Gregory Brian Swepston

March 26, 1938 ‒ March 18, 2020

Marion, Ohio
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.

  • To the Swepston family, sorry for you loss of one of the greatest man that I came into contact with. I graduated Marion Harding in 1979, and he was who help me understand what life was about. Never a negative word, but constructive, optimistic and confident. He was also a good joke teller, and would like to leave you hanging. He also like pizza, Tubby’s pizza. I believe that Tubby’s was his second home. Prayers for your family and everyone should raise a toast in his honor.

  • I am so sorry to hear of Greg’s passing. I knew him as a student at Harding and as a colleague when I taught at Harding. Prayers for the family…. Wonderful and gentle man that I admired.

  • I’am sorry to hear of Mr.Swepton’s passing i met him when he was a principle at Harding Freshman building he was a great person he helped me alot GOD BLESS him my deepest condolences to the FAMILY.

  • We are very sorry to hear this. Swep was a very caring person and will be missed by family and many friends . RIP Swep

  • So sorry to hear of Coach’s passing. He was a gentle and generous man. Warmest wishes to Julie and the family.

  • When I moved up from grade school to junior high an older neighbor introduced me to Coach, I like vaulted in my back yard. It was like meeting a celebrity. I was in awe. Later in life Greg became a good friend. We saw him at Sunday mass. Marilyn and I took him communion at home. What a generous and gracious man. We were at Son of Thurmans several years ago,ran i to Greg when we left we found out out Bill had been paid. That is the kind of man Greg was. Dave Gorenflo’s words were so right on. I am a better person for just knowing Greg. I only wish I could be half the man that he was. We will miss him, but never forget him. RIP Greg

  • Wow! Just Wow! What a great tribute to a great human being! Coach truly made a positive difference in the lives of so many many people during his time on this earth. Our world is so much better due to the presence of Greg Swepston! Nothing more I can add except my thanks to God for being so blessed to have been touched by Coach Swep beginning way back in 1961 and to have been one of “Greg Swepston’s boys” during my formative years. His example and influence made me a better person.

    My condolences to Julie, Barry and the rest of the extended Swepston family. He will never truly be gone for us because he will never be forgotten! May he rest in peace for a life well lived and a job well done!

    Jeff McCurdy
    Hamilton, Ohio

  • Condolences from the entire McCurdy family. Our family has known him since he first started teaching in Marion. Coach was always interested in our personal lives and stories. He invariably had some quip or witticism to relate and most times if you thought about what he said it was profound. His whole being was about helping others and the world will be a lesser place in his absence. We should all endeavor to emulate his approach to life and those around us. RIP Coach until we meet again.

  • What a wonderful tribute to a truly wonderful man. So many people he touched and inspired in Marion. One of the greats! My heartfelt love to Julie and Barry and all the extended family, especially the Eshmans. He was a cherished part of their universe. Thoughts to you all as you begin to navigate this very new path. Know that Greg is held lovingly in so many hearts across the country.

  • Greg Swepston was a gentleman who I met 3 years ago at Huntington Park home of the Columbus Clippers AAA baseball team. I am an usher there and Greg plus brother Barry came to a game one summer night . He immediately introduced himself to me and asked where I lived??? I told him Marion, Ohio and he immediately said you are now known as “Marty Marion” to me and whoever I bring to a game at the stadium. We had so many great times at the park, him watching games with his score sheet charting every pitch and every hit while I would take care of him and other customers. I would always give him some cracker jacks or peanuts which he greatly appreciated. I am going to miss you Greg but will never forget you. My condolence to Julie, Barry and the rest of the family.

    Marty “Marion” Riggs

  • The Aquinas College High School Alumni Association would like to offer its sincerest condolences to Greg’s family and friends. A Mass will be offered for him by a Dominican Friar at St. Patrick Church, Columbus, OH.

  • What a beautiful tribute. While I was not fortunate enough to know him personally, it certainly speaks to why he has such a wonderful daughter with a kind and generous spirit. I am blessed to call you a friend Julie. You, Abel and your family are I my prayers.

  • I have fond memories of Mr. Swepston all through high school at both the freshman bldg and main campus. It’s funny how you have an idea of who someone is and then find out what an amazing life they had. He was a truly amazing educator and administrator. But, even more than that he was a wonderful, kind-hearted father and friend to so many. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Julie and I were in many classes together throughout high school. Stay strong and know he is with your Mom and that one day you will be reunited.

  • We have lost a wonderful man who promoted the best for all of Marion and wanted nothing but the best for the youth of the community. So glad I had the opportunity to talk with Greg in May last year when I was in Marion. May he RIP in the lords house. Our prayers to the family and friends!
    Steve and Carol Wright
    Corinth, TX

  • God speed Greg. You were a great classmate and a pleasure to know. May the eternal light shine upon you and may you rest in peace.

