Swinny will be in local minds during ‘Relay’

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2001

The late James Swinny will be on the minds of many Miss-Lou residents as they prepare for next month’s Relay for Life.

Swinny, the owner of the Ramada Inn Hilltop in Natchez, long supported the event, said Janell Verucchi, chairman of the Relay for Life, which raises money for the American Cancer Society.

&uot;With that being said, we chose in his passing that we would dedicate the relay to his memory,&uot; Verucchi said.

Each year, organizers dedicate the relay to someone who has supported the event and suffered from or died from cancer like Swinny.

Swinny died of colon cancer July 3. He was 77.

&uot;It’s overwhelming,&uot; said Swinny’s daughter, Valerie Bergeron. &uot;I don’t think we ever expected that honor.&uot;

Bergeron said her father would be happy to know he could play a part in curing cancer even after his death.

&uot;You know that somewhere out there, there’s a cure,&uot; Bergeron said. &uot;We just can’t drop the ball.&uot;

This year is the second year the Ramada Inn Hilltop has put together a team to raise money for the Relay for Life, but it has supported the event for years, Verucchi said.

&uot;He wanted us to become a part of the relay and give it our best effort,&uot; said Swinny’s son, Scott Swinny.

This year’s dedication seems fitting considering his children’s memories.

Bergeron said her father always put himself in the same position or the same shoes as someone else when faced with situations in life.

&uot;It was just the most beautiful philosophy about people, and he had a strong strong faith in humanity,&uot; Bergeron said.

Swinny was first diagnosed with cancer in the spring of 1999 and after a stay at a Texas hospital that July, he spent the last year of his life in Natchez, dying almost a year to the day later.

&uot;I think he realized it was going to get him,&uot; Bergeron said.

To the family, a great blessing was having Swinny at home in Natchez when he died.

&uot;He never…showed us any severe pain, and he died at home with his family around him,&uot; said John Bergeron, Swinny’s son-in-law.

The year of his death was the first year Ramada Inn Hilltop sponsored a Relay for Life team.

&uot;He was adamant about us becoming a part of it and supporting it,&uot; Scott Swinny said.

This year, the Swinny family and the Ramada Relay For Life team plan to dress in camouflage to illustrate their theme, &uot;Hunting for a Cure.&uot;

In addition to selling food race night, they will also hold several raffles including a night’s stay at Dunleith Plantation and a night at the Ramada Inn Hilltop during this fall’s balloon race weekend.

Swinny is survived by his wife, Betty; five children, Valerie Bergeron, James Haywood Swinny III, Mizette &uot;Mimi&uot; Hinson, Lee Dabney Swinny and Scott Reginald MacEachron Swinny and eight grandchildren.

The Miss-Lou Relay for Life 2001 will take place May 4 at the Vidalia Landing on the Riverfront. Organizers hope to raise $100,000 this year.