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James "Jim" R. Swaner

Iowa City

James "Jim" R. Swaner, 96, passed away peacefully at Oaknoll Retirement Community on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2019.
His body was donated to the UI Anatomy Department. A Celebration of Life will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Jan. 13, 2020, at the Oaknoll Retirement Community in the Heiden Community Room on fifth floor.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the Oaknoll Foundation, Iowa City Hospice or to a charity of your choice.
Born March 13, 1923, Jim Swaner was a lifelong resident of Iowa City, the son of John J. and Ruth Ray Swaner. He was a member of the first graduating class from New City High School in 1940. He served three years in the U.S. Air Force and returned to Iowa City after World War II. He then graduated from the University of Iowa College of Engineering in 1947, where he was a member of the Pi Tau Sigma honorary mechanical engineering fraternity, and also Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity.
He married Ruth Ann Strub in Iowa City on Nov. 3, 1943, and is survived by their four children, John J. Swaner (Gregory Whiting) of Portland, Ore., James C. (Dr. Ann) Swaner of Miami Shores, Fla., Janey (Dan) Wall of Cedar Rapids and Susan (Dee) Chiles of Iowa City; and close friend and business associate Kent Swaim of Iowa City. He was the proud grandfather of seven grandchildren, Thomas Swaner of Seattle, Mark Swaner of Los Angeles, Tyler (Kristine) Brown of Maui, Hawaii, Megan (Kai) McPhee of Maui, Hawaii, Ryan (Kaye) Chiles of Rogers, Ark., Brett Chiles (Olivia Day) of Davenport and Chad (Courtney) Chiles of Iowa City; five great-grandsons; and five great-granddaughters.
He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Ruth; two sisters, Ruth E. Swaner and Marilyn Kessberger; and partner and soulmate, Jan Wilcox.
Jim started working on the family dairy farm just north of Iowa City when he was 5. After graduation from the University of Iowa with a degree in engineering, he joined his parents full time with the Swaner Farms Dairy on North Dodge Street, which the name was later changed to Home Town Dairies. Jim and Home Town were recognized in the dairy industry for implementing many significant innovations, including bulk handling of milk from the farm to the milk plant, efficiencies in warehouse and delivery systems to supermarkets, and early use of computers for inventory control and analysis of milk sales for Home Town's customers. He served in many leadership positions in various organizations in the dairy industry, including serving as president and a member of the Iowa Milk Dealers Association. He also was a member of the board of directors of the Milk Industry Foundation from 1962 to 1968.
He was a charter member of the Mercy Hospital Lay Advisory Board, serving 10 years on the board, and served as its first president from 1964 to 1968. He was a member of Rotary International for more than 70 years and a lifelong Hawkeyes fan, attending his first Iowa football game in 1937. For many years, he attended all of the Iowa football, basketball and wrestling home events. He was an active supporter of Oaknoll and appreciated all of the genuine care given by numerous employees.
Though Jim worked very hard in the dairy industry, he also was one that liked to "have fun" and always wished everyone to "have a good life." He was an active pilot and sailor. He loved flying, sailing in the Caribbean islands and around Iowa lakes, traveling, spending time at the family farm and good music with lots of dancing. Most of all, he loved his family generously and supported all of them often and in any way he could.
The family wishes to extend appreciation and thanks to all of the Oaknoll staff and to Iowa City Hospice.
Messages to the family may be sent to Oaknoll Retirement Community, 1 Oaknoll Court, Iowa City, IA 52246.
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