Family: Wife, Shirley Spears Swanson, son, Lloyd Sanders Swanson.
Occupation: Retired from a career in heavy construction. “I’ve built dams all over the United States -- two in Georgia, in South Dakota, Oklahoma, West Virginia. I built bridges on Interstates 40, 85, 75 and 95 and a new recruiting barracks at Fort Benning.”
Durward Swanson is well-known throughout the area as a past national president of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. He said that on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the Army Air Corpsman had just lain down in his bunk after being on security all night. “I had just come out of the mess hall and had been out of there for 10 minutes. Bombs hit directly on it and killed 143 men while they were eating breakfast,” he said.
Here is Durward B. Swanson:
What was your first paying job?
“Picking cotton for 40 cents per hundred pounds. Your fingers would get little pricks on them. You were doing good if you picked 200 pounds a day, 80 cents worth.”
If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?
“Travel around the world. I’ve seen all of the South Pacific, and I’d love to see parts of Europe, Ireland and Scotland. That’s where my ancestors come from.”
What’s your favorite television or movie quote?
“From ‘Gone With the Wind,’ when Clark Gable as Rhett Butler said, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.’ It premiered in Atlanta. Vivian Leigh was there, and I went to the premiere.”
What are you guilty of?
“Not doing enough for my Lord. It’s very important to me. He brought me through two battles, and I have seen enough to know He’s the one who saved my life. In 1975, I turned my life completely over to him and have been active in church the last 30 years.”
What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?
“Go up in a hot air balloon. I watched the guy who went around the world in one, and there’s something about sailing around looking over the entire United States.”
Do you think there is life on other planets?
“Yes, we have proof of it. They’ve found water on Mars. There should be life if there’s water.”
What is your favorite material possession?
“My Shrine ring that was given to me by my only son.”
What are you reading currently?
“ ‘Why He Chose the Nails,’ by Max Lacado.
Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?
“Harry Truman. He saved about 250,000 lives. We were getting ready to invade Japan when he ordered the atomic bomb to be dropped.”
What was your most embarrassing moment?
“Singing a song with my church from Georgia and forgetting the words. I was in Roanoke with the Billy Graham Crusade and this little girl from England gave me a poem called ‘Access to Heaven.’ I thought I had memorized it but got half way through and forgot some of the words.”
What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
“Early bird because I always like to get where I am going early. My baby boy worked with me in construction when we were building the recruiting barracks. I liked to get there early to see if I wanted to change anything.”
When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“An FBI agent. My uncle was a county, state and federal agent, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps. I worked in security while in the Air Force.”
What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
“Always be honest and caring.”
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
“Slow down some. I go to schools and speak and try to stay active. My daddy was active until he fell and broke his hip. He was 97 when he died. I’m going to stay as long as the Lord has work for me.”
What is your passion?
“To see this world be a happy, peaceful place. Absolutely, I’d love to see it. To do that, America has to get back on track with God. They’re away from him.”
With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
“Gen. George S. Patton Jr. I took my recruiting training in 1939 when he was a full-bird colonel at Fort Benning. He would get out there with us. My two first cousins who served under him loved him. He’s always been someone I admired.”
What do you hate?
“Liars and thieves. My dad told me if you have to tell one lie you have to tell five and that’s the truth. If you can’t tell the truth keep your mouth shut.”
What is your all-time favorite movie?
‘”Gone with the Wind.’ It was in the South, and It was about Southern things.”
What is the best book you’ve ever read?
“‘The Bible.’ One verse in Galations 2:20 the apostle Paul said, “I’m crucified with Christ, never the less it is not I who live but Christ who lives through me.”
Would you travel in space?
“Yes, in a heart beat, you better believe it. I’ve love to, even at my age.”
What character in a book or movie would you most like to be?
“John Wayne. I lost my school sweetheart and first wife in 2001 and he was her favorite actor. When he came out with ‘True Grit,’ that hit me right there. He was an All-American man. I met John Wayne. I was in the hospital in San Francisco and got moved to Modesto, Calif. A friend of mine was Robert Taylor’s nephew, and Robert Taylor and John Wayne came through the hospital. I was 21.”
What was your first car?
“It was a 1928 Ford Roadster with a rumble seat. My brother and I bought it. We gave $350. You could get gas for 12 cents a gallon.”
What’s your favorite all time song?
“ ‘Whispering Hope.’ That was my mother’s favorite song, and it was sung at my wife’s funeral and my mother’s funeral.”
Is the glass half-full or half-empty?
“It’s half full and filling fast. I don’t know how many years I’ve got. Every day of life fills me a little higher.”