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Community Champion: Gary Swindell Sr.

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Updated: Dec. 30, 2020 at 5:21 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Savannah lost a hero over the weekend. A mentor who used his music to reach people and improve their lives.

Gary Swindell Sr.’s children spoke about the contributions that made their father a WTOC Community Champion.

“My father was an ordained minister. And if you ever look up that word, it just means servant. And all he ever did was serve his community.”

How Gary Swindell Sr. chose to do that was by helping the people of his community - as a mentor and an advisor - a friend to those who needed one most.

“His purpose in life as to show people love, to show people Christ.”

“I talked to so many people who said he was a second father to me, or he was a father.”

“He was just that strong make presence in their lives and it just made people feel comforted and special. So many people just felt so special from my dad.”

As the minister of music at his Savannah church for 35 years and a local public school teacher for 30 years, Swindell was in position to affect lives. But helping people was more his persona than his job.

“That’s just what he found joy in doing. Nobody had to ask him to do these things.”

“He wanted to cultivate people’s artistic abilities and their creative thought process. And he has always just wanted to show people God and love through the arts.”

Swindell died last weekend from COVID-19 and without being able to say goodbye to so many people he impacted through the years and was still impacting in what was going to be his final year of teaching.

But like his music, this WTOC Community Champion’s memory will live on in the town he always called home.

“He is going to be remembered as a legend. He is going to be remembered as someone who was able to express love in so many different facets. And for generations. not just in our family, people all over Savannah are going to talk about him, people are going to know who he was and they’re going to smile.”

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