She had a natural curiosity, and loved meeting new people and finding out about them, they said. In turn, she helped them integrate into the city, as well.
“She was just one of those great community folks you looked to to show you the way,” said daughter-in-law Dianne Swilling of Norcross.
Two years ago, her children persuaded her to move into a condo. She agreed, as long as she could stay in Chamblee. She would not move away from the city, her children said.
Ann Swilling, 83, died Thursday from a torn aorta. She was at her home, surrounded by her children. A memorial service will be Monday at 11 a.m. at H.M. Patterson & Son Oglethorpe Hill Chapel, with visitation at 10 a.m. H.M. Patterson & Son is in charge of arrangements.
Mrs. Swilling grew up in the Grant Park area of southeast Atlanta. She met her late husband, Charles Wesley Swilling Sr., in Atlanta. He was in the U.S. Navy, and they married in 1945 after he completed his military duty.
Their early years were spent on the move because of Mr. Swilling’s job as a pharmaceutical salesman. In 1956, they settled at Keswick Drive and stayed there.
Mrs. Swilling, who loved to garden, was well-known for her backyard. Every spring, people would come by the house and ask to take a tour through the yard to see the azaleas in full bloom, Craig Swilling said.
“It was better than any botanical garden,” Dianne Swilling said.
During the 1950s and ’60s, Mrs. Swilling and her daughter Beth Hodges were involved with the Atlanta Children’s Theatre. At the time, it was one of the few theatrical groups of its kind, and children came from all over the metro area to participate. Mrs. Swilling served as president and was a principal fundraiser for the group.
“Mom was always able to pull people together from all walks of life,” Mrs. Hodges said.
Her love for people and heart for helping made her an ideal fundraiser, said her children.
Mrs. Swilling raised money for the Georgia Special Olympics, working closely with the Chamblee Police Department. And she was active in and raised money for the Spina Bifida Association because her son, Craig, has the birth defect.
“She’s always been there for me,” he said. “I’m in a wheelchair and she’s been taking care of me for 49 years.”
Other survivors include sons Charles Swilling of Norcross, and Jeff Swilling of Suwanee; eight grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.