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A Legacy of Integrity

Dave “Reid” Swormstedt Jr., former ST Publications president, leaves a glowing legacy behind.

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My Dad died unexpectedly on January 17. Blessings often occur this way. My Dad was deteriorating rapidly, and life was becoming an ordeal. Dave Reid Swormstedt, Jr. (known as “Reid” in the industry, because his father was Dave) was part of Signs of the Times Publishing Co. (our former name) from 1954-1991. He served as president of the company from 1979 until he retired. He was much more closely involved with our Screen Printing magazine prior to becoming a manager. So very few of you would have known him.

My Dad was about substance, not style. “Integrity” is easily the single word that best describes him. I recall my Mom telling me that, quite often, when my Dad was with business friends in a non-business situation, they would be amazed when he wouldn’t put any charges on an expense account. Neither would he “tweak the books” for tax purposes. A company employee had a child with disabilities, and an insurance company suggested that we could greatly lower out costs if we would get rid of her. My Dad showed the representative the door.

When my Dad started here, printing was still done with hot type. He had zero computer background when they first became available, but he taught himself, and personally wrote the programs for our first forays into computerized accounting, circulation, etc.

He was the Scoutmaster of our Boy Scout troop for several years, and he helped many boys achieve their Reptile Study merit badge. My Dad loved nature. He was heavily involved with the Cincinnati Herpetological Society (which means snakes), and his bird count as an amateur ornithologist was in the 400s. We had raccoons as temporary pets four times when I was a child; we rescued one baby on a Father’s Day. Our dog, Skippy, lived to be 17.

Because he was primarily a behind-the-scenes guy, I don’t believe he ever won any awards. I don’t recall him having done any public speaking. I’m not aware of any writing he’d done (except for his very detailed snake records, which a friend used to obtain a Ph.D.). My dad didn’t need (or want) any acclaim, but I was so happy to be able to laud him in a 1991 editorial when he retired.

At the end of the Randy Travis song, “Three Wooden Crosses,” two lines read: “It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you. It’s what you leave behind you when you go.” I was extremely blessed to have the Dad I had. Our company was extremely blessed to have him as its leader. My Dad left a legacy of integrity that his children and grandchildren will try to live up to and pass on.

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Memorials may be sent to the American Sign Museum, 1330 Monmouth St., Cincinnati, OH 45225
 

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