Herbert Earl ‘Bert’ Swainson

Monday, December 2, 2019
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Herbert Earl “Bert” Swainson, 77, of Paradise Valley passed away on Nov. 20, 2019. Bert received his final clearance for VFR-on-top and he’s now flying free.

Bert was a natural-born pilot. He attended flight school in Oklahoma, where he bought his first airplane, an Aeronca Champ. He operated Yellowstone Skyways at Mission Field in Livingston. Along with Jim Gibson and Ralph Adams, they nicknamed themselves “The Confederate Airforce” and flew Stearman biplanes in formation crop-dusting throughout Park County. He received the Hiller Helicopter Award for High Mountain Search and Rescue. Bert helped many folks begin their flying careers, including teaching a local hero, Gerhart Blain, to pilot a helicopter. He also shared his passion and love for flying with his own children, and they each earned their wings as licensed pilots.

Bert lived in Paradise Valley most of his life and was loved and supported by so many neighbors. His family remembers stories of adventure — flying airplanes under bridges and landing helicopters on mountaintops; picking up his children from the playground at Arrowhead School and St. Mary’s School; competing in aerobatic flight; riding a snowmobile across the lake in Yellowstone Park; hunting and guiding on horseback; camping on 8-mile; building roads as a heavy equipment operator; and floating the river.

His son Randy preceded him in death earlier this year. Bert was also preceded in death by his parents, Ethel and Walker Swainson; brother Jack Swainson; sister Joyce Gibson (Jim); and his first true love and wife, Marilyn Ward Swainson.

His memory lives on in his children Wanda Drudis-Swainson (Carol) and Lara Gaglia (Phil); their mother, Allene Swainson; grandchildren Annalyn and Aidan Drudis-Swainson, Maddy Gaglia Williamson and her family, Dante Gaglia, Savannah Gaglia, and Tristan and Taylor Swainson.

The family is grateful to the staff of the Advanced Care Hospital in Billings and Livingston Fire and Rescue for helping him go home, and Bear and Cari Paul, and Fred and Linda Counts for their loving care at the end of his life.

Dad, you will be greatly missed and a celebration of your life will take place when the grass is green in the spring.

To view the obituary and share condolences, visit www.Franzen-Davis.com.