Former resident Swalm recalled for generosity

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Engineer, entrepreneur, philanthropist and former Brookhavenresident Dave C. Swalm died Monday night. He was a resident of NewUlm, Texas.

Swalm, who was a Brookhaven High School graduate, was best knownfor his love for Brookhaven and his alma mater, Mississippi StateUniversity, which he combined in 2005 to establish a scholarshipfund for Brookhaven students looking to attend MSU.

Swalm’s $5 million gift to MSU provided 25 annual $2,500scholarships to Brookhaven High School and Brookhaven AcademyStudents who qualify with a 3.0 minimum GPA and plan to pursue atechnical degree at MSU.

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Brookhaven High School Principal Susan Chapman said Swalm’sgenerosity has touched her personally in addition to as a schooladministrator. Both her son and daughter-in-law were Swalm scholarsat Mississippi State through the years.

She said she was always amazed, also, at Swalm’s kindness inperson.

“I’ve never met a nicer human being,” she said. “To be aswealthy as he apparently was, and as generous, he was just aregular guy who was very interested in BHS students and furtheringtheir education.”

Chapman said Swalm will long be remembered by the BHSfamily.

“He leaves a legacy of every child who’s already gotten thescholarship and was able to start at MSU, at a four-yearuniversity,” she said. “And for many of them, that will get them ontheir way to get wonderful jobs in every kind of engineering.”

Dr. Miller Hammill said Brookhaven Academy will long rememberSwalm because of his concern for the future of its students. Heexpressed the school’s deepest sympathies to Swalm’s family.

“We’re very appreciative of what he has done for BrookhavenAcademy students in providing scholarships to MSU,” he said. “Thishas allowed many of our students to go to MSU that otherwisecouldn’t have gone, and his legacy will live on at BA for manyyears because of his concern for our young people.”

Swalm was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree at MSU in2000, and his generosity funded the 100,000 square feet Dave C.Swalm Chemical Engineering School at his alma mater.

In addition to his donations to MSU, Swalm provided more than$130 million in support of programs for early childhood education,victims of child abuse and survivors of domestic violence throughhis Swalm Foundation, which was created in 1988.

After working for Dow Chemical, Texas Butadiene, and the SteuberCo., Swalm founded his own company, Texas Olefins, in 1968 usinghis entire savings at the time of $6,000. It became the largestbutadiene manufacturer in the United states by 1996, at which pointhe sold the company for $500 million.

Past Swalm Scholarship Committee member Gary Blair said hebelieves Swalm’s legacy will continue through those he influencedby his generosity.

“He’s going to be greatly missed because of what he’s meant toBrookhaven and Mississippi State. But he will continue to live onin these young people that have received his scholarships,” Blairsaid. “His legacy is to have these young people be able to receivea good, high-quality degree, then come back to Brookhaven andsettle and live here, which Mr. Swalm was never able to do.”

Swalm was Mississippi State’s Alumnus of the Year in 1992. Inthe 1997 regular session of the Mississippi Legislature, aconcurrent resolution was drafted in honor of his generous supportof MSU.

Funeral services are Thursday at 3 p.m. at Memorial Oak FuneralHome in Houston.