MADISON-Robert J. Swan passed away on Sept. 6, 2018, at home, from leukemia. Bob was born in March 1932, to Floyd and Emma (Perino) Swan in Grand Rapids, Mich. While in high school he borrowed instruments and beginner lesson books, teaching himself to play bari sax, oboe, French horn, baritone horn, trumpet and bassoon. He quit high school, bought a trombone and joined the U.S. Air Force. From then on, the trombone was his choice of instruments. He was stationed with the 745th AF Band, Barksdale AFB, Bossier City La. While there, he attended college and got his private air pilot license.
After his discharge, he heard the band at Lawrence University, Appleton, Wis., and was so impressed that he enrolled, majoring in Music and Drama. He also discovered football, where he played tackle and place kicker. After graduating from Lawrence, he taught instrumental music and was assistant football coach at Clintonville, Wis. There, during a fire drill, he met an art teacher, Pat Anderson, whom he married. They moved to Madison, where he first taught at Sherman Junior High. He taught in area colleges and the UW Extension and played in many bands, Madison Jazz Express, Dick Jurgens Band and especially “Roger Holten and the Twilighters,” and many stage shows and circuses. Folk music instruments were another interest. “You bring your trombone to a party and everyone leaves, but bring a guitar and you are welcome.” Bob organized Pickin’ and Grinnin’ workshops with instruction, open mikes, dancing and sharing. Bob began the New Horizon Band connected with Ward Brodt Music Mall, a band for older people who used to play or were beginners. That band has continued for about 26 years. Bob and Pat both played tuba in this band. Bob’s love of music has enriched many lives.
Survivors include his wife Pat; children, Pam (Paul Toepfer) Lisa Meyer and Brian (Concetta) Swan; grandkids, Maxwell Toepfer, Amanda (Neil Germain), Jessica Swan, Jonathon Swan and Jadon Swan; great-grandkids, Jax and Gwendolyn Rose; and his sisters, Sue Fruent and Kay Taebel.
Thanks to SSM Hospice. A Celebration of Life will be held on Sept. 27, 2018, at the VFW CLUB, 301 Cottage Grove Road, Madison, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.