Basil Owen Sweatt, Sr., passed from this life December 12, 2017, in Fayette AL. He would want to be remembered as a servant of God and as a neighbor to others.
He was born in Floral City, Florida, June 26, 1923, to Basil Gaither and Bessie Clements Sweatt. His siblings now deceased were his brothers Roy, Julian, and Melvin, and his sister Anne Cooley. He was also preceded in death by his wives-Melba Zellner Sweatt (1954) and Doris Bankston Sweatt (2009).
He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law Owen Sweatt, Jr., and Lana (Fayette AL), their two sons’ families--David and Flori (Florence AL) and Brian and Brandy (Tuscaloosa AL); and by his daughter Arnelle Adcock (Franklin TN) and her son’s family-Matthew (Dawn) Adcock (Birmingham and Montgomery AL). His great grandchildren are Jackson and Carter Adcock (Montgomery AL), Sam and Eli Sweatt (Florence AL) and Alaina, Kale, and Cole Sweatt (Tuscaloosa AL).
Surviving in the Bankston family are his sisters-in-law Brenda (Bolivar LA), Eula (Covington LA), and Helen (Bolivar LA), and his brother-in-law Hollis (Roseland LA). Surviving in the Zellner family is his brother-in-law John Zellner, Sr. (Floral City FL). Owen cherished his relationships with his cousins, nieces, and nephews in the Sweatt, Zellner, and Bankston families.
After high school, Owen was drafted and was assigned to the Army Air Corps. He flew 35 combat missions and served as a radio operator/machine gunner on a B-17 bomber with the 390th Bomber Group based in England. His second mission was on D Day, June 6, 1944. In addition to other recognitions, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement in flight.
A veteran of WWII, Owen began civilian life as a dispatcher for the Atlantic Coastline Railroad. By working the midnight shift and with the aid of the GI Bill, he was able to earn his college degree in business at Florida Southern College (Lakeland FL) in 1953. In 1954 he began thinking about college teaching which led to his earning his master’s degree in business education at Peabody College (Nashville TN) in 1955. He earned an Ed.D. at Indiana University (Bloomington), graduating in 1960.
Owen’s teaching career spanned 30 years at Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond LA, where he served in teaching positions, as department head, and as the first Dean of the College of Business. He held leadership positions (including president) in the Louisiana Business Education Association, Southern Business Education, and the National Business Education Association.
In addition to their teaching careers, Owen and Doris used their 55 years in Hammond serving the congregation of the Westchurch Church of Christ (where Owen was an elder) and assisting with the Bankston family dairy.
Owen was a 50-year member of the Hammond Kiwanis Club. He was elected president and lieutenant governor, served on the board and served for 20 years as treasurer and newsletter editor, and represented the local chapter at the national convention on several occasions. He was a George Hixson Fellow, a recipient of the River of Life Award, and recognition as a 50-year member of the Hammond Kiwanis Club.
After Owen and Doris retired from teaching in1983, they spent the next three decades caring for family members during illness or declining health, volunteering at the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, and working with the AARP Tax-Aide Program preparing tax returns for seniors.
From his teen years, Owen was self-taught on stringed instruments playing with his brothers on the back porch. After retirement, he bought an organ as an aid for composing songs. He enjoyed playing fiddle with “The Ready Brothers” and other groups who performed for civic and senior groups throughout the parish. Owen and Doris enjoyed traveling with musician friends to Mountain View Arkansas to participate in festivities there.
As a writer, Owen contributed letters and articles to education publications, opinion pages in area newspapers, and religious magazines. He delighted in writing humorous poetry and skits for family and friends. However, he was most satisfied with the lyrics and music he composed for hymns.
In 2012 Owen decided to move to Fayette AL, residing at Morningview Estates, an assisted living family, where he was an active resident and received loving care.
The celebration of life for Owen will be Saturday, December 16, 2017, at 11:00 am, at Harry McKneely & Son Funeral Home, 2000 North Morrison Blvd., Hammond LA. Visitation will be from 9:30 am until the service at 11:00 am. Interment will follow at Parklawn Memorial Gardens in Hammond LA.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Basil Owen Sweatt College of Business Alumni Chapter Endowed Scholarship for students majoring in business at Southeastern Louisiana University (Fund #2200) or to The Basil Owen Sweatt Leadership Medal for meritorious leadership in the College of Business. The address for contributions to the scholarship or medal award is Southeastern Foundation, SLU 10293, Hammond LA 70402. (Please specify the fund to which you are contributing.)
Contributions also may be made to the Hammond Kiwanis Club Happy Packs Program, PO Box 2944, Hammond LA 70404. This program provides 10 food items every week to 120 children in Hammond.
Owen counted himself blessed, and his greatest treasures were his families and his friends.
An on-line guest book is available at www.harrymckneely.com.