Earl D. Swinson Jr. ’73 died on May 7, 2017, in Bowdoinham, Maine.
Earl Durant Swinson, “Mr. Earl,” 66, left this world a poorer place on May 9, 2017. A long-time resident of Bowdoinham, Maine, Earl was born in the Brooklyn Park neighborhood of Baltimore in 1951 to Earl and Doris Swinson.
You knew him as the warm personality bagging groceries at Hannaford’s in Brunswick or, with his found name tag, as “Starla” at Target, or you met him on Maine Street where he treated you like a human instead of a stranger. You heard his enthusiasm and sorrows, which he shared with you because you mattered to him. But did you know as a kid he played with the Cardinals, became a lifelong Orioles fan and beloved coach of winning little league teams in Bowdoinham and Topsham? Did you maybe see him in action as an umpire or follow his colorful sports writing in the Times Record and Portland Press Herald? Maybe you saved something he wrote about your kid.
Did you know his sixth grade teacher helped him find his way to a school equal to his potential, McDonogh, where he graduated as a cadet lieutenant with awards in English and journalism? Or that he was a scholarship kid at Bowdoin, which like many of his loves, he loved at first sight? Or that he became a Mainer, a place he loved so much he rarely left the state?
You knew him as “Mr. Earl,” DJ for many years at Fat Boy Sock Hops, Players basement dance club weekends, weddings and reunions. But did you know he sang beautifully and played acoustic and electric guitars? Or that he played in bands at McDonogh and with friends at Delta Sig fraternity at Bowdoin? Did you ever hear him say, “The Beatles were my first love but Dylan was my God!”?
Maybe he delivered the Times-Record to you in his turquoise Maverick or you met him skating like crazy on the ice rink by the gazebo on the Mall. Maybe you had him as a sub at Mt. Ararat. But you knew him because he was open to you. He shared his encyclopedic knowledge of music and literature. He asked you if you wanted to go to Popham or Graziano’s or listen to some music he’d recorded for you or just talk on the phone. He wanted to share his life—and yours.
Earl was a phenomenon we won’t see again.
Earl leaves his sisters, Patty and Terry, a brother Gary, many, many loyal friends, and a family of felines well cared for by his Bowdoinham community.