Memphis Funeral Home


Tom W. Swayzee, Sr.

November 25, 1920August 18, 2016

T.W. (Tom) Swayzee Sr. peacefully went to be with his Lord on August 18.

Born in 1920 in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He served in the Army Air Corps bands in World War II. His first public school teaching was in Little Rock and Crossett, Arkansas. He played bass clarinet in the Little Rock Symphony. In 1954 he became the band director at Mumford, TN. In 1959 he was Memphis Overton’s first band director. He moved to Messick High School in Memphis the following year. At Messick, Mr. Swayzee developed an effective and accomplished band program including many All-State and West Tennessee players. Many of his students became professional musicians and teachers.

In 1970, Mr. Swayzee was elected to the American School Band Directors Association. This association is dedicated to the development and improvement of school bands. He later served as State membership chairman for the group.

In 1973 Mr. Swayzee transferred to Wooddale where he taught for 7 years before retirement. After retirement, Mr. Swayzee taught 22 years privately for Harding Academy.

Marches for concert for concert programs were to be treated as miniature classics and the bands of T.W. Swayzee were expected to respect this viewpoint. The writing of Frank Simon, Sousa’s finest first cornet player were studied for how Sousa performed his marches.

The former students of the Messick band continue to meet annually in appreciation for their band experiences under T.W. Swayzee

In 2011 Mr. Swayzee was one of three to be honored by the West Tennessee School Band Orchestra Association Hall of Fame for his Outstanding Achievement and Continuous Service to Students and Directors of West Tennessee.

As a composer and founder of Franton Music and member of ASCAP, Mr. Swayzee had many published originals including America Bless God.

A devout Christian, Mr. Swayzee lived to honor his Lord. He was a deacon at Colonial Baptist Church and was founder and director of the Christian Winds Community Band. He sang in the choir at Colonial Baptist and served as interim choir director. He also led several revival choirs.

After moving to Fort Lauderdale, Mr. Swayzee attended New Hope Community Church. He played clarinet in the American Legion Concert band and enjoyed sports, in particular the Florida Marlins and Miami Heat.

Mr. Swayzee is predeceased by his wife Frances and survived by son Tom Swayzee and daughter in law Amy Tucker Swayzee.

The family will receive friends, Tuesday evening, August 23 from five o'clock until eight o'clock in the Life Remembrance of Memphis Funeral Home, 5599 Poplar Avenue. Funeral services will be conducted at twelve noon on Wednesday, August 24, 2016 in the Memphis Funeral Home Chapel. Interment will follow at West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.


  • Visitation

    Tuesday, August 23, 2016

  • Funeral Service

    Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Tom W. Swayzee, Sr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Steve Kellett

September 16, 2017

I started my music education with Mr Swayzee during grade school at Messick at a summer session and continued through high school. He passed his passion for music on to me. I looked forward to our band reunions. He will be missed.

Scott Heatherly

August 26, 2016

He was my private clarinet teacher 65-68. He was an outstanding and passionate teacher. I learned much more than music from him. He and Alan Goldsmith made the difference in my life. Great teachers from the school system. RIP Mr Swayzee.
Scott Heatherly

Bert Lord

August 26, 2016

Mr. Swayzee's dedication can never be overstated. He was more dedicated, to the things he chose to be in his life, than anyone I have ever met. God, first and foremost. His wife and Son, his music, his church, and his students. Others have stated what he meant to them and others. I will simply say, "He was a true leader and inspiration to many. God bless you, Mr. Swayzee, as he blessed us with your presence in our life."

Betty Johnson Mallott

August 25, 2016

Mr. Swayzee was a truly great man who dedicated his life to his God, his family, and his students. He left a lasting impression on all who knew him, especially his band students. We can only hope to pass on his excellent values and character. We love you Mr. Swayzee and we thank you for your dedication.

Don Abel

August 25, 2016

Mr. Swayzee made a difference in my life by developing my love of music and my understanding of it. My prayers and condolences to his family. He touched many.

Steve Kellett

August 25, 2016

I started with his summer program. I started playing trumpet. We had to many trumpet players. He suggested the Baritone went on to play it. He help develop my love of music. Thank you for the time you spent with me. Hope you have a great band in heaven.

Marian Overton Beck

August 24, 2016

Mr. Swayzee shared his passion of music to every student. I was by no means the best, but Mr. Swayzee ' s enthusiasm was so contagious, you were swept up in the music. I can almost here the Sousa marches being played now.

Becky Robinson Burgess

August 23, 2016

Mr. Swayzee was a wonderful music teacher and band director. He was a tough and dedicated man who inspired me so much. He taught me from 5th grade to my Sr. Year when I moved to St. Louis he made sure that I was prepared to play in my new high school. He was an amazing man who made us all feel special and talented. My whole life I've spoken highly of him and remember him fondly. I have so many great memories of marching in football games, parades, and going on band trips and band camps with him. He drove us hard, taught us well and because of that we loved and respected him above all other teachers. I hope to play in his heavenly band again one day.

George Pokorski

August 23, 2016

A role model for his students, a role model for music educators like myself to look up to and emulate. A true loss for the world of band directing, and a true addition to the Kingdom of Heaven, especially on the music side. His students loved him, those of us who were in the same profession tried to follow his example. As stated in the obituary, many of his former students went on to play professionally or become directors themselves. As director of the East Jr High band in West Memphis in the mid 80's, Mr Swayzee took time out of his schedule to come to our school and work the band before attending concert festival. Watching him work was sheer joy. His energy was congtagious. He loved talking shop with any director that had the privilege of sharing a conversation. Yes, we were all band geeks, and I think he would tell you that. We were able to learn so much from just hearing what he had to share. He was as fine a Christian man as there was. He was the ultimate caregiver to his wife when she fell ill the last 10 years of her life. I will never forget the by chance 20-30 minute conversation Tom and I had at the Mall of Memphis as he needed some space that day. He thanked me for spending MY time with him. He had it all backwards. I was the winner. I know I wrote a lot, I could have written a lot more. Rest in Peace, Mr Swayzee. You were one of a kind.

Rosemary Holliday

August 23, 2016

Amy and Tom - our love to both of you in your loss. Mr. Swayzee had a lovely life with you two.