Joanna Ruth Swearingen passed away on April 28, 2021 at UCHealth Memorial Hospital North in Colorado Springs at the age of 101.
Joanna was born on October 31, 1919 in Sigourney, Iowa to Donald and Winnifred (Stalker) Hamilton. She lived most of her childhood in Richland, Iowa before she moved with her family to Hedrick.
There, she met Vernon Swearingen, and on June 18th, 1939, they married. Together, they began farming in 1941. Joanna taught Sunday school in the Presbyterian church for fifteen years, served as Sunday school superintendent, and directed the church choir. She also served as a church elder, as well as a deacon. She sang her first solo at the insistence of the church organist, and then continued to sing solos at church, community programs, and at the wedding of her eldest grandson.
Following their retirement from farming, Joanna and Vernon moved to the Missouri Ozarks, building their log home on Lake Taneycomo, twelve miles from Branson. She enjoyed living in the wooded area near a great variety of birds. They travelled extensively, visiting 22 countries. Their travel adventures ceased after Vernon suffered a stroke, and they moved to St. Augustine, Florida to be close to their daughter. Joanna cared for him, and when he fell and broke a hip, she reluctantly moved him to a nursing home before his eventual death in 1995. For the next five years, Joanna volunteered thirty hours each week at that nursing home.
In 2000, Joanna accompanied her daughter in her move to Colorado Springs to be close to grandchildren. There, Joanna began a social and active life at Liberty Heights Senior Living. She enjoyed its beautiful views of Pikes Peak and the Front Range of the Rockies, the organized joy rides to area attractions, and friendships with fellow residents and her many caretakers. As Joanna’s dementia continued to advance, she was able to receive proper care and supervision, share her singing talent whenever asked, and smile and radiate her unfailing spirit with everyone around her.
Joanna’s daughter, Margie Thurman, preceded her in death in 2006, but Margie’s sons, Lon and Wes, who live nearby, ensured Joanna’s care until her death. Joanna is also survived by her son, Lynn, and his wife, Martha, of Richland, Iowa, and grandsons Brent and Todd, as well as her great-grandchildren. Joanna’s parents and brother preceded her in death. Her brother, John Wesley Hamilton, perished in World War II on the submarine USS Amberjack in 1943 and was awarded the Purple Heart. Despite these personal losses and the challenges of living with advanced dementia to 101 years of age, Joanna smiled and laughed, delighted in her daily chocolate ice cream, and showed her appreciation of the people surrounding her each day.
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