February 4, 1924 ~ December 25, 2022
98 Years Old
Joyce Swearingen, 98 of Nacogdoches, TX passed away Sunday, December 25, 2022 in Nacogdoches.
Funeral Service for Mrs. Swearingen will be held at 11:00, Saturday, December 31, 2022 at First Christian Church.
Visitation for Joyce will be from 5:00-7:00 PM, Friday, December 30, 2022 at First Christian Church.
Joyce Mae Bright Swearingen was born February 4, 1924, a BIN (Born in Nacogdoches) and passed from this earth on her favorite day, December 25th, 2022. Her parents were George Novel Bright and Dovie Mae Bailey Bright. She was the middle child, N.G. Bright the oldest and Charles Bright the baby brother. Her husband, dance partner and the love of her life, for 67 years was James Douglas Swearingen. Joyce was born into a world that she saw many changes in her 98 years. Most of the changes occurring were improved quality of life in Nacogdoches, which she played a large role.
She grew up in Nacogdoches with many friends that she had her entire life. She grew up learning from her parents who always cared for others during the great depression. Her father owned the Bright Grocery store on the square where she learned the art of giving. She and her family were active in the First Christian Church and her grandparents assisted in starting the church. She grew up surrounded by cousins and friends that also shared a love for Nacogdoches.
She attended Nacogdoches High School then to Stephen F. Austin State University at the age of 16. She declared home economics as her major, but her interest soon changed to a business and finance major. She pledged the Pine Burrs, and she was active in so many other campus organizations such as the Stone Fort Yearbook editor and the SFA Band where she met the love of her life, Douglas James Swearingen. Right away Doug began to pursue Joyce. Doug played saxophone and Joyce played the clarinet and he thought she was the cutest freshman. She even helped him pass accounting. During her senior year at SFA she was elected as Miss SFA – the most popular girl on campus. She graduated in 1943.
When WW II hit, while in college, all the men including Doug headed off to war. He wanted to give Joyce an engagement ring but in 1942 he was sent overseas and did not arrive back to the states till December 11, 1945. Dr. Boynton, the SFA President and close friend, encouraged the women to carry out war efforts. Each Wednesday she and Beth Kingham knitted items for the soldiers. In addition he encouraged her and her friends to accept a position with the U.S. Navy. Her first assignment was with the Navy V-12 School at Rice University in Houston. Later that job led to a transfer to Washington D.C. where Joyce worked until the fall of 1944.
After Doug returned in 1945, they married a month later on January 10, 1946. They first lived in Woodville for a year. Then bought the Credit Bureau in Nacogdoches where they lived their life assisting Nacogdoches. They soon bought a house on East Austin, right at the top of the hill. They were there from 1950-1960, where all four children were born. First was Sandra Lou, then James Douglass, John Novel, and Janet Kay.
She has had a successful career, and a phenomenal amount of community service! In 1950’s Joyce and Doug helped the community dream along with others of building a community hotel, The Fredonia Hotel. In fact, Joyce personally typed the certificates for each share that was purchased. She managed the newcomer service club and ran Swearingen Office Equipment and the Credit Bureau for many years while Doug worked for Community Inns traveling and selling securities. She not only managed the business but managed four children. After twenty-two years of operating the business they sold it in 1969. After the sale Joyce joined the recently created Fredonia State Bank. She began at the New Accounts Desk, started The Fredonia Ladies and Gents travel group, and worked her way up to Director of Personal Service, and finally to Vice President in 1975 (The first woman VP). Then became chair of the trust committee and to a directorship position. She also joined the East Texas Group of the National Association of Bank Women where she held the office of treasurer, secretary, vice-chair and chair. Later she was named to its Hall of Fame. In 1984 Friends and coworkers established a Joyce Swearingen Scholarship at SFA for woman in finance.
She was also very involved in her community by being an active member of the Chamber of Nacogdoches and became the first Women Chamber President. Joyce had a lifetime of public speaking. One of her most inspiring speeches ended up with a bit of wisdom: “If you think you are beaten, you are. The person who wins is the person who thinks he can. We make the world in which we live by the goals we pursue.
