To the editor:
Cynthiana and Harrison County lost its biggest booster and promoter with the death of John Swinford on Feb. 3. Before John’s health failed his knowledge of most of the citizenry of Cynthiana and Harrison County was second to none. John was extremely proud of Harrison County and all of its good citizens. He was also proud to be a lawyer and was an extremely honorable member of that profession. I am not nearly a good enough wordsmith to write this accolade, but I must try.
As many of you know John loved his family, politics (especially the Democratic Party), Cynthiana and Harrison County, football, and practicing law. John conducted himself and his life as a true Christian should and was a shining example to many. He was a true gentleman who treated everyone with the greatest respect. He represented the wealthiest and most powerful people and the poorest and most disabled with equal vigor. All of these folks called him their lawyer and best friend. His legal knowledge and expertise were legendary.
John knew the genealogy of almost every family in Harrison County as well as many families in the surrounding area. In most cases, John not only knew your mother and father, he knew your parents and grandparents as well; he knew what farm or house they owned and probably the names of the previous owners. If a lawyer or paralegal got stuck researching a title, they only had to ask John and he would immediately help. When the flood of 1997 occurred, and the Harrison County Clerk’s Office lost their records folks learned that the law firm of Swinford & Sims had many of those records intact. After all, that firm had been in business at the same location for over 100 years.
John always came to work with a smile on his face, a twinkle in his eye, and seemed so happy to be there. It was a joke in the office that if you planned to eat lunch with John, he would always be 30 minutes late getting there. Although the restaurant was less than a block away, if any of the office staff left the office with him, he would have to shake every hand and converse with every person he met who had a legal problem, thus he was always tardy. He never seemed to lose his cool or his genuine concern for others and he was always loyal to his friends and supporters.
I always wondered how parents could raise such a wonderful man and only son and after reading the book about his father and mother, Federal Judge Swinford and Benton Peterson Swinford, titled “Call Me Mac” I partly understood. John and Mary have raised their boys Jim and Bill in the same way and they are equally unselfish and as concerned for others as their parents.
Although I left Swinford & Sims over 14 years ago, and established my own law office, John never held any animosity toward me and was always gracious if had a legal question or concern and at times, even sent me clients. As a lady said to me when we were standing in line at John’s wake, “When I first met John some 30 years ago I wondered if he was genuine, and I thought to myself, he only wants my vote. However, after I knew him better I realized his friendship was real and he was a true friend.”
May God Bless the Swinford Family.
Dorothy Jo Mastin
Attorney at Law