SWALM, Eunice O.
September 3, 1926 – December 3, 2020
Eunice was a quietly courageous woman. Born in Ohio, the 3rd of 8 children she faced the hardships of the Great Depression and World War II. Her father was a rambling soul that found it difficult to settle, never living more than a couple of years in any given place. He was in his middle 30’s when he came to faith and found the peace that would begin to give the family the security they needed. When Eunice was 6 years old, revival services came to town where she and a couple of her friends responded to the message of the gospel. This step of obedience would become the turning point in her life.
During her late teens Mom believed that God was calling her to pursue higher Christian Education choosing to enroll in Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. This was a huge step for a small-town girl to make just after the war. She completed a couple of years at Moody and then transferred to Bethel College in South Bend Indiana, the new college for the United Missionary Church. It was there that she would meet our Father, Willard Swalm*, who had just arrived all the way from Didsbury, Alberta. She was part of the first graduating class in 1949 and then worked for the president of the College until marrying Willard in 1951. They took the long journey by car from South Bend to Didsbury, where they were deployed into ministry at the Bergen Church. They would go on to Pastor the First Edmonton Church, plant the now Crossroads Church in Red Deer, serve as District Superintendent and completed their ministry at the Zion Church in Didsbury.
*Willard Swalm is a pre-deceased Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada (EMCC) Ordained Minister.
But life cannot be reduced simply to places and dates. Their first child, Cynthia Pearl, would die of SIDS at the age of 3 months in the remote area of Bergen far from her family and support systems. The isolation and grief would almost break her. But the practice of hospitality and church ministry and the making of life still called and somehow, she managed to find the courage – God gave her the grace – to go on. That loss would always color their lives.
Eunice was known for her care and mentoring of those who needed that extra touch in their lives. Her way was always gentle and compassionate. She loved music. She could play the piano well and found joy and solace in being able to play for those listening or just alone in her room. On Sunday evenings churches from the surrounding area provided worship services for the Seniors Lodge where she lived the last six years of her life. During Covid, those services were suspended but Mom stepped forward, prepared some devotional reflections, played the piano and lead the residents in worship. Such a courageous and gracious woman.
We will miss her. She leaves behind her daughters, Nyla Kirbyson (Howard), Carol Tucker (Ken) and Murray Swalm* (Lorrie) plus seven grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. She will be sorely missed by all of those who had the privilege to know her and be loved by her.
*Murray Swalm is an Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada (EMCC) Ordained Minister.