Robert Lee Swindell Sr.
May 15, 1916 – March 11, 2019
On Monday, March 11, 2019, another chapter in a century-old Jacksonville story came to an end when Robert Lee Swindell, Sr. passed away at 102 years of age. Born on May 15, 1916, to Robert David and Eva Annise Swindell of Lake City, Florida. Robert spent most of his long and productive life in Jacksonville, Florida, leaving a positive mark on many areas of the City. Among the projects that were improved by Robert’s participation were setting the foundation for the Main Street Bridge, building the Sea Wall at Atlantic Beach, and the Piers at N.A.S. Jacksonville. During WWII, Robert, an expert crane operator, trained an all African-American Engineering Company at Camp Blanding. He navigated the St. Johns River from Lake Beresford to Jacksonville as a Tug Boat Captain, as well as delivering ocean-built tugs from Jacksonville to Mobile, Alabama. He laid cable across local creeks and small rivers from Jacksonville to Daytona Beach and concluded his working days as head of Crane Operations at the Jacksonville Shipyards.
Robert was a devoted family man who loved his wife and three children. He enjoyed fishing, cooking, traveling, dancing, and delighted in a good joke. As a young man, he became Senior Steward of the Duval Masonic Lodge #159 and he was an Ambassador for the Shrine for three-quarters of a century. In 2017, his biography, Moonshine Days, The Century-Old Story of Robert Lee Swindell, was commissioned by Carlton Spence and written by Susan D. Brandenburg. Now, having joined his late wife, Eva Gladys Olson Swindell in heaven, Robert leaves behind an unforgettable legacy of a life lived to the fullest.
Robert is survived by his sons, Robert Lee Jr. (Barbara), William Henry, II (Arlene), and daughter, Ellen Darlene Spence (Jeff), his grandchildren, Carrie Atkins, Chris Swindell, Christina Swindell, Elizabeth Calkins, Jenny Sombutmi, and Sarah Spence, and great-grandchildren, Shannon Lane and Robert Michael Atkins, Lauren Nordvig, Zach Lee Swindell, Kayelynn Swindell, Clay and Hayden Calkins, and Oliver Spence.
The funeral service for Robert Lee Swindell, Sr. will be a private occasion for family only. Arrangements are under the care of Hardage-Giddens Greenlawn Funeral Home & Cemetery, 4300 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32207. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Duval Masonic Lodge #159, 2620 Dean Road, Jacksonville, FL 32216, 904-502-0636.
- Duval Masonic Lodge #159