Susannah M. Swihart, 97

Susannah Swihart

Susannah Swihart

FALMOUTH — Susannah Mirick Swihart, 97, of Falmouth, died on Sunday, March 8, 2015, at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. She was born on Dec. 15, 1917, in Worcester, Mass., to Ruth Goodnow Mirick and George Hammond Mirick. She lived a full and remarkable life, setting an example for all the women and men in her family for her courage, determination and professional success.

After a happy childhood in Worcester and at her favorite place, the family's farm in nearby Princeton, Mass., she graduated from Mount Holyoke College with high honors in 1939, and went to Washington to begin her career of public service. She worked in the Roosevelt administration's management intern program, worked in the first civil planning office in the federal government, later worked on a project that planned the first interstate highway into Alaska, and as WWII unfolded, went to London on a troop ship, where she staffed the U.S. Mission to the Governments in Exile (the Free French, Free Poles, etc.). She stayed through the bombings, later telling that as she walked to work each morning across London she would pass newly-bombed out buildings every day. At the end of the war, she became one of the very few female U.S. diplomats or foreign service officers. Her first postwar post was Prague, which she entered with a group of U.S. troops. She remembered that it was still unstable, with snipers about, and all too many Russian troops knocking on her door at night. She was later posted to Belgrade, Rome, and Brussels, and over the course of this period and the rest of her travels learned eight languages and always embraced the land and the culture she lived in.

In 1953, in Brussels, she met another diplomat, James Swihart, and married him that winter at her loved family farm in Princeton, Mass. He had three children, Melinda, Mignon, and James, who soon became hers as well. They moved in 1954 to London, where they had two more children of their own, Susannah and George. More moves followed for the family, with several stints in Washington, D.C., and four years in Tehran, Iran. She took to each new adventure as an opportunity, always looking forward.

In 1968, the family retired to Susannah's second beloved home, her old farmhouse on Pleasant Lake in Casco Village. There, as always, she put her full energies into her immediate world — her family, her garden, her birds, her singing, her closest friends, and the town of Casco. She served on the town's planning board for many years and led its Comprehensive Planning effort through three cycles. She also put over 40 years in as a lead volunteer and trustee of the Casco Public Library, orchestrating its main fundraiser, the book sale, for many years. And she sang in the Raymond Village Church choir and the Portland Community Chorus for decades, serving as the PCC's librarian for a number of years.

Her husband, Jim, died in 1985; and her younger siblings Richard Mirick, Albert Mirick, and Sally Mirick MacAuslan all predeceased her. She leaves her son George and his wife De-an of Germantown, Tenn.; her daughter Susannah and her husband Karl Turner of Cumberland; her son Jim and his wife Kim of Saylorsburg, Pa.; her daughter Mignon Gregg of Three Rivers, Calif.; and her daughter Melinda of Baltimore, Md. She also leaves her grandchildren, Jennifer Swihart Voegele and her husband Tom of St. Paul, Minn., Christopher Swihart and his wife Laura of Brooklyn, N.Y., Anne Swihart of Pasadena, Calif., and Abigail Armstrong of Cumberland; four great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

Her family would like to thank the caring staff at Foreside Harbor and at the Gosnell House for all their nurturing.

There will be a private celebration in spring or summer. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to the Casco Public Library, 5 Leach Hill Road, Casco, ME 04015.

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