Amy Swain died October 15, 2103
“Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy.” Eskimo Proverb
On January 19, 1962, during the longest freezing spell Rapid City experienced that year, Ruth Ann Egan, with husband Ted waiting anxiously in the wings, welcomed their latest accident- a wrinkled and wry looking girl with a huge curl swirling from her precocious pate. Big brother Keith and older sister Beth had to wait five long days before they saw daddy’s black Bel-Air station wagon pull up to the little gray house at the tip-top of the cul-de-sac on Markay Place.
It was not long before Amy (Erin), became the center of attraction among her siblings’ friends. The constant adoration at “the wonder they had found” laid the groundwork for her life-long ability to become and hold the center of attention wherever she went. Much of it was due to the sheer exquisite adorableness that comes with infancy and childhood (Beth couldn’t ever resist kissing her soft, rosy cheeks). Most though could probably be attributed to the naughty little expression she usually carried on her countenance. You just knew she was up to something and if you went along for the ride you’d have a big adventure, get into serious trouble, or both. I’m sure many of her childhood friends and partners in crime – Katie and Patty Dwyer, Lindy Barnett, Tim Chandler, Lee Ann Norman, Mary Birdsong, Lori Stover, Patricia Cullum, Kim Verser, Carol Davis, Doris Clark, and her straight man, who lived vicariously through her, Frank Dudeck, and many others could fill a book with stories of Amy escapades.
Amy and her family first drove down Highway 25 and gawked with amazement at the beautiful lake and hills that surrounded the hamlet of Heber Springs, which would become the Egan’s “hometown” forever and ever. Many people don’t know, but Heber caused Ted to cease his peripatetic wandering all over the western U.S. as part of his employment in one of the largest construction companies in North America. Amy grew and thrived and made friends from even before she was in Mrs. Chandler’s preschool class all the way till she left Heber Springs after high school to make her own way in life. She wandered a bit through ASU and then UA Fayetteville where she shared a place with Mary Birdsong and upon moving in immediately realized that she would need a job to afford the tantalizing life-style an off-campus apartment offered. Bessie, who drove her little sister to Fayetteville, saw an ad in the campus underground newspaper for a kitchen worker at Rainbow Earth. Thus was the beginning to finding a path in life that Amy enjoyed, thrived in, and was great at. From there, the path lead to The Old Post Office and eventually, Amy did as many Heberites do and found herself making a home in the capital city. By this time, the girl who couldn’t cook a hamburger in high school, had honed her culinary skills until she became a chef extraordinaire at an extremely popular northern Italian eatery in North Little Rock. Amy, who was always amazed customers loved “the scraps I threw together from whatever was in the kitchen” humbly described herself as “I’m a cook, not a chef”. In reality, she ran the show – as you know – the center of attention - and in this role she hired a tall, flaming red-headed, devastatingly handsome, sweet, humble, kind, righteous, erudite, crazy funny man that she was able to use her devastating charm and plucky personality to win his heart. Much to big sisters great distress at missing such an important event, Jeff and Amy eloped to Hot Springs to jump the broom in a memorable ceremony with musical offerings by Pat Sajak and Vanna White as they spun the wheel. The one time she was supposed to be the center of attention, she contested the convention. Thus began an almost 18 year roller-coaster joy ride through the ups and downs of matrimony and wedded bliss. Jeff was welcomed and loved by the Egan family for the devotion and love he gave to Amy and for the happiness he brought to her. Amy was so lucky to be loved by him – and he to be loved by her.
Amy and Jeff set up household in a cozy little house in NLR and brought up three wonderful kitties together. Armani, which predeceased Amy and whose box of ashes now lovingly reside in Amy’s arms and D.J. and Jacque who wander from room to room now in search of their mama. Amy loved her kitties so much she bought a couch that matched their fur so they wouldn’t feel bad about shedding. Always the thoughtful one. Amy’s father, Ted, referred to them as his “grandkitties”. Besides her furry babies, her husband and his family, her daddy, her big brother and sister, Keesie, and Bessie, Keith’s wife Paula and Beth’s husband Medhat, she leaves behind her niece and nephew, Sarah and Michael Egan. Amy was very proud of their great scholastic and athletic achievements and that they grew up to be wonderful people. Amy and Sarah were identical in appearance as infants – as both were to Amy’s mom, Ruth Ann. Ann has waited for seven years to welcome a loved one home and no doubt they are chatting up a storm and raising a ruckus with Amy’s good friends who went before her – Steve, John, Tim, and Lindy.
Amy was the part of many statistics, born during the coldest January on record when the infant mortality rate was 6.1% and the life expectancy was 78.2 years. Unfortunately, 26 of the years due her were not meant to be for during the week of Oct 15, a new star was born in heaven when Amy became part of what the CDC lists as the fifth leading cause of death – accidents or unintentional injury of which the # 1 cause is just a simple word that brings heartache to so many – a “fall”. All so very unnecessary. Amy’s life meant so much to so many and Jeff and her family are sure she would want her passing to mean something also. If remembering her and the fact that her life potential was cut short and the ones she left behind are so lost without her helps you remember to be safe and think about potential dangers, then her life will have so much more meaning than it already does. For now, sweet Amy, we bid farewell till we are all together again in the room our Father has prepared for us at his side in heaven.
Funeral services were held Sunday, October 27, in the Olmstead Chapel at 2:00 p.m. Speakers were Paula Egan, Charlotte Lacy, Tobie Dwyer, Therese McFall, Frank Dudeck, and Debbie Robus. Interment was in the Heber Springs Cemetery. Keith Egan, Paula Egan, Beth Egan, Medhat El-Sabawy, Chris Askins, and Bob Barnett served as pallbearers.
Arrangements were by Olmstead Funeral Home. www.olmstead.cc