Royal Palm Beach Civic Leader David Swift Dies At Age 76

David Swift

David R. Swift, 76, a former longtime Royal Palm Beach councilman and civic leader, died unexpectedly on Thursday, Oct. 21. Swift held elected office in Royal Palm Beach longer than anyone else who has served on the Royal Palm Beach Village Council and was perennially popular among voters.

Swift and his wife Nixie became village residents in 1977. Following an appointed stint on the Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission, Swift ran for a council seat in 1985 during a period of rapid growth and development in what had previously been a small, fairly isolated bedroom community. Swift served on councils tasked with often difficult decisions regarding proposed development, rezoning and annexation applications, as well as enacting ordinances to enhance village landscaping, signage and code enforcement requirements.

During his near 29-year tenure on the council, Swift forged a solid and respected reputation as a clear-thinking public servant who clung to his convictions on behalf of his constituents. Many were the council meetings in which Swift noted he “had a problem” with some aspect of an agenda item under discussion, and he held to beliefs and votes he believed were in the best interests of village residents — even at times when he was the lone dissenting voice.

As a newly elected councilman in 1985, Swift began a citizen volunteer education committee whose goal was to bring a high school to Royal Palm Beach. That mission took more than a decade to achieve. He also pushed hard for and won enhanced recreational amenities for village youngsters and residents. Swift took particular pride in the hiring of the late David Farber to become village manager, who, until his untimely death in 2010, was widely regarded as a strong manager who ushered in an era of professionalism and strong fiscal standing for the village.

Among Swift’s accomplishments on the council were votes to approve transitioning the village’s police and fire departments to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, thereby not only saving money, but also enhancing public safety for residents through quicker response times and more sophisticated equipment and specialized manpower units. Swift voted to approve the sale of the village’s water utility and wastewater treatment plant to the county for a total of more than $100 million. With those sales, the village has enjoyed a low tax rate with millions of dollars in reserve.

A native of Michigan, Swift attended Hillsdale High School in Hillsdale, Mich., where he lettered in football, baseball, and track and field. He attended Michigan State University and Adrian College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in science, and later earned a master’s degree from Eastern Michigan University.

Swift worked for 34 years as a tenured senior biologist/environmental scientist for the South Florida Water Management District, and he was well-known among family, friends and colleagues as an avid sportsman and naturalist. He particularly enjoyed summers in the Florida Keys with his family.

Married for 53 years to his wife Nixie, Swift was predeceased by his parents Floyd and Carolyn Swift of Hillsdale, Mich., and by his brother Dick Swift of Tecumseh, Mich. Swift leaves his son James Swift (wife Calay) of Hilton Head, S.C.; daughter Caroline Gollub (husband Ian) of Norwich, Vt.; brother Jerry Swift of Winter Park, Fla.; stepbrother Charles Orth of Phoenix, Ariz.; and grandchildren Delcie and Andrew Swift of Hilton Head, S.C., and Parker and Georgia Gollub of Norwich, Vt.

A beloved public servant, Swift was a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend who strove throughout life to do what was right and to help those in need. He has left a sterling legacy as one who attained distinguished public service coupled with an unwavering commitment to his fellow man and the natural world. Swift will be sorely missed and lovingly remembered by his family, friends and former constituents.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the family plans no immediate memorial service but will at a later date announce a celebration of life in remembrance of David Swift.


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