James Cataldus Swann Obituary (2022)

James “Jim” Cataldus Swann was born October 6, 1925 in Glymont, Charles County Maryland to Godfrey and Ruth Swann. He graduated from Pomonkey High School in Indian Head Class of 1943 and was drafted into the United States army in 1944 for active duty in World War II. He trained in Texas and Arizona as part of the 332 tank destroyer battalion and was sent to England on December 25th, 1944.

The 332 tank destroyers were disbanded while in England and James was reassigned to the 3739th Quartermaster truck corp, the famed Red Ball Express. Drafted as a Private, he achieved the rank of a technical Sergeant during his service and was a non-commissioned officer during his time in Europe. James was the recipient of the Good Conduct and Army Occupation Medals (Germany) European, and the African, Middle Eastern Theater and World War II Victory Ribbons.
James returned home to study under the GI Bill at Howard University in Washington, DC and worked in the post office, earning a Bachelor’s of Architecture in 1953, then moving to Philadelphia after marrying Alice Woodson in 1951.

They were original homesteaders in Concord Park – the country’s first intentionally integrated community – when they moved to suburban Trevose, PA where he helped construct the community playground. While working with Leon Sullivan and the Opportunities Industries Council (OIC) project he designed Progress Plaza, the nation’s first all black owned and operated shopping center as Director, President and General Manager of Progress Development Services Corp. He was also Assistant Director of Architecture for Philadelphia area Food Fair stores, a partner in Culbreath & Associates, a pioneering black firm, and while with Evantash and Friedman, designed the original King of Prussia Plaza Shopping Center.

His professional accomplishments include Morris Estates recreation center, Philadelphia International Visitor Center, Ocean One mall in Atlantic City, Larchmont and Barton Run homes by AP Orleans, Don Paparone South Jersey townhomes, Greystone Nursing Home in Mt. Airy, Savin Funeral Homes, shopping centers, a school and numerous other buildings. He was an American Institute of Architect (AIA) member, had active architectural registration in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland and achieved National Council Architectural Registration Board (NCARB).
“Jimmy” treasured fishing and boating – “Semaj”, “Bar-Jam”, “Seven Swans” and “Jem-Al” were among his beloved vessels, a hobby that spanned his lifetime starting with boats he trailed behind his car to ones that eventually indulged his cherished summertime marina lifestyle, dreading “dry dock” as Autumn neared.

He enjoyed holidays, winter cruises and vacation travel to the Caribbean Islands and Mexico and later volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and drove a bus for special needs kids after retirement. James was the third son and fourth child of 14 siblings now departed with Emogene, Helen, Ledru, Godfrey, Keith, Neale, Carter and Milton. He is survived by siblings Lillian Chatmon, Joyce Terry, Naomi Norde (Michael), Ruth Stanley (Howard) and Robert Swann (Kim); children Jennifer, Jeffrey (Loreen Liberty), Lauren, Michael (Emily Fleck) and James “Jay” from his former (33 year) marriage to the late Alice Woodson; grandchildren Eala Ose, Jeffrey and Allyson and dozens of nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held to honor Jim’s life and say last farewells on Sunday June 5, 2022 from 2 to 4 pm at the Salem Harbour Marina Clubhouse, Bensalem (Andalusia), PA.

Published by Legacy Remembers on May 19, 2022.