Cover photo for James Lee Swim, Sr.'s Obituary
James Lee Swim, Sr. Profile Photo

James Lee Swim, Sr.

February 26, 1931 — July 20, 2022

James Lee Swim, Sr, 91, Marysville, died Wednesday, July 20, 2022 at Blue Valley Senior Living, Blue Rapids. Visitation will be held Thursday, July 28 from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. at Kinsley Mortuary, Marysville. The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Funeral service will be held 10 a.m., Friday, July 29 at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Marysville. Burial will be in Marysville City Cemetery. Jim was the second son of James Curtis Swim and Henrietta Caroline (Johnson) Swim and was born on 26 February 1931 in Fargo, North Dakota. He moved as an infant with his parents and two older siblings to Marysville, Kansas when his father became superintendent of the Armour & Company’s farm products processing plant. Jim was baptized into the Lutheran church and attended parochial school for two years before completing his elementary schooling at Marysville Central School. He went on to attend Marysville High School and was highly active in high school athletics earning 11 varsity letters – track & field (4), basketball (4), and football (3). Due to his athleticism, he was honored by being selected to the all-State football team and to the high school All American track & field team. He also set an all-State record in the javelin throw as a junior at Marysville High School. The day after high school graduation in May 1949, Jim left Marysville and drove to the Alaska Territory. Emboldened such a once in a lifetime adventure, he then flew to Fairbanks, Alaska with a bush pilot the following summer of 1950 and rejoined the Alaska Railroad (ARR) bridge gang where he had worked the previous summer. In the fall of 1949 Jim attended Kansas State Agricultural College (now Kansas State University) and played football his freshman year. But, due to his skill and talent in throwing the javelin, he was recruited by the University of Kansas track coach, Bill Easton, and transferred to KU where he earned three letters in track & field, was Big Seven conference champion in the javelin throw, and participated in the NCAA, Division I, track & field finals in the javelin throw. Also, while at KU, Jim joined the Alpha Tau Omega social fraternity where he held several offices. He also joined the Air Force ROTC. Jim graduated from KU with a Bachelor of Science in Geology. During a historic blizzard, Jim married Bernice Lucille Gleue on 29 November 1952 at Mount Calvary Lutheran Church. They were lovingly devoted to each other and were married 69 years. After graduating KU and completing his ROTC requirements in 1955, Jim reported for active military duty with the USAF at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. He spent two months in Texas before being assigned to Graham AFB in Marianna, Florida. In January 1956 Jim reported for duty at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, Texas. In June 1956 Jim received his pilot’s wings becoming a multi-engine, single-engine flying officer with an instrument rating. He graduated as an honor student, 4th in standing in his class, which gave him his choice of mission duty assignments. He chose to accept a mission assignment to James Connally AFB in Waco, Texas where he went through aircraft commander school and transitioned to piloting the Convair T-29 Flying Classroom. During his career with the USAF, Jim flew about 3500 total hours in aircraft such as the Piper Super Cub, T-6 Texan, B-25, and T-29 with additional missions in the T-33 jet and KB-29 tanker. He was recruited by NASA for Project Mercury but declined because he had three children, one of whom, Curtis Alan, was severely ill at the time. Jim left active duty with an honorable discharge from the USAF in 1958. As a civilian, Jim remained active in flying by being a member of several local Marshall County flying clubs, by serving on the City of Marysville Airport Advisory Committee, and by giving private flying lessons as a CFII flight instructor. After leaving the USAF, Jim secured work with Seaboard Oil Company, which was subsequently purchased by Texaco Oil Company. Not suited for the corporate lifestyle, Jim returned to Marysville in 1959 and took over operations of the Swim Locker Service, which his father had established in the old Pony Express Barn, Home Station #1. Jim and his wife, Bernice, also started the first Pony Express Museum behind the old Swim Locker. He later developed a specialty meat product line and in 1968 built a new meat processing and mail-order facility east of Marysville on US Highway 36. He renamed the family business The Pony Express Ranch and operated it with his wife, Bernice, for 55 years before retiring in 2002. Jim was actively involved in Marysville community affairs as well as being active in State and Local politics. Some of his communal activities have included serving on the boards and leadership roles for the following: the American Legion, Post #163 & Honor Guard; the Marysville Rotary Club; the annual Jolly Jogathon Track Meet; the Marysville Chamber of Commerce; the Board of Directors for Community Memorial Healthcare; the Marshall County Retarded Children’s Association, the Marysville School Board, the Convention and Tourist Committee for the City of Marysville, the Marysville City Cemetery Board, the MHS Stadium Rebuild Committee, the 100th Anniversary Pony Express Re-Run Committee, the Financial Secretary for the Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, and on the committee for endowment funds for Mount Calvary Lutheran Church. Jim was preceded in death by his parents and his son, Curtis Alan. He is survived by his wife, Bernice, and by his children Jim Swim, Jr., Jeri Vineyard, Jill Ryan, and Eric Swim; seven grandchildren, five step grandchildren, six great grandchildren, 10 step great grandchildren, and one great, great step grandchild. The family requests that in lieu of sending flowers charitable donations be made on behalf of James Lee Swim and Curtis Alan Swim to the Kansas Neurological Institute located in Topeka, Kansas. To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James Lee Swim, Sr., please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Thursday, July 28, 2022

10:00am - 9:00 pm

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Family Gathering

Thursday, July 28, 2022

5:00 - 7:00 pm

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Funeral Service

Friday, July 29, 2022

Starts at 10:00 am

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Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church

1710 Jenkins St
Marysville, KS 66508

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