West Texas lost another treasure with the passing of Ross McSwain, noted columnist and author. Ross loved the written word, so much so, he taught noncredit writing classes at Angelo State University and served as President of the San Angelo Writer's Club.
Between teaching, the newspaper and writer's club, Ross mentored many writers. I met Ross in 2005 when I took his Folklore class through ASU.
Also, I had the honor and privilege of serving under Ross, as Vice President of Programs for the Writer's club. From our interactions, I offer a few of Ross' written words.
Ross had a unique way of closing a number of his e-mails:
See you tomorrow night, provided the creek don't rise or we get a two foot snowfall. Regards, Ross McSwainOn technology:
God willing and the dam don't break, I'll be there.
I got a call from a guy this evening wanting to come and tell us about his online writers group, but we got cut off and he has not called me back. I hope he doesn't think I hung up on him, because I was in the middle of a sentence about the club. I think he was using a cell phone. I detest those damn things - another good subject matter to discuss. The pros and cons of using telecommunications equipment. See you tomorrow evening if everything goes well. Ross
On outsourcing news writing to India (a CNN story):
I hate to see such garbage as this start, or be publicized. Others will be doing it to save money and scripps is among the worst for having bean counters. I hate to think what the future will be with big business running the government and still making money by hiring the cheapest. As you know we sent men to the moon on an outfit built by the lowest bidder. Cheers, Ross
On nominations for Writer's Club President in an October 23, 2008 e-mail:
I have not heard back from (possible candidate). They have a farm place in Comanche County and may be over there. Do you have any other ideas for the presidency (besides McCain or Obama)? Ross
Ross is survived by his wife Jean. In October 2007 Romance writer Ken Casper spoke to the club. Ross had a conflict and couldn't be there.
I have a favor to ask. I have to be out of town that day on a trip with my wife and I don't expect to be back in time for the meeting. Would you please chair for me and give my apologies to Ken for not being there? I would appreciate it very much. My bride and I don't get to travel much together, so I am taking this opportunity to go with her to Brownwood for an all-day event. Thanks, Ross McSwain
Ross expertly wrote about Texas Politics and Greed. In my estimation it's a particularly bad time to lose someone with investigative reporting skills.
On Saturday, August 22, 2009 Ross e-mailed with the sad news of Elmer Kelton's death. I returned the favor March 14, 2011, informing Ross of the passing of Dr. Preston Darby. Nearly a year to the day later, Dr. Ralph Chase died on March 16, 2012. Now we lose Ross McSwain.
San Angelo's treasures live in our memories, in the stories we tell. Ross would call that folklore. He'd want us to record stories, so we don't lose history.
God bless Ross McSwain, his family and loved ones. Another great man is gone.
Update 11-8-12: Rick Smith ran a column with Ross' thoughts for the ages.