Richard Allen Swayze, 70, worked on JFK funeral TV transmission

Posted: November 06, 2012

IT WAS AMONG the grimmest days in American history. The three-day funeral of President John F. Kennedy in Washington in November 1963 drew millions on the procession route and millions more watching on TV.

Just about the entire country tuned in for the somber event.

And one of the technicians who made it possible for the nation to follow the proceedings was Richard Allen Swayze.

He was working for WTOP in Washington at the time, and his perch atop the Lincoln Memorial gave him an unimpeded view of the funeral procession with the horse-drawn caisson bearing the body of the assassinated president, followed by the prancing unsaddled horse, Black Jack, on the way to Arlington National Cemetery.

Richard Allen Swayze, who later worked as a transmitter-technician for WCAU-TV for more than 40 years, an avid amateur-radio operator, civic leader and Army veteran, died Oct. 31 of cancer. He was 70 and lived in Phoenixville.

Most recently, Richard served as property manager for the St. James School, the city's first Episcopal middle school for low-income children, in North Philadelphia.

The school opened last September with the help of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania and private donors. And Richard Swayze was there from the start.

His wife, the Rev. Marie Zealor Swayze, is the founding school chaplain.

The school said the Swayzes "provided thousands of hours and led hundreds of volunteers in service to the young people attending City Camp, Camp St. James and St. James School.

"When St. James School opened the doors in 2011, Richard became our property manager and became a constant and friendly face of our new school."

Richard Swayze was born in Bryn Mawr to William and Betty Swayze. He grew up in the Westgate Hills section of Haverford Township. While attending Haverford High School, he developed a passion for radios, electronics and engineering. He ran the school radio station before graduating in 1961.

He spent two years in the Army as a military policeman and broadcast technician. He was discharged in 1963 and went to work for WTOP.

He married Marie Zealor in 1971.

Richard's ham-radio call sign was K3ECV. He was a member of the Philadelphia Area Repeater Association, a ham-radio organization.

He was active in numerous charitable groups, including the Clinic of Phoenixville, which provides medical care to the uninsured, and St. Mark's Church.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, David and Andrew, and a sister, Carol.

Services: Were Saturday. Donations in his name may be made to St. Mark's Church, 1625 Locust St., Philadelphia, 19103, or St. James School, 3217 W. Clearfield St., Philadelphia, 19132.

Contact John F. Morrison at or 215-854-5573.

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