Emil Michael (Mike) Swanda, Jr., 86, of Cozad, Nebraska died on December 31st, 2013, after a short illness.
Mike was a man of strong faith, a devoted husband to his wife Donna of 62 years and a caring father and grandfather.
Mike was born in Schulyer, Nebraska, on June 3rd, 1927, to Emil and Pauline Swanda. He met Donna, the love of his life, while working in Central City, Nebraska and they were married on May 13th, 1951. They had three children, Vicki, Rex and Leslie.
He was a proud Navy veteran (Pharmacist Mate) who served in WWII and had a long history of community service and charitable endeavors.
After the war, he attended the University of Nebraska and began his professional life as a pharmacist. He worked in pharmacies in Central City, David City, Nebraska and Wilbur, Nebraska, from 1951 until 1955 before he moved to Cozad and owned and operated Swanda Pharmacy and then S & S Pharmacy until 1979. During the time he owned the pharmacy he also served on the Nebraska Board of Pharmacy and was President of the Nebraska Pharmacist Association in 1969/1970.
From 1960 until 1966 Mike served on the Cozad Board of Education and was its President in 1966. He was President of the Cozad Chamber of Commerce and was involved in many other Cozad based nonprofit charitable organizations.
In 1980 Mike began a second career with Nebraska Health and Human Services as a pharmacy inspector and investigator covering essentially the western two thirds of Nebraska. He retired from this position after 32 years of continuous full-time service at the age of 85 on July 31st, 2012.
In June of 2013, Mike was honored and humbled by the National Association of the Boards of Pharmacy with the John F. Atkinson Award for exceptional contributions to the NABP and protecting the public health.
He was a member of the United Methodist Church, the Mason Lodge and the American Legion for over 60 years and was a member of the B.P.O. Elks, the Tehama Shrine Temple and the Scottish Rite for over 45 years. Mike was always available to those in need. He and Donna were foster parents for several children and teens at various times, they hosted foreign exchange students and he enjoyed mentoring local teens.
In the last few years he assisted several families as a secret Santa, established a significant college scholarship fund at the Cozad Public Schools Foundation for Cozad area students and assisted the Kids of the Kingdom after school program at Cozad United Methodist Church. Mike also liked to make ice cream.
For the last several years he made and sold ice cream to raise money for his church and also delivered it to shut ins and others - just because.
He is survived by Donna, Vicki and John Miles of Lincoln, Nebraska, Dr. Rex Swanda of Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dr. Leslie and Steve Willey of Columbia, Missouri; his grandchildren Jamison and Nicholas Miles and his sister Beth Lahr of Hastings, Nebraska.
Memorial services will be held Saturday, January 4th, 2014, at 5 p.m. at Cozad United Methodist Church with Pastor Doug Smith officiating.
A private family burial with military honors will be held prior to the service at Fort McPherson National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorials are suggested to the Mike and Donna Swanda Scholarship Fund at the Cozad Public Schools Foundation in his memory.
Condolences may be shared at berrymanfuneralhome.com.