Forrest Alexander Swatman passed away peacefully with his family by his side on July 17, 2020 in Chelsea, Michigan. He was born on February 16, 1921, the son of Forest and Ruey (Cory) Swatman. There wasn’t a person he didn’t like nor one that didn't thoroughly enjoy him. He was a kind hearted, loving, honorable, positive, funny and hard working man that left a lasting legacy on this world.
Forrest was the 7th of 9 children in the Swatman family. He was born in Ecorse, MI but moved to the Cory farm on Kinley Rd. in St. Johns, MI when he was 8 years old. He attended Greenwood Country School through the 8th grade. Growing up on the farm Forrest learned to work on cars from his brother, Dick, who was a mechanic at the Ford Garage. As a teenager he worked on the family cider mill on their farm. They would press the apples for Beck’s Cider Mill. Beck’s would then sell the cider in Lansing and other areas. Forrest attended Rodney B. Wilson High School where he played the drums in the band. As a teenager he met his future wife, Doris Heathman, at Christian Endeavor through the Congregational Church, the church he joined and remained a member throughout his life. Forrest graduated from RBW High School in 1939 on a Wednesday and started work the next morning at Packard Desoto Plymouth Garage as a mechanic. He worked there until he left for the service in 1942.
Forrest was a veteran of World War II. He was in the Army Air Force for almost 4 years, spending three of those in England, France, Belgium and Germany as a Tech Sergeant crew chief of B26 bombers with the 450th Bomb Squadron and the 322nd Bomb group. He was part of battles and campaigns for Air Offensive-Europe, Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, Central Europe, and the Battle of the Bulge. Forrest received the Bronze Star, the Good Conduct Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge and the European African Middle Eastern Service Medal with 6 Bronze Stars. Forrest was always a dependable, hard worker. He was discharged on a Friday night in Pennsylvania, got home on Saturday night and on Monday he rode to work with his dad and was running a lathe at Saylor Beal in St. Johns by 6:50 am. One of his happiest moments was getting out of the service and returning to St. Johns to Doris and his family. Forrest and Doris were married on December 2nd, 1945 and were married 73 years. Together they enjoyed reunions over the years with his Army Air Force buddies. They met all over the country as well as where they had served. One of the planes that Forrest took care of, Flak Bait, has been on display at the Air and Space Museum in Washington DC. Forrest prepped that plane for its final flight to Washington. When Forrest went to Washington to see his plane, Flak Bait, people overheard him talking and soon a large crowd gathered to hear stories of the War and the history of the plane.
Forrest owned and operated Swatman Standard Service Station on the corner of M21 and US27 for 25 years. He was dedicated and determined to take good care of the public by doing an excellent job servicing their cars. He took great pride in his work and expected that from his employees. Over the years he had many kids working and learning from him. Many have come back and thanked him for teaching them. When he retired from the gas station, he continued to work with cars becoming a salesman at Bee’s Chevrolet and Olds in St Johns for more than 17 years. Many customers followed him there because they trusted him.
Forrest was also a family man. He and his wife Doris worked together to build their first home at 408 S. Prospect Street in St. Johns. There he was a kind, caring and devoted father to his son, Brian, and daughter, Lexa. Many happy moments took place in that home. Family was important to Forrest and he worked hard each day to make sure he provided for his family. Large family gatherings at holidays often took place in the Swatman home with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all in attendance.
In his spare time, Forrest had many hobbies. He became an accomplished carver making many ducks, Santas, and other Christmas items. He and Doris enjoyed dancing twice a week, he played golf and was still on a league at age 96, and he enjoyed playing cards with friends and family. He and Doris could also be seen enjoying daily walks around town, usually traveling 2 miles each day. He always took time to talk to anyone he met, showing genuine care and interest in their lives, and was known to always have a joke ready to tell. Forrest also loved following the stock market and instilled this love into his grandson. Another grandson took on his love of working with wood, and his granddaughter teaches others and makes everything fun for those around her. You will always see glimpses of Forrest in the qualities he passed on to the grandchildren who loved him. Forrest spent his final ten months in Chelsea, Michigan near his daughter where family could be with him and love him every day.
Surviving is his daughter Lexa (John) O’Brien of Chelsea, MI, Daughter-in-law Linda Swatman of Owosso, MI., three grandchildren, Chad (Shannon) Swatman of Corunna MI, Bekah (Jason) Lantis of Saline MI, Matthew (Jenny) Knight of Canonsburg PA., three step grandchildren Erin, Shannon and Kelly O’Brien and 9 great grandchildren, Devin Swatman-Stewart, Rachel and Tyler Swatman, Kalle and Jack Kargel, Trevor Lantis, Joshua, Drew, and Benjamin Knight. Also surviving are Brothers-in-law Roger (Jean) Heathman of Dansville, MI, Orval Chambers of Wixom, MI, and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his wife Doris and son Brian in June of 2019. Also by his parents, 3 brothers, Paul, Russell, and Richard, 5 sisters, Thelma Swatman, Eileen McGee, Effie McGee, Gladys Chambers, and Joan Zimmerman; his grandson, Devin Swatman, and grandson-in-law Andrew Kargel.
Graveside services will be held at Mt. Rest Cemetery on Monday, July 20, 2020 at 2:30 P.M.
In lieu of flowers, simply honor Forrest’s memory by supporting a Veteran with a random act of kindness.
Arrangements are entrusted to Keck-Coleman Funeral Home.
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