  • Greg was my basketball coach, coaching mentor and ultimately, good friend. From him I learned the necessity of disciplined preparation, attention to detail, and the importance of treating others with compassion and kindness. Over time it became clear to me that my emotional state was always elevated after an encounter with “Coach Swep” As a model of genuine human decency he will be missed by the Marion community and beyond, but his wonderful legacy will be long lasting.
    With my deepest condolences to Julie and all the family,

    Randy Gipson
    Tahlequah, Oklahoma

  • Oh my, what a wonderful man that we learned so much from. Graduated in 79. Mr. Swepston was my in car instructor for drivers ed. We had great times and he was sooo patient.

  • Greg was a wonderful, sweet man. When I worked at office depot he would bring us Mcdonald’s. I remember calling him when he first got sick cause he was unusual for him to not be in the store everyday. I will remember our talks, and the friendship we had. May you Rip Greg. you will be missed.

  • Love, sympathy, and prayers to Greg’s family. Greg was one of my Favorite Aquinians!
    He graduated from Aquinas with my brother Jim Mentel in 1956 – teammates on the City Championship Baseball Team. He wrote a beautiful Memorial to my brother Jim when he passed in July, 2017. May the angels lead him into paradise.
    Barb Mentel Mangini

  • My family lived next to the Swepston’s for many years. Have such sweet, loving memories of that time. So very sorry for your loss, Barry. You know Greg was welcomed with a warm embrace by Janis, your parents, Don, my parents, and the throngs of people who knew and loved Greg. We were all blessed with his presence.

    Much love,
    Sharon Roach Hatem

  • What is the best way those of us left behind can pay tribute to this great human being who was so huge in our own lives? What is the best thing we can do in our own lives to keep alive and thriving his memory? The answer is simple” “Pay forward'” Be, as both Greg and Janis were, a servant, a reflection of the love of God for all to see. Every time I personally think of Greg, aside from all those memories of the fun and laughter we shared, and all those kindnesses, great and small, directed toward me and my family, my children, I will remember an expression I heard him say from time to time: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
    To those of us who knew and loved this great man, one thing was obvious — Greg Swepston cared.

  • What a nice guy when l was on the school board in the 80s Greg was so easy to work with Marion will miss Greg

  • Marion is a better community because of Greg Swepston. It was fun and uplifting to know Greg and Janis.

    Rev Dan Kiger

  • Marion is a better community because of Greg Swepston. It was fun and uplifting to know Greg and Janis.

    Rev Dan Kiger

  • We are all so fortunate to have had Coach Swepston as a part of our lives. So many great memories and life lessons. I remember at the ’72 Winter Sports Banquet, Coach told the audience regarding our ‘short’ team, “We don’t measure our kids from the ground up…we measure them from the inside out.” I cannot think of a better example of this philosophy than Coach Swepston himself. Thank you, Coach, for everything.

    Dusty Roads

  • We would like to extend our sympathy to the Greg Swepston family. His obituary and condolences are proof of all the special qualities of Greg. He was one of a kind!

    Steve Long
    Beth Bishop-Long
    Denver, North Carolina

  • I grew up 2 houses from Greg and his brothers on Piedmont Rd. in Columbus. It is no surprise he was a fine man as he was a great kid.We had a lot of fun together in the 50’s and I will miss him. So will everyone who knew him.

  • I remember Greg as a chartermember of the Pizza Villa in Clintonille. He was a sport trivia expert and just an overall nice guy. What a legacy. God Bless. Harry Gardner

  • I remember Greg from when we were teammates on the IC CYO basketball team in the early 1960’s. A team player with a quiet intensity. My best to his Family.
    Orv Lyons

  • I first met Greg Swepston as an eighth grade student in his health class. Little did I know at that time the profound impact he would have on my life. He was my high school baseball coach, mentor and eventually a trusted friend. It was impossible to spend time with Greg and not feel uplifted. He encouraged me to pursue a career in education; making it seem a noble cause. The massive influence of Greg Swepston, Dick Brown, and Dan Baker led me to a 46 year career in teaching/coaching. That’s a debt I can never repay.

    My deepest condolences to Julie and the Eshman family. This is a deep loss.

  • Me. Swepston was one of the sweetest men I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. He was kind beyond words and made me smile whenever I saw him. I know my daughter, Natalie and I along with everyone he touched will truly miss him.

