Pastors' Memoirs

Harvey Kennerly Swann, 1902-1986

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My father was born in Caroline County, Virginia, one of eight children given to Fannie Kennerly and Willie Harvey Swann. His early participation in helping to support the family and lack of available high schools in rural Virginia prevented his completion of high school as a teenager.

However, his interest in an education and his desire to preach were never forgotten. In his early 20s, he borrowed $10 from a friend and left his home (then Richmond) to ride the train to Ferrum College.

As did most young people attending Ferrum, he payed his way by working for the school. He completed high school and junior college by working at the dairy barn and teaching history to the high school classes during his senior year.

Ferrum meant a great deal to Daddy because it offered an opportunity to so many that had nowhere else to turn. He played baseball and never got tired of playing, coaching, or in later years watching the sport.

At Ferrum, he began a lifetime of taking a stand on issues that seemed worthwhile whether in the classroom, community, or conference floor. His last year at Ferrum he represented the school in the statewide debating contest and lost only in the finals to a University of Virginia senior.

At Ferrum, Daddy found the most important thing in his life, a pretty brunette from Chatham, Virginia. Martha Lois Harris won his heart and they were married May 27, 1928, after graduation, by the Rev. I.L. Llewellyn who was the school chaplain. The Lllewellyns were close family friends until their death.

Harvey and Lois (who became Brownie to everyone) were blessed with three children: Harris in 1929, Lois Llewellyn in 1933, and William Cosby in 1937.

Daddy became pastor of Kenwood Church near Ashland in 1928 and attended Union Theological Seminary while working the night shift at the Liggett and Myers Tobacco Company. His desire and determination to further his education never ceased. For years he spent evenings studying in the office often to the wee hours of the morning. He took his vacations and attended theological schools until he earned his Doctorate of Theology.

He left Kenwood and served pastorates at Huddleston, Painter, Prince George, Fieldale, Marquis Memorial, Buena Vista, Belmont in Roanoke, Trinity in Peninsula, Ferebee-Halstead, and Park View in Lynchburg where he retired in 1967 because of poor health.

Daddy was first a preacher but loved the ministering almost as much as preaching. No one called for help and got turned aside and his summers were always busy because he was in demand to hold old-fashioned revivals for ministers throughout the conference. The shortage of teachers in World War II gave him an opportunity to participate in two areas he loved -- teaching and working with young people. He never tired of young people whether teaching, counseling or coaching the girl's softball team.

Daddy's last years were spent in ill health but still keen of mind. He passed away in his sleep October 7, 1986. He was laid to rest in the cemetery at Forest Grove Church in a service conducted by the Rev. Grant Bomberger and Daddy's district superinten- dent, Bernard Via. He is survived by his beloved Brownie, his three children, and seven grandchildren.  
--Harris Kennerly Swann

 

 

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