville where she has lived all her life.
"She said March is not a time to have a party," said her friend, Laura Palmer, explaining the delayed celebration.

Swart’s father was a dairy farmer and her mother tended to the house and children. Swart became a teacher, teaching in the Dormansville schoolhouse she had attended as a child.

Swart has written about her neighbors, as an Enterprise correspondent, for years. And, she has been a member of the Dormansville Church for her entire life.
At Sunday’s celebration, Rev. Steven Peiffer, who helped organize the party, read a declaration from a friend. Some 40 years ago, said Palmer, "Frances saved her career in teaching. She was ready to throw in the towel. Frances took her under her wing and encouraged her."
A proclamation from Assemblyman Jack McEneny was read, too. "She also got a card from Laura and President Bush," said Palmer.

Many far-flung admirers came to celebrate Swart on Sunday — including friend Kathleen Trenchard from Frostproof, Fla., and niece and grand-niece Valerie and Beth Overcash from Plano, Texas.
"The community all pulled together to make it a memorable day," said Palmer. "There was lots of reminiscing, lots of laughter...Frances was the reason for old friends to get together...She is really sharp; she’s got more history up in her head than volumes of history books."
Palmer concluded, "She is a good mentor, a good teacher, and a friend of everyone."

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