Jerry D. Swallows of Baxter, TN passed at St. Thomas after fighting an extended illness with the help of his devoted wife of 57 years, Linda (Nash) Swallows. He is survived by daughters Lisa (m. David Uhrik) and Karen (m. Shane Allen), along with their children and grandchildren and was preceded in death by parents Carl and Marie (Austin) Swallows and sister Janice (m. Gene Hutchings).

After graduating with a degree in Math from Tennessee Technological University, he served his country in the Army in Vietnam where he listened in a field to the first superbowl in 1967 and received a picture of his first child before returning home to a thankful wife and family many months later.

He was a manufacturing leader in the boot-making and apparel industries for many years where he is remembered affectionately by coworkers for his fairness, consistency and success in creating efficient production systems. His daughters remember fondly the smell of leather and the factory floors they visited growing up. With NAFTA and movement of the apparel industry, he and the family moved to Hendersonville and Dickson, TN before returning home to Cookeville and ultimately realizing his long-held dream of living on a farm in Baxter, TN in 2000.

Though he battled cancer for three years, this final battle was unexpected and his last words to the doctor --- after bragging about his beautiful wife and saying I love you to Linda - were “I’m hungry…” He said he couldn’t wait to finish the procedure so that he could get something to eat. And those words seem appropriate, as Jerry was a hungry man. He had an appetite for life that matched the clever passions of his working Australian Shepherds.

He woke hungry for accomplishment that he could see and measure in beauty, maintenance and responsible care for his beloved farm and home with its cattle, horses and - a few times over the years - puppies. He relished the knowledge that the horses he bred were enriching lives across the country, that the puppies he cultivated from his working Aussie partners were delighting families and spreading awareness of this smart, working breed. He was hungry for explorations, political conversation and personal influence, healthy gardens, dancing and the beautiful sunrises and sunsets he could see from his home. And he was hungry for family meals, regularly acting as “sous chef” for Linda and following his mother’s dedication to creating large meals.
An athlete in heart, mind and body, he was hungry for the competition and followed many sports. He was especially devoted to football, where he knew every player’s history and was able to appreciate their strategic and nuanced victories on the field. An ardent supporter of the Upperman Bees, he and Linda traveled often to enjoy their basketball wins and challenges in person, where he leant his booming voice in support.
Most dear was his lifetime connection with cherished cousins and Upperman classmates. He looked forward to their regular lunches and annual dinners and particularly enjoyed (with private anxiety) being called on to act as MC at events and telling a good joke or three.

Breeding and cultivating Tennessee Walking Horses, he also found community in trainers and friends who shared this love, including his daughter Karen who he enjoyed watching with pride after a few years in the ring himself.

Jerry was a man of physical strength, certainty, responsibility, and command. Highly organized and hard-working, he and Linda worked together daily to create beautiful landscapes, gardens and the gracious home they enjoyed sharing, particularly around delicious meals. A capable builder, he was proud of having built his barns by himself and of having guided the building of multiple homes and remodels over the years. He wasted nothing and celebrated re-use, care and conservation of things.

He studied farm management and enjoyed leadership and association with the local Cattleman’s association. While most of his life he suffered back and joint pain, on any given day he accomplished physically more than men half his age. He (and Linda) worked the herd of 60-80 Angus and cared for the 10-14 horses themselves until his health made it impossible in 2020.

He loved his grandchildren from Karen and Shane Allen (Evan (m. Mary Hawkins), Claire (m. Ian Bass), Paul and Samuel and the blended families from Lisa and Dave Uhrik (from Uhrik: Dawn (m. Warren Paton), Kelly (m. Kevin Fehr), David (m. Megan Candido); from Norris: Ward (m.Amy Bean), Marshall (m. Nissa Lindell), Luke, and Jessica (m. Jared Fletcher) along with grandchildren Emily and William Paton, Jordan, Madison and Mackenzie Fehr, Lily Uhrik, Edward, Emily, Esther and Emmet Norris, Corbin and Elan Norris, and Jon and Joe Fletcher.

He wanted nothing so much as helping the next generations succeed and his big voice and bigger life presence created strong foundations for all who knew him. His fixed positions served as practical and emotional pillars around which others could push and build and he was as ready with a concrete block to give as he was with a thought about how to best use that carefully rescued and saved block.

In his health struggles of the past years, his biggest battle was perhaps an emotional one with the loss of physical strength. But in that loss, he found spiritual strength and urgency in sharing God’s love and the message of salvation. He looked forward to reuniting with his family and pets that had gone before and to enjoying the ‘green, green grasses of home’ in heaven, where he hopes to see all of us around a great big table.

Visitation will be from 12 to 2 PM Sunday, February 27 with services to follow at 2 PM at the Baxter Chapel of Hooper Huddleston Horner Funeral Home. Interment with military honors by the Veterans Honor Guard will follow in Odd Fellows Cemetery. Bro. Mark Gaw will officiate. In lieu of flowers, donations to the Washington Avenue Baptist Church would honor his faith and deep appreciation of his church’s prayers and work.
Family and friends will serve as pallbearers.