Cover photo for Ronald Swigger's Obituary
1941 Ronald Swigger 2024

Ronald Swigger

August 28, 1941 — June 16, 2024

Ron Swigger passed away peacefully in Rio Rancho, NM on Sunday, June 16, 2024, after a long struggle with Parkinson's Disease.

Ronald Thomas Swigger was born in Oklahoma City in 1941 to Thelma Loneta Swigger and Paul Clark Swigger. Ron was the oldest of four boys (including brothers, Keith, Mike, and Gerald), and the Swigger family moved from Oklahoma to Kansas to New Mexico, following their father's career working as a mechanic and salesman with International Harvester.

As a boy, Ron studied the violin and was an avid chess player. He attended Highland High School in Albuquerque, where he forged lifelong friendships, and graduated in 1959. He attended the University of New Mexico and graduated Cum Laude with a degree in English Literature in 1963. He and Nancy Louise Duncan were married in August 1963.

Ron and Nancy pursued their further higher education dreams at Indiana University, where Ron earned a PhD in Comparative Literature, focusing his dissertation on the work of poets Wallace Stevens and Rainer Maria Rilke. Ron and Nancy spent several years away from New Mexico, while Ron taught at Brooklyn College and then the University of Maryland. Daughter Jocelyn Anne Swigger was born in 1971, and the family spent time in Berlin, Germany, and Madrid, Spain, while Ron taught English in the United States Air Force, and lived for a short time in Iowa City, IA. The Swigger family returned to Albuquerque in the mid-1970s, and Ron taught courses in the English Department at UNM. Daughter Elizabeth "Bettina" was a surprise addition to the family in 1980. Ron was a fully involved, active dad, changing diapers, cooking meals, and driving his daughters to music lessons.

Ron provided professional translation services and worked in a software business and a camera store before he began his 25-year tenure at CNM Community College (then TVI) in 1988. At CNM, he taught English and Technical Writing, and he particularly enjoyed teaching World Humanities courses. He taught thousands of students and graded innumerable papers.

Ron was a consummate intellectual, with a deep love of learning for its own sake. He organized his many bookshelves by topic, including mathematics, philosophy, world religions, history, computers, science, literary criticism, art, music, and literature by authors in English, Spanish, French, German, Latin, and Greek. He was a passionate scholar of the 20th century French writer Raymond Queneau. His breadth of knowledge was encyclopedic: before there was the internet, you could ask Ron and he probably knew the answer. He had a sardonic wit and a deadpan delivery.

He had a deep love for classical music and opera. He enjoyed playing and practicing violin for most of his life, and in the late 1980s he got great joy from singing in the choruses of Albuquerque Academy parent productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. But he was, most of all, an appreciative listener. The first thing he did in the morning was turn on the stereo, and the last thing he did at night was turn it off. He was unstumpable when it came to naming well-known composers from just a few bars of music.

Even in his final years of illness, he found enjoyment in complex topics and in simple pleasures: cherry pies, blossoms on a tree, clear days when he could see the volcanoes in the West and the Sandias to the East. He liked puzzles, puttering, and pickle relish. He loved talking about new ideas with old friends and family. He will be missed.

He is survived by daughters, Jocelyn Anne Swigger of Gettysburg, PA, and Bettina Loneta Swigger of Boulder, CO; brothers, Boyd Keith Swigger of Denton, TX and Gerald Ray Swigger of Thousand Oaks, CA; sister-in-law, Kellie Harshbarger Swigger of Thousand Oaks, CA; and grandson, Benjamin Jack Swigger Kovaleski of Gettysburg, PA.

A celebration of life will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to listener-supported KHFM Classical Public Radio.

To send flowers to the family in memory of Ronald Swigger, please visit our flower store.


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