She was a fund raiser extraordinaire for the Chamber, the United Way, SFA’s Foundation, Friends of Music, Nacogdoches Heralds and for Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority. She along with a small group started the Heritage Festival, Old Timers Breakfast in which Joyce Chaired the first. The list could go on, for all the first she embarked on and the many awards she has received from the Athena Award, to Woman of the year, etc.
Joyce was very involved in her church, First Christian, where she taught Sunday School, served on the board several times, became the first woman board President, President of the Woman’s group, worked in the kitchen for numerous luncheon, assisted in raising money for the first expansion and attended every service she could.
Even though her career was extraordinary she is best known for her giving. I know everyone has tasted Joyce’s cooking from brisket, her famous chocolate sheet cake, or her famous strawberry salad. She was always cooking for someone or taking something to someone. She loved to do for others and did she did it in the most loving way. She loved to send cards to everyone to let them know how important they were with a personal note.
Joyce loved to entertain. She always made everyone feel that they were a part of the Swearingen family. Holidays were a special time for her and she loved having everyone over. She always had a gift or food to share with everyone that stopped by.
Joyce’s life demonstrated the principle of love as a multiplier, never a divider. She loved each of her children, her grandchildren, and great grandchildren and their spouses equally. Everyone including her friends has felt her love and encouragement their entire life. She is an example we should all try to mimic.
She is survived by her Children: Sandra Lou Tatum and husband Lonnie from Highland Village, James Douglas Swearingen and wife Robin of Nacogdoches, John (Nibble) Novel Swearingen and wife Sally Ann of Nacogdoches and Janet Kay Baxter Hunt and husband Lacy of Austin.
Joyce had nine grandchildren: Charles Howard (Chuck) French and his wife Missy from Nacogdoches; Christopher Douglas Swearingen from Austin, Paul Thomas Strawther and wife Holly from Plano; Ashley Elizabeth Stout and husband Cole from Austin; Abbie Blair Adams and husband Aaron from Austin, Holly Baxter from Austin, Christina Leigh Swearingen from Nacogdoches; John Basey Swearingen from Nacogdoches and Dovie Ann Velez and husband Gabriel from Houston.
Joyce is survived by great-grandchildren Alaunah Hall, Logan Swearingen, Jordan French, Brandon French, Izabelle Swearingen, Jack Stout, Hollis Stout, Wright Stout, Murphy Stout, and Tallan plus numerous cousins, nieces and nephews among the Brights, Baileys and Swearingen families.
The Swearingen family wants to thank her wonderful care givers: Cathy Christian (CC and BFF), Rhonda Henry, Henrietta Johnson, Heart to Heart Hospice Staff, along with Dr. Richard Baker and staff, and Dr. Pokala and staff.
Pallbearers will be Chuck French, Christopher Swearingen, Paul Strawther, Basey Swearingen, Brandon French and Logan Swearingen
Funeral services will be Saturday, December 31st at 11:00 a.m. at First Christian Church, 702 N. Mound Street, gravesite to follow at Oak Grove. Visitation is on Friday, December 30th from 5:00- 7:00 p.m. at First Christian Church.
Honorary Pallbearers: Cathy Christian, Rhonda Henry, Henrietta Johnson, Heart to Heart Hospice Staff, Sarah Pennington, Juanita Birdwell, Jackie Wartham, Judy Meyer, Elizabeth Davidson, Betty Shinn, Larilee and Joe Kiesel, Betty Griffin, Michael and Jody McLean, Ladies of the Heritage Club, Kaki and Ricky Nelson, Margaret Russell, Rick Still, Frank and Tricia Still, Craig Stripling, Gary Woods, Pattye Greer, DAR, Dr. Richard Baker & Staff, and Dr. Pokala and Staff.
In Lieu of flowers memorials may be sent to First Christian Church Building Fund, 702 N. Mound, or Love INC, P.O. Box 630423, Nacogdoches, TX 75963 or the Joyce and Doug Swearingen Scholarship, or Joyce Bright Swearingen Scholarship – SFA Foundation, P.O. Box 6092, SFA, Nacogdoches, TX 75962 or SFA Friends of Music, P.O. Box 13043, SFA, Nacogdoches, TX 75962.