Lucy M. McSwain, 88, of West Chester passed away peacefully on Sunday, August 13, at her home at The Hickman in West Chester. She was the mother of Wendy McSwain and Bill McSwain, both of West Chester, and the grandmother of Connor, Brady, Nancy and Billy McSwain, the children of her son and daughter-in-law, Stephanie McSwain.
Originally from Pulaski, Virginia, a small town in the state’s western mountains, Lucy was raised on a family farm and, while a young girl, lived in a farmhouse without indoor plumbing. Her parents, William and Eloise Miller, taught her the virtues of hard work and devotion to family and community. She grew up with three older siblings: brothers, Davis and John, and sister, Bonnie. She was very close with all of her siblings, but Bonnie was her lifelong best friend. Both she and Bonnie graduated from Radford University in Virginia, where Lucy served as senior class president. After graduation, Bonnie moved to Maryland and had a career as a teacher in the Prince George’s County public schools. Davis attended Virginia Tech, flew helicopter missions in the Korean War and became a veterinarian, eventually serving as the State Veterinarian of Virginia; John served in the Navy, also attended Virginia Tech and, like his brother, was a veterinarian in Virginia.
Lucy majored in home economics at Radford and worked as a dietician in Virginia before meeting her husband, Holland McSwain, a Presbyterian minister at the time who was originally from North Carolina. The young southern couple came north to Philadelphia in the mid-1960s so that Holland could attend the School of Social Work at the University of Pennsylvania. Lucy spent the rest of her life in the Philadelphia area, but never lost her trademark southern accent and southern manners.
Lucy’s children, Wendy and Bill, were born in Philadelphia in 1966 and 1969, respectively. Soon after Bill’s birth, Lucy and her family moved to West Chester and built their life there. Lucy loved to cook (specializing in the southern dishes of her childhood), enjoyed gardening and loved to socialize with her many friends in her free time. She served as a deacon and elder at the Westminster Presbyterian Church and frequently volunteered in the community, including for Meals on Wheels and the West Chester Food Pantry. Most of all, she was a devoted wife and mother who was very proud of her children and dedicated her life to her family. Wendy and Bill both graduated from West Chester Henderson High School. Wendy attended Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA and then spent many years in New York City as a casting director for MTV. A decade ago, she returned to West Chester and, a life-long learner, currently works at the West Chester Public Library. Bill attended Yale and the Harvard Law School, served as an infantry officer in the Marines and served as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from 2018 to 2021; he is currently a partner at the Duane Morris law firm.
Lucy took great joy in her grandchildren, showering them with love (and often food!). She was a patient and fun-filled grandmother who loved to give her grandchildren “good sugar” (as she called it) when planting a kiss. She was very proud of her grandchildren’s accomplishments and strong moral character, bequeathing to them what she had learned as a child. Connor and Brady are graduates of the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University, respectively; Nancy will be a junior at the University of Pennsylvania this fall; and Billy will be a senior at the Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square.
Burial will be private. A memorial service and celebration of Lucy’s life will be held Nov. 20 at 11:00 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 10 W. Pleasant Grove Rd, West Chester. Lucy was predeceased by her beloved sister and brothers.
Donations in her name can made be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, Delaware Valley chapter, www.alz.org/delval.