Gwen W. Swann, 90, a resident of Jerome, passed away on Saturday, December 18, 2021 at her home in Jerome. Funeral arrangements are under the care and direction of Rosenau Funeral Service - Twin Falls.
Lillie Gwen Wheeler Swann, loving wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister and aunt passed away at her home Saturday December 18, 2021 surrounded by the love of her family.
Gwen was born December 19, 1930 to William George and Annie Wheeler in Trenton, Utah. She joined siblings; Lena, Lawrence (Pat), Winona, Donna and Irene. Carl and Marva later joined the family. Gwen’s father Bill passed when Gwen was eight years old, leaving her mother with eight children to care for. Gwen graduated 8th grade from North Cache Valley Junior High in Richmond, UT.
Gwen joined the work force at an early age doing house work and childcare, in an effort to help her mother and siblings. For a while she provided housekeeping services for Ray and Gwen Nielsen and childcare for their son Craig Hart Nielsen, while they attended to their pool hall in Logan, UT. Craig Hart Nielsen, along with his parents, later founded Ameristar Casinos. Gwen was always proud of this connection to the Nielsen family.
In her teens, Gwen’s long legs swiftly carried her across the length of a park and she caught the eye of a young man enjoying the day with his friends. He turned to his friend, who was dating Gwen’s older sister Irene, and said “I’m going to marry those legs”. And so, it became history. Gwen and Ephraim Jean Swann married November 26, 1947 in the Logan, UT temple. Jean was enlisted in the US Army and this allowed Gwen, Jean and their children Paul, Peggy, Bill and Lozanna the opportunity of travel throughout his military career. While raising their family, Gwen and Jean lived in California, Idaho, Utah, Kansas, Germany and Washington. While stationed in Europe, Gwen and Jean enjoyed a belated honeymoon in Italy. They always had cameras in hand and recorded the wonderful excursions to castles, lakes, historical monuments, and family events. Gwen was the glue that kept her family together, especially throughout the military years. The Army would give Jean his orders and it was always up to Gwen to get herself and children to the new destination. Her children often joked that it was she that kept them alive and in one piece all those years. Gwen often expressed a feeling of inferiority, with her 8th grade education, compared to husband Jean’s intellect and extensive education. However, it was her common sense, keen sense of direction, hard work and determination that helped her family survive and prosper. At first, military life was a challenge for a small-town girl from Utah, but eventually she handled it like a seasoned pro.
While stationed in Washington, Jean retired from the military and began his journey as a high school teacher. This change in occupation landed the family in Idaho and later in Jerome, where Gwen resided for the remainder of her life.
Gwen was a very hard worker and always held down jobs (sometimes multiple) while helping to raise her family and caring for her home. She often worked over forty hours a week outside the home, but always made time to care for her family’s needs. Often, she would stay up through the late-night hours sewing clothing or costumes for her children and still get up and go to work the following day. Not only was she a devoted and hardworking employee, mother and wife, she was also a talented seamstress, ceramicist, artist, embroiderer, cook, gardener and decorator. She held various jobs outside the home and her strong work ethic often preceded her. Prior to moving to Idaho, Gwen worked as a grocery cashier. Even before the family was settled in Jerome, word got out that she was here and the manager of Safeway came asking her to join their team. Gwen worked for the Jerome Safeway performing jobs as cashier, stocking shelves, unloading freight, working the meat department and any other job that needed attending. Gwen was a powerhouse of an employee and always a pleasure to work with and was admired by her co-workers and customers. Gwen became interested in the process of creating ceramics and eventually she and husband Jean started her home-based ceramic studio. This was hard work but it allowed Gwen the opportunity to explore her creativity. She excelled at ceramics and gained many loyal customers and friends. Jean and Gwen both enjoyed the outdoors, especially when she, her siblings and their families, would gather for camping trips fondly called the Wheeler Roundups. Many happy memories were created during these times. Gwen loved being surrounded by family and loved ones. Her home often became the gathering place for family holidays and she went all out for the event or activity, cooking up delectable meals adorned by glorious settings.
Jean passed away in 1998 and Gwen worked hard to remain independent keeping up on her home and gardens in Jerome. She became a lifetime Jazz basketball fan and enjoyed watching the games with sister Irene and son in law Jim. She even had the opportunity to see a live Jazz game with daughter Peggy, sister Irene and niece Renae Porter. She eventually became friends with her neighbor, Werner “Bill” Graeper. Gwen and Bill had a wonderful relationship until Bill’s passing in 2012. Gwen continued to live independently in her home until she contracted Covid in May of 2021. Always a fighter, Gwen battled the elements of the virus, but the impact of the illness eventually caused her passing.
Gwen will always be fondly remembered and cherished by her family and loved ones.
Gwen is survived by her brother Carl (Darla) Wheeler of Brigham, UT, sister Marva (Rulon) Rees of Nampa, son Paul Gene (Judy) Swann of Colorado Springs, CO, daughter Peggy Marie (Andy) Flores of Boise, son William Ray (Kathy) Swann of Inkom, and daughter Sara Lozanna (Jim) Cromer of Jerome. Grandchildren; Amanda (Swann) Wright, David Swann, Daniel Swann, Tony Flores, Joe Flores, Amelia (Flores) Barry, Michael Flores, Jeanna (Flores) Hebert, Brad Swann, Jared Swann, Greg Swann, Jeff Swann, Andrea (Swann) Munguia, Rachel (Swann) Beebe, Angela (Cromer) Whitaker, PaTricia Cromer, multiple nieces, nephews and great grandchildren.
A graveside service is scheduled for 12:00 pm Saturday January 15, 2022 at the Jerome Cemetery.