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This obituary is rather lengthy, and if readers live to be a century and 3 years; it will be a blessing for you if your obituary also full of vitality, depth and breadth. Jean miraculously achieved “Centenarian Plus “Status. A Century Plus spans huge historical events. Her advice on achieving longevity was “she was not sure how it happened” but” it doesn’t hurt to have good genes”. Her Aunt Harriet, from California lived to be 99 years old and Great Uncle Albert was 102.
Jean Eleanor Biggard. Swick, 103, of Penn Twp, passed away Monday, February 27, 2023, at her home. She was born December 1, 1919, in Elrama, PA, daughter of the late Howard and Ida Rebecca Strawn Biggard. In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her husband, Kelly Swick following 33 years of marriage; three brothers, Paul (Josephine) Biggard, Leslie (Sue) Biggard, Edgar (Lois) Biggard; and a sister, Ida Francis (James) Sillaman. She is also preceded in death by her husband's parents, Ounfrey "Frank" and Mary Swick; his siblings: Pete (Sue), John (Esther), Mike (Jeanine), Katherine (Daniel), Ann, Sophie (Carmen), Helen and Mary.
Jean started her career in Advertising and Radio on WVBP in Beaver Falls, PA. where she worked with Alan Bowl and Ernie Kline and wrote ads. She obtained a scholarship to University of Pittsburgh during the 1930’s when women were homemakers, less career oriented. She taught at St. Regis in Trafford, PA and then at Level Green Elementary school; total of approximately 20 years. Jean took a keen interest in life, was very progressive for her times: being a minimalist, organic foodie & world minded, before these trends ever emerged. She survived Palate Sarcoma as a child (11-year-old), faced a recurrence in her late 80’s and lived with facial and oral disfigurement and eating challenges. She survived for 11 years after a breast cancer diagnosis and passed away because of a brief, but serious illness.
Jean was very active all her life: gardening, attending CLO and cultural events, in lifelong learning, in her community church, nurturing friendships, providing warm hospitality in her home, joining line - dancing in her 90’s, practicing Tai Chi, discovering and adding Quinoa to her recipes in her mid-90’s, and continuing to drive locally until age 98 approximately. She was a voracious reader with diverse interests, and up until a few months ago, was still cutting out pertinent articles from the newspaper to share with her only daughter, Nancy. Jean also traveled to Canada, Nova Scotia, “out West”, Niagara on the Lake, San Francisco, and on a 2–3-week tour of 7 European Countries. She delved into her family genealogy at age 86 to the extent of writing a detailed family history book, (in collaboration with her eldest niece, Cheryl Mondragon (Texas), spanning 6 generations, complete with contact information, biographies, and photographs. This book was presented to family members at a reunion in 2005.
She faithfully attended her Church, taught Sunday School there, belonged to the Women's craft group and Women's Bible Study. She was always glad to make a casserole to deliver to someone in need. The most recent one delivered at age 102. Jean had a gracious, beautiful spirit and blessed many with her friendship. She lived by the word of God. She did well everything to which she put her hands. From gardening, canning, putting up preserves, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
In her later years she thoroughly enjoyed challenging and winning (fiercely competitive) every scrabble game, while assisting her opponent, breezing through crossword puzzle books (one in every room of the house), visiting with family and friends, and having her personal caregiver, Renee, from Home Instead spend time and assist her Jean loved nature, conservation, word games, and a few regular TV shows: Jeopardy, The Voice and Wheel of Fortune.
Jean was a devoted and exemplary mother to her only child Nancy Jean, whom she delivered at age 40. Her legacy is a consistent living out of her faith, doing both small and great things with great love, using every gift to the glory of God as well as extreme courage, acceptance of a lifelong undeserved disability, overcoming all odds, with remarkable resilience, while not complaining. Her wit, intelligence, subtle grace, humility, wisdom, role modeling and ability to simplify and yet be profound, will be deeply missed. Her spirit was gracious, beautiful, disarming, quiet, and remarkably strong for a frail and petite woman. At 103-year-old, entering her 104th year, she is leaving too soon, yet after being a good and faithful servant, now rests, free and whole in the arms of Jesus Christ her lifelong savior. Nancy, her only Child lives to honor her memory, and blessing with a divine eternal fragrance like that after the rain....
Jean is survived by her daughter, Nancy Jean Swick; (formerly Schendel) numerous nieces, nephews, and many lifelong friends, particularly from Trinity United Methodist Church (Trafford, PA). Special friends include Earl Mitchell (USAA, Ret) and Beverly Piper and her closest family- Biggard and Sillaman sides with numerous nieces and nephews across the USA.
Visitation is from 1 to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 7 p.m. Sunday, March 5, 2023, at Hart Funeral Home, Inc., Murrysville. A Funeral Service will be held 11 a.m. Monday at the funeral home. Interment will follow at Grandview Cemetery, North Versailles.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society (Oral / maxillofacial cancer – palate) or Nature conservancy (Sierra Club) by visiting www.donate.cancer.org. However, the most fitting tribute, consistent with her life, for any friend, family, or neighbor can would be to honor Jean’s memory, by making a commitment to act out of love and in agreement with a selected scripture (fruit of the spirit), every year on the day of her passing, 2/27 or on her birthday, 12/1. This would bring peace, comfort to Nancy, honor her memory and most importantly, bring God the glory from her life, continuing her legacy of an exemplary Christian Life. For online condolences, please visit www.hartfuneralhomeinc.com.