Gloucester — Alphonse J. “Al” Swekla, 86, husband of Leanora “Lee” (DiMaria) (Lutz) Swekla, of Gloucester, passed away on Wednesday, January 30, 2013. Born in Nashua, N.H. on May 17, 1926, he was the son of the late Ambrose and Helena (Marcheonis) Swekla.
Al was a graduate of Nashua High School where he was a star football player and member of an undefeated team that won the state championship in 1942. He then served in the U.S. Navy during World War II aboard the USS Kleinsmith. After the war, Al attended the University of New Hampshire and graduated with the Class of 1948. While at UNH, he was again a standout football and baseball player. He would later be elected into the University’s Hall of Fame. In 1950, he received his master’s degree in education from Boston University and later his Science Certification from Tilton University.
He began his teaching career in North Brookfield, MA After receiving his master’s degree, Al secured a science teaching position in Gloucester at Central Grammar. In 1965, he became the first Assistant Principal at the school. In the fall of 1972, he opened the newly purchased Milton L. Fuller School and then moved on to open the Ralph B O’Maley Middle School in 1974. From there, Al served as Assistant Superintendent of schools from 1981-1985. He was appointed Superintendent of Schools in 1985. He held this position until his retire- ment in 1988 due to heart problems. Following his retirement he remained active in local education and served as interim principal in both Gloucester and at Rockport High School. Although formally retired, Al continued to provide leadership to the City of Gloucester. Positions he held included member and vice chairman of the School Committee along with several terms on the Gloucester City Council, including President. In total, Al committed almost 50 years of his life to the city with 39 years in the school system and 10 years in political positions.
Al was also instrumental in forming the Addison Gilbert Hospital Citizens Fund, where he served as President. He was also active on the World War II Committee. Al was a longtime member of the Gloucester AMVETS Post 32 and Gloucester Lodge of Elks.
As exemplified throughout his career, Al was firmly committed to giving of himself for the betterment of others. He strove to ensure the success of each student under his watchful care and took personal interest in the lives of countless young men and women. Al always had time to stop and talk or simply shout a greeting from across Main Street. He will truly be remembered for his kindness and “can do” attitude.
In addition to his beloved wife Lee, he is survived by his son, David Swekla and his wife Debbie of West Brookfield, his daughter Paula Mulcahey and husband J. Michael of Gloucester, his son George (Clint) Lutz and his wife Catherine (Lovasco) of Danvers, and his brother Joseph Swekla of Nashua, N.H. Al also leaves his loving grandchildren Jenna (Swekla) Ranks, Andrew and Nickolas Korman; Felicia, Clinton, and Alexis Lutz; John and Alex Kadim; Nikki, Mikayla and Tori Mulcahey. He also leaves two great grandchildren, Cameron and Madison Lutz.
Al is also survived by his sister in law, Grace Howard Benson; brother in law Joseph DiMaria and wife Sheila; a brother in law Frank Benson and many nieces and nephews.
Al was predeceased by his first wife, E. Jean Firth; In-laws Annabelle and Capt. Lemuel Firth; his sister in Law Rose Swekla and his In-laws Paul and Rose Dimaria.
“The highest form of wisdom is kindness” Talmud quote
ARRANGEMENTS: His funeral will convene at the Greely Funeral Home, 212 Washington Street, Gloucester on Monday, February 4th at 9:45 a.m. followed by a funeral mass at Holy Family Parish, St. Ann’s Church at 10:30 a.m. Family and friends are cordially invited to attend. Visiting hours will be held on Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at the funeral home. The burial will take place at Beechbrook Cemetery, West Gloucester.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Alphonse J. Swekla Scholarship Fund, c/o Cape Ann Savings Bank, 109 Main St., Gloucester, MA 01930, the Addison Citizens Fund, PO Box 1495, Gloucester, MA 01930 or the World War II Memorial Fund, PO Box 634, Gloucester, MA 01930.
For online condolences, please visit greelyfuneralhome.com.