Stokes Clement Swisher

Swisher—Stokes Clement Swisher, 85, on January 31, 2016, at home with family, in Falls Church, Va. Clem was born on September 23, 1930, in Glenside, Pa., and earned a bachelor’s in physics from Guilford College. He moved to Washington, D.C., in 1955 to work as a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, receiving in 1984 a Department of Commerce Bronze Medal award for professional excellence.

A lifelong Quaker, Clem for six decades attended Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.), where he met Sue Colman Jones. They married in 1962 under the care of Wilton (Conn.) Meeting in Sue’s home town. He transferred his membership from Abington (Pa.) Meeting to Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.) in 1963, serving as treasurer, as clerk, and on many committees. He also served on Baltimore Yearly Meeting; as president of Friends Nonprofit Housing; as president of the Memorial Society of Metropolitan Washington; and as participant in the Senior Center, meeting with the Alzheimer’s group each week for many years.

After retiring from the Patent Office in 1985, he began providing service to the meeting as a handyman. In 1993, for example, a list of one line descriptions of work he had done numbered twenty pages. He listed and labeled the ancient electrical and plumbing systems and provided handyman help to meeting members in times of need. But his contributions to the meeting were not just physical. He participated in countless workshops and worship sharings, providing thoughtful (and often humorous) analysis in committees and meetings for worship with attention to business. He was especially concerned about racism—in particular, the cultural racism by which Friends unintentionally excluded people. In 1997, while a member of Overseers, he wrote a thoughtful letter to an African American attender who had felt rebuffed, asking for help in pointing out racially insensitive behavior. He came to meeting for worship almost every First Day for many years, even after age and ill health had taken their toll, putting forth his strongly held beliefs in a gentle manner. His analytical mind lent itself to deep issues as well as how to fix a cabinet in the meeting kitchen.

When asked what he wanted as an epitaph, Clem would say with his dry wit that he wanted to be remembered for raising two children neither of whom were wards of the state. His physical presence in meeting is missed, but his Light is remembered.

Clem is survived by his wife, Sue Colman Jones Swisher; two children, Carl Swisher and Janet Swisher; and three grandsons.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *