The Greatest Generation was born in the shadow of the War to End All Wars and the flu pandemic associated with it. They worked us out of The Great Depression and World War II. It was strife that made them strong. Dorothy Lorraine (née Wheeler) Swearingen passed away on Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, in Grangeville. She was 95.
She was born Dec. 28, 1924, to Rufus Earl and Francis Alabama Ehrlich Wheeler in Flandreau, Moody County, S.D. She was the fifth of seven children.
She attended school in Gallipolis, Ohio. She graduated from Gallia Academy in 1943, a member of the Girls Athletic Association and the National Honor Society. She learned to drive by watching her father Earl, a rural mail carrier, and taking over his 1940 Ford for him when he was ill.
World War II was in full swing when she began training to be a nurse. She finished one year and felt she should not continue as she hated to see people suffer. Late in the war, Dorothy worked for the Department of War at Oak Ridge, Tenn., where work on the atom bomb was done. She had no idea what she was actually doing, other than reading dials, gauges and writing down numbers, and she knew not to talk about it.
When the war ended, Dorothy moved to southern Missouri, where her parents had roots. There she met a recently discharged U.S. Army vet, Charles “Truman” Swearingen Sr. They were married in a dual ceremony with Clark Godsy and Marcella Swearingen, Truman’s sister, in January of 1946.
Soon after their marriage, the newlyweds moved to Rupert, Idaho, and began farming. They moved about, living in Rupert, Moses Lake, Hailey, Salt Lake City, Gooding, Mountain Home, Lewiston and Grangeville. She resided on the Camas Prairie from 1974 until her passing. Truman worked as an auto parts man while Dorothy was a mother, housewife, waitress in cafes and diners, nurse’s aide in a tuberculosis hospital and various nursing homes.
She was proud of the fact she had waited on Ernest Hemingway and other celebrities like Gary Cooper at the Alpine Cafe in Ketchum. Dorothy loved to crochet and knit, but most often she would crochet fine cotton thread into intricate doilies, tablecloths, and bedspreads. She would regularly win blue ribbons in county fairs, with the occasional purple best in show. She kept up on current events and supported the Democratic Party.
She and Truman loved to camp and were friends with the Obenchains, owners of Pine, Idaho, an old-fashioned mountain resort of the ’60s in the Trinities. They were also friends with the Andersons, owners of a motel along the banks of the Salmon River in Stanley when it and a bath house were the only things there. She was very fond of Marla, Sherry and Patti Anderson. Dorothy was active in the Cub Scouts and Girls Scouts of the USA for a time.
She loved all her friends and family as they came and went. She started out bragging about her mother, father and brothers and sisters and rotated through her husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Dorothy was preceded in death by her brothers and sisters; Maurice, a stillborn son; husband, Truman; and daughter, Janna Marie Anderson.
She is survived by three children, Charles T. (Connie) Swearingen Jr. of Marsing, Idaho, Dale E. (Duskie) Swearingen of Idaho City, and G. Scott (Pamela) Swearingen of Syringa, Idaho.
Dorothy made arrangements to be cremated. Burial will take place later in the Cottonwood Protestant Cemetery, where Truman is interred. Dorothy’s family wishes to give a special thank you to Jennifer and Richard Artley for their care and comfort of Dorothy, Grangeville Health and Rehab Center and Dr. Bruner.