  • 3/22/20
    I was blessed to know and work with Greg. Over the years, I’ve saved the envelopes from his and Jan’s Christmas cards and then just his bc they made me feel good to see how he always wrote “The Wonderful” on the address. Now, those envelopes are even more precious. For Greg’s family, I am so sorry for your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Our prayers and condolences to Gregg’s family. Gregg was a wonderful inspiration to anyone he met. He always had a positive attitude which he obviously passed on to those who were around him. So many students and adults have benefited from his guidance and friendship. He was a great mentor for our son’s athletic career at Harding. We will miss seeing Gregg’s s presence at so many activities. He was an inspiration.

  • Of all the things a person may be remembered for in a lifetime – financial gain, fame, possessions – there is no greater measure of a man than to be known for kindness and compassion. Being Jesus to people – a hand extended in friendship and giving and lifting others up is Greg’s legacy. May Greg’s loved ones be comforted with the blessing of having had him in their lives – for all of us to have been shown what love for fellow man and God’s creation is. We are grateful for this life lived well, and for Greg’s eternity with the Author of Love.

  • Julie, I hope you can feel all the love and support of the “Sweppy Nation.” Your dad was a special guy filled with humility, finesse and grace. He was the epitome of a model that many of us, who were blessed to be his students, athletes, peers and friends have all adopted as our own. There is not enough space here to express the love and gratitude we had for this man. He was a giant, and generations of coaches and athletes have lost a mentor, a brother and a friend. Thank you for sharing him with us.

  • I was a member of Greg’s first 8th grade team and carried over to the 9th grade. I can’t do justice explaining the positive effect he had on my life. A sweet, generous person, he could also be tough which when I learned life’s lessons. He taught me to respect people and to work hard to better myself.

    He had a great sense of humor that I still remember vividly. His playbook was thick and he always gave plays crazy names – “twinkle” and “sparkle.” He bought a brand new 1963 Chevy Impala that everyone was crazy about. I remember riding in it to go see a NBA game in Columbus to see Cincy Royals and 76ers. He got us in the locker room area where I got Oscar Robertson’s autograph- still my most treasured items.

    I was thinking about him last week when I was going through my scrape book. Maybe prescient who knows. To read such an extensive obituary is not surprising. He was a gift to Marion, Ohio.
    Thank you Coach for everything.

  • Greg was a model for all of us. He saw the value in everyone and we all felt good for knowing him. He was a gentleman to be looked up to.

  • Julie, your Dad “Sweppy” was a great man. So glad we were able to visit with Greg last August. We always enjoyed visiting with him when coming back to Marion Many times he would come over to Dad’s (Dan Reams) just to see us. Our sons Alex and Dylan always got a kick out of the birthday or Christmas gifts he gave Dan as he always signed the card from such people as Woody Hayes or Tokyo Rose. Greg was such a great friend to Dan. And we greatly appreciated that. We will surely miss Greg. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    Randy and Julie Reams

  • Thank you Mr. Swepston!

    My mother was a retired Marion City Schools food service employee who worked in several buildings during her time at the schools. Regretfully, she passed away over a year ago, but Mr. Swepston brought joy to my family in our darkest time. I graduated from Marion Harding in 1985 and only had limited contact with Mr. Swepston. On the day of my mother’s funeral, he gave my family a hand written letter espousing the greatness of my mother. He actually showed up for the funeral and stayed for the entire service. It is obvious from the stories I have enjoyed reading about Mr. Swepston that he was a great man. Most importantly to me he truly “walked the walk”.

    Mel Rentschler and Family

  • I will miss running into Coach at Clippers game and talking baseball. He always made me feel as if I were exactly the person he was hoping to see. I am very blessed to have known him, and so grateful for the love and friendship he showed my mom, particularly as her health failed. She cherished his visits and hand-written notes.

    Sending prayers for the family.

    Reds Foreman

  • The quantity and quality of condolences on Greg’s passing are testimony to the level of respect, love, and admiration in which he was held. Like so many others, I knew him and always enjoyed seeing him and talking to him. At all times, he was friendly and concerned for me and my family. That is why Greg is so deeply mourned.

  • Greg was one of those people who could light up a room with his smile. He always treated everyone from all walks of life with fairness and respect. Never an unkind word was spoken but always words of encouragement. He leaves behind a legacy of men and women for whom he was a role model of class and charity. He will be missed by family , friends and a grateful community.

    Ted and Kathy McKinniss

  • What a lovely man. I’m so sorry i wasn’t at the reunion….to spend some time with him. He was truly special. I remember when i was doing on air TV sports in Los Angeles….i had a message from him after the newscast one night. He was in town….and had seen me on the air. He told the person who answered the phone “I’m not sure she’ll remember me.” What??? Of course…i did and will always remember him. We had a lovely talk. He’ll be greatly missed.

  • What a wonderful and warm person Greg was. I have pleasant memories of knowing him while we both had teaching assignments many years ago in the “60’s at Eber Baker Junior High. He leaves behind for us an admirable legacy of accomplishments and caring actions.