Hal Gray Swindell Sr.

Published 6:43 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2017

One of Hyde County’s most beloved native sons, Hal Gray Swindell Sr., joined his beloved wife Margaret in heaven on September 25, 2017. He was 95 years old.

Born to Metrah Harvey and Louella O’Neal Swindell on July 19, 1922 on the family farm, Mr. Swindell was a lifelong resident of Swan Quarter, and only left to serve his country during World War II in the United States Navy. He was extremely patriotic and proud of his service from 1944-1946 in the Amphibious Forces.

After an honorable discharge, he attended N.C. State University where he studied electrical engineering. He was an avid Wolfpack fan his entire life, and often attended N.C. State athletic events with his family. He was also quite the N.C. Wesleyan fan when his grandson Hunter was a pitcher on the baseball team there.

In 1947, he married the love of his life, Margaret Whitfield of Greenville. The couple was married for 56 years, until her death in 2003. The marriage produced two children, Mazie Smith and Hal Swindell Jr. Mr. Swindell spent the last several years in the loving care of his family. He was extremely proud of Hal Jr., and his long and successful career in law enforcement, and of Mazie’s in education and public service. He was blessed by the bond he shared with his son-in-law, Dan Smith, and was also very proud of his grandson, Hunter, a teacher who lives in Clayton, NC.

He spent his entire career on Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge as a biologist. He remembered seeing the area surrounding Lake Mattamuskeet become the refuge, and helped develop the drainage system for the central station. He received commendations on several occasions during his career, and was paid stipends for two inventions he developed for the massive drainage pumps on the refuge. His stories about life on the refuge and in Hyde County were fascinating, and he loved remembering and sharing them with anyone who would listen. He and his wife later built a home and retired on the shores of Lake Mattamuskeet.

He served his community in various ways throughout his life as well. He was a member of the Swan Quarter Lions Club for many years, and also served on the Hyde County Board of Commissioners. Mr. Swindell was a life-long Episcopalian but in recent years attended Soule United Methodist Church.

Perhaps nothing impacted his life more greatly than his lifelong, active and devoted membership to Atlantic Lodge in Swan Quarter. Coming from a long line of Master Masons, he was a member of the lodge for 69 years, going through the chairs numerous times. He was proud to have served as secretary of the Lodge for 44 continuous years, and used the teachings of the Lodge to guide his every action. He was also a York Rite Mason and Shriner. As a result, he had a special place in his heart for widows, orphans and handicapped children.

His friends came from near and far, from all walks of life, all colors and faiths; he truly loved his fellow man and lived his Christian faith. He enjoyed spending time in his workshop, restoring vintage Farmall tractors, repurposing and inventing things that made life easier. Rare was the time that someone would stop by and ask for advice or a part that Mr. Swindell wouldn’t be able to help. He also enjoyed mentoring others.

Mr. Swindell was preceded in death by his wife and parents; also his sister Mazie Swindell Hildebrand, and his brother Metrah Blair Swindell. Surviving Mr. Swindell besides his children and grandson is a sister, Mary Lou Harris of Winterville; his niece Jinny Harris McBride and husband Bob of Cape Hatteras; his nephew Tom Harris and wife Darlene of Winterville; his niece Betty Harris Glaze and husband Tony of Alexandria Virginia; his nephew Lonnie Swindell and wife Anne of Cheltenham, Maryland; his nephew Nick Swindell of Texas, and his nephew Bruce Hildebrand and wife Nancy of Hilton Head, S.C.

The family extends special thanks to the staff of Cross Creek Health Care in Swan Quarter and River Trace Nursing and Rehabilitation in Washington. Thanks also to Marie Blanks, Rosie Sanchez, Tieshe Archie and Marisol Wade, Mr. Swindell’s devoted caregivers; to hospice nurse Jessica Mooney for her love and devotion; and to members of the Hyde County EMS and the Swan Quarter Volunteer Fire Department for their compassion and professionalism.

No one’s roots will ever be deeper in Hyde County than Hal Swindell’s. He relished the time he spent swimming, fishing, hunting and enjoying the bounty of his beloved home. He loved the people, and he wanted more than anything for his legacy to be one of a person who left things better than when he found them, and who taught others to preserve and protect God’s creation for future generations. His family and friends agree he met this goal.

Graveside services with full military honors and Masonic rites will be held in the family plot at Soule Cemetery in Swan Quarter at 1 p.m. on Thursday, September 28, 2017. Rev. Ira Smith, brother of Dan Smith, and Jerald Craddock will conduct the ceremony. All United States veterans who attend are asked to wear their uniforms, hats or other items to share in the celebration of a “good soldier, going home.” Visitation will be held on September 27th from 7-9 p.m. at Bryan Funeral Service. Serving as pallbearers will be Ricky Swindell, Lonnie Swindell, Tom Harris, Eddie O’Neal, Horace Whitfield and Dick Tunnell.

The family will receive guests at other times at the home of Dan and Mazie Smith, Judges Quarter Farm, 6200 Quarter Road, Swan Quarter. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Masonic Home for Children, 600 College Street, Oxford, NC 27565.

Arrangements are by Bryan Funeral Service, Swan Quarter, where online sympathy messages can be directed to www.bryanfs.com.