Eleanor Kathleen Swierk
She Breathed Can-Do Optimism and a Sunny Practicality into Every Endeavor
Eleanor (Ellie) Kathleen (Blades) Swierk, 84, of Bluffton, South Carolina, died on Tuesday, July 27 at Coastal Carolina Hospital in Hardeeville, South Carolina, after a courageous three-year battle with Merkel cell carcinoma. Her husband of 31 years, Edward J. Swierk, was at her side.
She graduated from Revere High School in 1954; received her Bachelor of Science in Education from Boston State College in 1976, where she graduated summa cum laude with a Scholar of the College award; and earned a Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology at Boston College in 1980.
Ellie belonged to NOSSCR (National Association of Social Security Claimants’ Representatives) and NADE (National Association of Disability Examiners), for which she served as Boston chapter president in the 1980’s.
Ellie single-handedly raised six children in her beloved hometown of Winthrop, deftly negotiating household responsibilities, coursework that came with college enrollment in 1972, and work as a teacher at Castle Square Daycare Center in Boston, a work-study secretary at Boston State’s Physical Education Department, a camp counselor at Camp Columbus/Columbia in Boxford, and two summer appointments as a U.S. Customs inspector at Logan Airport.
Returning to school for a degree in the early 1970s, at age 36, Ellie reveled in the exhilaration of being a college student at the crest of the women’s liberation movement, darting from class to class on the former Boston State campus in the Boston Fens, so excited about what her best friend, Linda Roberts and she were embarking upon, truly blossoming!
Upon graduation from college, she became a reading specialist in Winthrop Public Schools, a social worker at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home, and a manager at the Mass. Rehabilitation Commission’s Disability Determination Services division, where she he met her second husband, Ed, whom she married in 1989.
Ellie and Ed took their Social Security disability expertise to Hilton Head Island (land of pralines, sweetgrass baskets and Frogmore stew!) that same year, formed “Swierk Associates,” an SSDI claimant consulting practice, and have lived there ever since, weaving a beautiful 30-year tapestry and helping hundreds upon hundreds of unfortunate souls facing serious illness find support and relief.
Although she transplanted herself to the beautiful South Carolina sea islands, Ellie maintained her fervent love of New England. She adored its beaches, Cape Cod breezes, Swan Boats, Harvard Square, the “Glass Flowers” of Harvard’s Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Red Sox and Jordan Marsh Muffins!
She delighted her children in their youth with road trips to Horseneck Beach and Lincoln Park amusements in Southeastern, Mass., camping and climbing Mount Monadnock, movies, theatre and so much more! She loved her three grandchildren, and she was so excited at the prospect of a great-grandchild, her first, a boy, due on Christmas Day 2021!
She and Ed — her husband, friend and colleague of 40 years — traveled extensively to numerous Social Security disability conferences and sporting events throughout the United States, making scores of personal and professional friends along the way.
She read voraciously, savoring mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction and good old-fashioned beach reads.
She also introduced her children to beloved Southern authors Dorothea Benton Frank, Mary Kay Andrews and of course, Pat Conroy, igniting a deep appreciation of South Carolina Lowcountry magic.
The rare and aggressive Merkel cell cancer, coupled with a 20-year struggle with the auto-immune disease polymyositis, didn’t stop Ellie from being in the world as actively as ever. She breathed can-do optimism and a sunny practicality into every endeavor. With walker and wheelchair in her final years, she embraced friends, family and a grand array of activities until her very last breath in this world.
Indeed, in what would turn out to be the final year of her life, birthdays and holidays with family surrounding and enfolding her at home, created cinematic memories she knew would breath forever.
Christmas 2020 at Ellie’s, many dozens of her beloved collectible “carolers” figurines silently serenading us, her home decorated to her exquisite standards, and the bright light in her eyes a beacon of hope and love, will absolutely stay in our hearts forever.
Besides her loving husband, Edward J. Swierk, of Bluffton, SC, Eleanor leaves her four cherished children: her son, Mark T. Pimentel of Bedford, NH; her son, William M. Pimentel and his partner, Michael J. O’Rourke, of Winthrop, her daughter, Virginia M. Flockton and her husband, Ronald T. Flockton, of Carver, and her daughter, Barbara E. Pimentel and her fiancé, John A. Teixeira, of Winthrop. She also leaves precious grandchildren: Lauren A. Robillard and her husband, Daniel R. Robillard Jr., of Portsmouth, RI, Daniel J. Flockton of Carver and Hannah A. Pimentel of New Hampton, NH and her dear sister, Frances M. Donovan of Fairlawn, OH and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends, especially Dr. Marilyn Schimenti, Phyllis Beane and Elaine “Honey” Dillon.
