Glenna Holmes Swank, 88, of Ocala, Florida, passed at her home on Thursday, August 2, 2018 following an illness, with her daughters at her side.
Glenna was born on June 11, 1930 in Reedsville, West Virginia to Hester Holmes and Glenn Holmes, Sr. The youngest of three children, she spent her childhood and attended public schools in Preston County, WV. Glenna’s first paying job was during her childhood, when she milked the family cow, strained the milk, bottled and delivered it to members of the Reedsville community, saving the bulk of her earnings in U.S. savings bonds. Glenna graduated from high school at age 16 and attended West Virginia University and Fairmont State College.
Glenna began her teaching career at age 19 on a provisional certificate at a one-room school in Cascades. In 1952, Glenna married Wilbur “Butch” Swank, who preceded her in death in 2013. They were married in New York City on the nationally televised show, “Bride and Groom” and honeymooned in Bermuda. The schoolchildren of Reedsville Elementary, where Glenna was then teaching, were excused home early from school in order to watch the wedding. The following year, Glenna accompanied Butch to his first teaching position in Oakland, Maryland, where they both taught in the public schools, then returned to Preston County to continue their careers and start a family.
Glenna continued her 35-year career in elementary education in the small towns of Reedsville, Capon Bridge, and Parsons, all in the West Virginia public school system. In 1965, Glenna was Preston County’s first Head Start teacher under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, providing early childhood education, nutrition, and parent involvement services to low-income children.
Glenna and Butch raised their three daughters with a love of education, sports, and the arts, and this ethos has been shared down through the generations in their family.
Physical fitness was a great joy to Glenna throughout her life. She was skilled in roller-skating in childhood and adulthood, studied tap and acrobatics under Virginia Chittum at the Virginia School of Dance in Morgantown, WV, and played high school and college basketball. Throughout her teaching career, she walked to and from school each day, regardless of the weather. Upon retiring in 1985 with her husband to On Top of the World in Ocala, Florida, Glenna was delighted to greatly expand her physical fitness to include golfing, bowling, a full Nautilus workout, aerobics, dancing, and walking five miles every day. She achieved Longest Drive during several Ladies Day golf tournaments. Glenna wrote a Ladies’ Golf column for several years for her retirement community’s newspaper, weaving her positive approach to life into her writings.
Glenna and Butch were avid card players and board game enthusiasts with their friends and family. Glenna loved many kinds of music, particularly big band and pop music, including the music of the Bee Gees, Michael Jackson, Adele, Meghan Trainor, and The Stray Birds, and she especially loved the movie soundtrack from “Eat, Pray, Love”. Glenna served as a poll worker for the Marion County Board of Elections, and was a member of Ocala West United Methodist Church. She continued her many activities at full speed until beginning to slow down in her early eighties.
Glenna is survived by her daughter, Debra Swank of Ocala, Florida; daughter Cynthia Blakley and husband Barry of Fredericksburg, Virginia; and daughter Tracy Judy and husband Levi of Elkins, West Virginia. Also surviving are beloved grandchildren, Tamara Denmark Bailey, Bambi Frazier, Shelley Powell, Carrie Moffitt, Adam Blakley, Jenna Blakley, Deena Heckler, and Scott Fox; and great-grandchildren Kyatt, Darby, Derek, Yazmin, Racquel, Serena, Frances, Oliver, Morgan, Elijah, Brent, Jase, Laken, and Freya. Glenna’s friend, Robert Woizeski, of Ocala, Florida, also survives. Her treasured and life-long friend from their days at Fairmont State College is Barbara Guerrieri of Easton, Connecticut.
Glenna is remembered for her great warmth, good humor, and kind, positive spirit. She is deeply missed by her family and friends.