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Local Newsman celebrates 83rd Birthday

Pictured from left to right: Nephew Greg Swift and wife Sheila, sister-in-law Carol Shores, Carolyn Wolfe, the birthday boy Jack Swift, niece Debbie Flanders and husband John, cousin Charlene Long and husband Tony. Submitted photo.

By Tamas Mondovics

A former full-time employee of The Tomahawk Newspaper and friend Jack Swift recently celebrated his 83rd Birthday joined by friends and relatives. The special event, which featured a cake made by Chris Roberts and highlighted Jack’s life and newspaper career, was held at Farmer’s Barbeque and Grill.

Jack retired after 30 years working in the newsroom in 2003. He grew up in Johnson County. His parents, Carrie Emoline Harper and Isaac Alan Swift were also born in Mountain City. Jack’s brother, Ray, passed away in 1990.
An earlier article written by former Tomahawk employee Paula Walter reflects on Jack’s success as a sports reporter who later moved on writing his weekly column This ‘n’ That, for everyone’s enjoyment.

“I did all aspects of circulation,” Jack said.

Jack was a true newsman and worked with circulation and selling advertising, making ads, and helping layout the paper.

“I’d like to express my gratitude to the McClouds for giving me the opportunity to work at The Tomahawk,” he said. “All this is memory, “he said. “Sometimes the memory is good; sometimes it’s not so good.”

It wasn’t long after his retirement that Jack, also a Johnson County’s historian, started his column This ‘n’ That, for the paper. “I started writing the column the last day of 2003,” he said.

Although Jack enjoyed reporting on sports, his This ‘n’ That column continues to be his favorite writing for the paper. Below is just one of such pieces that many have enjoyed and no doubt will enjoy reading again.
Thanks for all your hard work, Jack, and for being a true newsman.

An Encore Edition
This ‘n’ That: By Jack Swift

My Time as Sports Editor at The Tomahawk

Former Tomahawk reporter and Johnson County historian Jack Swift recently celebrated his 83rd Birthday. File photo.

Football has already begun. It seems to have just slipped up on me. After all, baseball is still in full swing. So now, there are two major sports to be entertained by and others as well. As baseball winds up to the ultimate destiny of the World Series, football will be on its way to the Super Bowl in professional football and conference championships in college and high school play.

As a youngster, I followed the exploits of The Tennessee Volunteers on our Philco table model radio. Television would be far in the future. Before I owned a football, the neighborhood kids and I played with a cylinder-shaped oatmeal can. I don’t remember when I got my first real football, but I know I was a happy kid. The era of Volunteer Football I enjoyed most was when such stars as Hank Lauricella, Johnny Majors, George Cafego, and others were going strong at UT.

After serving in the army, I worked at a number of jobs. But, in 1973, I found myself working at The Tomahawk Newspaper, a weekly paper with a long and interesting history. The paper was owned and operated by Derl McCloud and his late wife, Gladys. Over the years, the paper was sold a couple of times. I covered sports as well as a few other tasks around the newspaper. Before long, I was named Sports Editor and began a 30-year career in that field at The Tomahawk.

I guess the fans got used to seeing me run up and down the sidelines taking notes and snapping pictures of the action in football. I also covered basketball, golf, tennis, and baseball. Those were the days of film cameras. I used a Minolta film camera for several years, but while I was a bit dubious about digital cameras, I was sold on them after I started using one.

My time at The Tomahawk was a valuable experience for me. I worked overtime with some of the nicest people you could find anywhere. I am extremely grateful to those who I have worked for over the years. I have written more than 700 columns since I started writing them in 2003. I hope to continue awhile longer as my health permits.