Sept. 22, 1924 – Aug. 10, 2012
Jean S. Swenson, a music teacher and choir director in Lockport who was instrumental in organizing the Handbell Choir at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Buffalo, died Aug. 10 in Elizabeth City, N.C., after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease. She was 87.
A native of Buffalo, the former Jean Shaw attended South Park High School and earned a master’s degree in music education from Fredonia State College.
Mrs. Swenson helped to form the Handbell Choir at Westminster in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and she sang in the choir there. She also toured with the Westminster choir.
She lived in Buffalo until 1959, when she moved to Lockport to become a teacher of vocal music in the public elementary schools there.
She also filled in as a leader of school bands and string musicians in Lockport, where some of her former students credited her with being a mentor who inspired them to begin careers or avocations in music.
Mrs. Swenson began playing the piano at an early age, often accompanying other musicians.
She was the choir director at First Presbyterian Church in Lockport in the late 1970s and early 1980s before she moved back to Buffalo in the mid-1980s. She retired to the South in 1994.
Her husband of 65 years, Eugene D., was president of the Lockport Savings & Loan Association, which later became part of the Niagara Permanent Savings & Loan Association.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by two daughters, Leslie Reifel and Martha Burbeck.
A memorial service will be at 4 p.m. Oct. 27 in Westminster Presbyterian Church, 724 Delaware Ave.