Gary Swinyar

1949 - 

Gary Swinyar, band conductor and trumpet player, taught and served as an administrator in Seventh-day Adventist schools for forty years. During nearly half of those years he taught music full-time or while serving as a school administrator.

Swinyar was one of three children born to Shirley Stockton and Ted Swinyar. Although his parents' tastes in music differed, music was an important part of family life. His mother, a clarinetist, insisted that he and his brother and sister take music lessons and that they practice regularly. He chose to play the trumpet. When he was eight, the family moved from Arkansas to Tennessee, to live in Collegedale, near Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University.

Swinyar attended Little Creek Academy, a nearby self-supporting academy, where music was a predominant activity. While there, he studied trumpet with a teacher at the University of Tennessee and when he enrolled as a music major at SMC, continued with trumpet as his major instrument, studying under Jack McClarty. McClarty, band director at the college at that time, was both an inspiration and model for him as he studied and as he started teaching.

He taught music and flying and was boys' dean on a task force basis at LCA in the 1971-72 school year and then returned to SMC, where he met Carol Yvonne Adams, a multi-talented musician who was also majoring in music education. Following their graduation with degrees in music education in May 1973, they married and moved to Oregon, where he taught music at Laurelwood Academy.

Six years later, they moved to Florida, and he taught at Forest Lake Academy until 1986, when they moved to Alaska where he became principal at Anchorage Junior Academy. In 1990, they moved to the island of Kauai, Hawaii, where he served as principal for four years at the Kahili Adventist School before they returned to the mainland.

During these years Carol focused on being a mother to their two children and also taught as a freelance music teacher, gave private lessons in piano and voice, taught pre-school and kindergarten music classes, and conducted church children's choirs.

In 1994 Gary became the principal at Buena Vista Elementary School in Auburn, Washington, where for a short while he directed the advanced band and the handbell choir. In his seven years at BVES, he also directed a handbell choir at a nearby Lutheran church. During this time, Carol taught music in four Adventist schools in the Seattle-Tacoma area and in the public schools in Sumner, Washington.

In 2001, Gary became principal at the Ruth Murdoch Elementary School in Berrien Springs, Michigan, a position he held until 2004. During that time, Carol worked on an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction, completing it in 2004.

At that time, the Swinyars moved to South Lancaster, Massachusetts, where he became superintendent of education for the Southern New England Conference and she began working in the Thayer Performing Arts Center, a community music school associated with Atlantic Union College. She became its director in 2006. In 2011 they relocated to the Gulf States Conference, where he served as superintendent of education until his retirement in December 2013 and she as a volunteer in elementary schools as they traveled in the conference.  They now reside in Chino Valley, Arizona.


Sources: Emails, 11 November 2008 and 6 June 2010; and Biographical Information Sheets from Carol Swinyar, 25 November 2008 and February 11, 2010; other online sources. See Carol Adams Swinyar for additional information about her life and career.