Gregory Brian Swepston
March 26, 1938 ‒ March 18, 2020
Formerly of Columbus, Ohio
One of the most genuine, caring and inspiring men you could ever meet, Gregory Brian Swepston, also endearingly known as “Swep”, “Sweppy,” and “Coach” to name a few, age 81, of Marion, was reunited with his angel in Heaven, Janis, on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at Marion Manor with dear friend, Jesse Hines, by his side following a one year battle with cancer.
On March 26,1938, Greg was born in Columbus, Ohio, the youngest of three sons of the late Roger L. and Elizabeth S. (Steiger) Swepston. During his childhood, his parents instilled in him that “choice, not chance, determines our destiny,” a motto he lived his life by. He graduated from Aquinas College High School in the class of 1956, where he excelled on the baseball diamond as a 3rd baseman. He has even arranged monthly luncheons with his Aquinas classmates at the Varsity Club in Columbus so they all are able to stay in touch. He is famous for bringing cake and balloons every month.
Furthering his education, Greg attended The Ohio State University, earning his Bachelor’s of Science degree in Education in 1961. Throughout school he worked two and three jobs at a time, mainly at Pizza Villa on campus, and played semi-professional baseball every summer. He was proud to have been selected to the National Baseball Congress All-Ohio Baseball team twice, and was selected as the MVP of one of his teams.
After graduating from OSU, Greg found his new home in Marion, Ohio, starting as a physical education instructor, and as an 8th grade science teacher, and 8th grade football, basketball and track coach for the Marion City School Systems. In 1964, he moved up to the high school ranks as a 9th grade health education teacher, and 9th grade football, basketball, and track coach.
Always bettering himself, Greg started graduate school in 1964, at West Virginia University, where after four summers he earned a Master of Arts degree, graduating first in his class and was initiated into the Phi Delta Kappa Professional Fraternity in Education. He was proud to have participated in the Graduate Emeritus 50 Year Reunion celebration in 2019.
From 1967 to 1974, Greg was a driver education, psychology and occupation work experience teacher at Marion Harding High School; as well as their head varsity baseball coach for four years, head basketball coach for two years, and head sophomore and assistant varsity coach for three years. During his years as a head coach, Greg’s teams had impressive winning records, which “he managed without sacrificing the highest ideals of good sportsmanship and fair play.” During these years, he also earned his Education Specialist Certificate from Bowling Green State University in 1974 to start in school administration.
The next chapter of Greg’s professional story was as administrator, serving as Assistant Principal at Thomas Edison and Eber Baker Middle Schools from 1974-1976, Assistant Principal at Marion Harding Freshmen School from 1976-1983, and Director of Athletics at Marion City Schools from 1983-1993, officially retiring from Marion City Schools after 32 years of service. Continuing to be of service to youth and education, Greg worked as an interim principal, guidance counselor, etc. from 1998-2002. He also was an instrumental part of steering committees, helping to pass Marion City School bonds and levies in 1999, 2002, and 2006. He was especially honored to have been inducted into the Marion Harding High School Athletic Hall of Fall in 2004. “Throughout his career, he was known as a man of generosity. Over the years, his many acts of friendship and kindness, always done quietly, without fanfare, behind the scenes – were legendary.”
A tireless worker, Greg “approached every task with tremendous optimism and enthusiasm, a keen mind, and the willingness to work hard.” He used this approach as a teacher, coach and administrator, and somehow he found time for countless other civic endeavors and professional achievements. He “had a neat side gig”, as a professional baseball scout with the Montreal Expos from 1969-1978, and with the Boston Red Sox from 1978-2000, retiring after 31 years. He had twelve sports articles published in various youth sports magazines from 1975-1978. He was selected as “Distinguished Citizen of the Year” in 1980 by Scantland Communications. He also was a member of St. Mary Catholic Church since 1961, where he served as a lector from 1978-1984, the Marion Education Association, Ohio Education Association, National Education Association, Ohio High School Football, Basketball and Baseball Associations, Phi Delta Kappa, Ohio Association of Elementary School Principals, Marion Area Elementary School Principals Association, Ohio Association of Secondary School Principals, Ohio First Aid and Rescue Association, and an Alumni Life Member of The Ohio State University. He served on the board of the Marion Area Reeducation Program (drunk driver rehabilitation) and Marion County Big Brothers, and was on the Marion Popcorn Festival Parade Committee from 1981-1985. He was the WDIF Cancer Stereothon Coordinator from 1979-1982, and Kids for Christmas Campaign Coordinator from 1980-1982. He was appointed by the mayor to serve two consecutive three year terms as Marion, Ohio Board of Parks Commissioner from 1979-1985. He was the Marion County Youth Foundation Charity – Celebrity Chairman from 1994-2019. He was the director of Marion (Ohio) Invitational Semi-Professional Baseball Tournament from 1976-1982, and was a 4-time guest lecturer at Ashland University on Education Administration.
In early 1970, Greg met a bank teller at the National City Bank, Janis Eshman, and he quickly fell for her “beautiful spirit, kindness, and gentle demeanor.” They were married on August 21, 1971, and he was smitten over her every day of their 42 years of marriage. While opposites must have attracted them to one another, they did also share a love for traveling, art, and a passion for helping the youth of Marion County however they could. Janis preceded him in death on September 28, 2013, and family is now comforted that they reunited in Heaven.
Greg “lived each day rooted with the firm belief that God put him on this earth to be kind to others. He made every effort to treat others with love, respect, and compassion.” For Greg, “the glass was not half-empty – and not half-full – it was always overflowing.” “Throughout his life, he believed that faith, integrity, honesty and family were the cornerstone of his existence.” “He devoted his life to others, helping countless individuals and always being available to lend an ear or shoulder.” He will “be remembered as a man who stood by his values and gave friendship unconditionally.” He was “extraordinarily and genuinely interested in the lives of all he encountered.”
Putting it simply as possible, Greg was the best husband, father, teacher, administrator, coach, colleague and dear friend anyone could ever hope for. He also will be remembered for his love for Marion, cherishing every moment of his time here and cheering Marion on every chance he got, and for his avid love for The Ohio State University and OSU sports. Even at his sickest this past year, he was able to attend every OSU home football game except one and that’s only because it rained!
Left to cherish his memory are his daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Abel Rivas of Orlando, Florida; a brother, Barry Swepston of Columbus; two sisters-in-law: Phyllis (Mike) Thomas, and Patricia Eshman; a brother-in-law, Dennis (Jean) Eshman; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Including his wife and parents, Greg was preceded in death by his oldest brother, Donald Swepston.
Services honoring Greg’s life and faith will be live streamed through the Facebook page of Dave Gorenflo on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, at 10:30 AM. A celebration of his life will be announced at a later date once gathering restrictions are lifted to enable his large circle of friends to be able to attend.
Pallbearers are: Abel Rivas, Daniel Shields, Eamonn Eshman, David Webster, Dave White, Dave Gorenflo, Homer McDuffie, Jesse Hines, Rich Habeeb, and Greg “Tubby” Reynolds. Honorary pallbearers are: Dick Brown, Dick Ladd, Donny Laird, Dan Wehrle, Mike Bodine, Dennis Eshman, Mike Thomas, Scott Roper, The Steiger Family, Bob Lindsay, Dr. Stephen Stuart, Ed Bell, Vaughan Williams, Craig Snyder, Harry Fry, Cheryl Huffman, Gary Lovell, and Dave Grube.
Memorial contributions may be made to Homeless to Home Animal Rescue and Cat Sanctuary, 1745 Marion-Waldo Rd, Marion, OH 43302. His family feels blessed this organization welcomed Greg’s two fur babies: Scooter, and Ricky, with open arms.
On behalf of his family, they would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank You” to the OhioHealth Home Health Care Team, the staff and caregivers at Marion Manor, and to the OhioHealth Hospice staff who provided such wonderful care of Greg over the last eleven months. Also, Greg and family will forever be grateful for all of his many friends, coaches, players and students, who have come to visit from all over the state. Their visits truly meant the world to him. A special thank you to his two nephews; Daniel Shields and Eamonn Eshman; and niece, Michele Thomas (Steve Messenger) for always being there for Uncle Greg.
In closing, Greg’s favorite quote was: “Be ashamed to die until you have done something for humanity.” – General Douglas MacArthur. Well Greg…you have nothing to be ashamed of, your significant contributions to humanity will live on forever in the hearts and minds of everyone you touched. As one friend said, Jesus just gained a new best friend.
Snyder Funeral Homes of Marion are honored to serve Greg’s family and your condolences may be expressed to them by visiting www.SnyderFuneralHomes.com.