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Oldest Connecticut State Trooper Dies At 99

Among myriad other community and civic achievements including years as a state legislator, Trooper John G. Swicklas of Uncasville, received the CSP highest award for bravery for his part in the shoot-out and capture of two bank robbers.

 

Born nearly a century ago to immigrant parents, John G. Swicklas’ most “heartfelt dream” was to be a Connecticut State Police Trooper. In 1942 he realized that dream. Last week, at the age of 99, John passed away, leaving a legacy that includes the distinction of being not just the oldest Connecticut State Trooper, but it is believed he was the oldest trooper in the country.

From Swicklas' obituary:

Swicklas, of 27 Greystone Drive, Uncasville, CT, left his earthly body July 7, 2012 at Greentree Manor, Waterford, CT, surrounded by much love, admiration, and spiritual and emotional support.

He was predeceased by his wife of 67 years, Helen K. (Guida) Swicklas. Born in Terryville, CT on April 29, 1913, John was the eldest son of the late George L. Swicklas and the late Rose (Martunas) Swicklas, both born in Lithuania, travelling the ocean to later meet here and marry.  Having been an outstanding athlete at Terryville High School, John received a basketball scholarship and attended University of New Hampshire. 

In 1942, he joined the CSP and at 99-plus, his was very proud of the distinction of being the oldest trooper.

Sgt. Swicklas retired in 1962 from the Canaan Troop, to best provide a college education at Villanova University for his son.  John had also served many years at the Litchfield Troop.  In 1950, Trooper Swicklas was awarded the CSP highest award for bravery for his part in the shoot-out and capture of two bank robbers who had robbed the Woodbury Bank and fled CSP pursuit to a dark forest, where they were chased on foot.  His citation read, “Not until he had to ask for the return of his handcuffs and for more ammunition did his full share of credit come to light.” A congratulatory letter ironically dated July 7, 1950, from then Gov. Chester Bowles stated, “You have performed an outstanding service to the people of Connecticut and your bravery in the face of extreme personal danger has not gone unnoticed.”

 Trooper Swicklas marched with the CSP Color Guard for many years as a flag bearer,  joking that they “followed the Governor’s Horse Guard which made for some interesting items dropped in our paths.” 

After his CSP retirement, John worked in insurance and real estate with a close friend and then followed in his footsteps as a Mayor (once known as First Selectman) of his hometown of Terryville/Plymouth.  He served on many town committees and commissions and was instrumental in the planning and realization of the town’s first industrial park where, in his honor, is located “Swicklas Court.”  He earned awards for his dedicated volunteer work and only resigned from the Commission in 2006 at age 93 when his beloved wife, Helen, became critically ill.  He then spent every day seated by her side, adoring her as for their 67-plus years of marriage. John was a devout Catholic always carrying a rosary in his pocket, even while in his CSP uniform.  John and Helen carried the gifts to the altar for Mass and were involved in much volunteer work as communicants of the Immaculate Conception Church, in Terryville.  John was a state legislator and worked diligently to assist Gov. Ella T. Grasso before and after her election.  

Everything he learned during those years at the state capital he utilized to assist his own community for the next 30 years.  Throughout all his years, there was always someone on the phone or at his kitchen table seeking advice, a staunch advocate or a trust-worthy friend – John could always be counted on; his integrity was legendary.  As one of his favorite sayings quipped: “Honest as the day is long, pure and holy as the driven snow, available for small jobs on the side.”

 

John is survived by and lived with his daughter Sharon Swicklas-Wilkie and son-in-law Glen A. Wilkie for the last five years; he is also survived by his son, John G. Swicklas Jr., of Terryville.  John was predeceased by his sister, Theresa C. Swicklas, and his younger brothers Bernard Swicklas and Adolf Swicklas, all of Terryville.  As a life-long animal lover, John leaves six furry grand-kidds: Charlie, Rudy, Solly, Slinky, Justie and Dora Lee Scarlett.  John also leaves behind the NY Yankees and his life-long devotion to cheering them on to World Series wins.  Donations may be made in his memory to CT State Police Alumni Association (CSPAA) or to their museum Fund (CSPAAMEC) at P.O. Box 1945, Meriden Connecticut 06450.

 

Services will be held Thursday, July 12 from 3:30 to 5:30 at Woyasz and Son at 11 Jerome Road, Uncasville CT 06382.  A reception will immediately follow at the Montville Polish Club, located across the street at 85 Maple Avenue, Uncasville.

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