She was predeceased by her parents: Frank W. Blades and Helen F. (Gross) Blades; her son, John E. Pimentel; her daughter, Joanne K. (Pimentel) Garlock; her sister Virginia M. (Blades) Simonalle and her first husband, Leon L. Pimentel.
A visitation and service for relatives and friends in South Carolina was held on Wednesday, August 4 at Sauls Funeral Home in Bluffton, South Carolina. www.saulsfh.com/
Her funeral will be held at the Maurice W. Kirby Funeral Home, 210 Winthrop St., Winthrop on Saturday, August 14 at 8:30 a.m. followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Michael the Archangel Parish (formerly St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church), Winthrop at 10 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited. Interment will be in the Cross Street section of Winthrop Cemetery. For guestbook, visit www.mauricekirbyfh.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Eleanor’s name can be made to Merkel cell carcinoma research at the University of Washington Foundation, Box 359505, Seattle, WA 98195. Gifts can be made online at https://merkelcell.org/join-the-fight/donate/ or by check payable to “UW Foundation / MCC Research.”
Retired Winthrop Water Department Clerk
Dolores A. Hickey of Winthrop passed away at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on August 8. She was 86 years old.
Born in Malden. the beloved daughter of the late Helen (Clark) and John Gerrin, she was a graduate of Malden High School and has resided in Winthrop for over 58 years. Prior to her retirement, she worked as a clerk for the Winthrop Water Department.
She was the devoted wife of the late Arthur G. Hickey and the loving mother of Arthur Hickey and his companion, Majda of Revere, Timothy Hickey and his wife, Julie of Truro, Dennis Hickey and his wife, Debbie of Revere, Michael Hickey and his wife, Stacie and Daniel Hickey and his wife, Renee, all of Winthrop. She is also survived by nine grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Family and friends are cordially invited to attend the visitation from the Caggiano-O’Maley-Frazier Funeral Home, 147 Winthrop St., Winthrop today, Thursday, August 12 from 4 to 8 p.m. The funeral will be conducted from the funeral home on Friday, August 13 at 9 a.m. followed by a Funeral Mass in St. John the Evangelist Church, 320 Winthrop St., Winthrop at 10 a.m. Services will conclude with the interment in the Belle Isle section of Winthrop Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be to the St. Michael the Archangel Parish, 320 Winthrop St., Winthrop 02152 Attn: Statue Fund.
For directions or to sign the online guestbook, go to www.caggianofuneralhome.com.
Federal Reserve Bank Retiree
Margaret B. (O’Neill) Tebeau, 76, of Winthrop (formerly of Charlestown), passed away on August 5.
Margaret was the beloved wife of 31 years to Robert N. Tebeau and the cherished daughter of the late Charles P. O’Neill, Sr. and Bridget O’Neill; the dear sister of Mary Siriani and her late husband, Kenneth of Winthrop, her twin sisters, Elizabeth Dulong and her husband, Dennis of Salem and Cecilia Norris and her husband, John of Billerica, James O’Neill of Boston and the late Charles P. O’Neill, Jr. and Patrick O’Neill. Peggy is also survived by several nieces and nephews and she always took great joy in following their accomplishments, aspirations and important life events. She loved to travel, visiting many countries in Europe including England, Italy and her beloved Ireland (Donegal).
Prior to her retirement, Peggy was employed for 35 years by The Federal Reserve Bank at the South Station location.
A Funeral Mass was held on Monday, August 9 in St. Michael the Archangel Parish (formerly St. John the Evangelist Church)-Winthrop and private interment followed at Holy Cross Cemetery, Malden.
The family would like to express sincere appreciation to Care Dimensions for their incredible support and services.
Contributions in Peggy’s memory may be made to Care Dimensions, 75 Sylvan Street, Suite B-102, Danvers, MA 01923 or online donations at www.CareDimensions.org.
Funeral arrangements were from the Maurice W. Kirby Funeral Home, 210 Winthrop St., Winthrop. To sign Peggy’s guestbook, please visit: www.mauricekirbyfh.com.