Portville Hall of Fame
Lynford Swetland was born in Olean, N.Y. on November 10, 1934, the second
of three children born to Ed and Doris Swetland. He attended Portville schools
from Kindergarten through 12th grade, graduating in the class of 1952. It was
in school that he was given the nickname “Wimp” or “Wimpy”. His school
years were noted by participation in football, basketball and baseball. He also
spent two years as a member of the school chorus. He was the American
Legion Award recipient in 1951.
After High School graduation, he went to work at the former Anderson Pattern
Works. He worked there until 1957 when he was drafted for service into the
United States Army. He served in the Army from 1957-1959 at Fort Knox in
Louisville, Kentucky and at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Denver, Colorado.
Two things during this time (beyond service to his country) would foretell of
his future. First, he first became actively involved in and interested in young
people by coaching youth basketball for the US Army at the Rocky Mtn.
Arsenal. Second, it was also in Denver that he met his first wife Shirley
When he was discharged from the Army, he returned to Portville, where he
went back to Anderson Pattern Works. On October 9, 1959, he and Shirley
were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Portville. He and Shirley had
three children, a son Jeffrey, born in 1960, Gary, born in 1961, and a son
Matthew, born in 1972.
It was in the 1960’s that his interest in young people re-emerged. He was an
unofficial supporter of Portville football coaches Jim Steinbacher and Bob
Connell, Rick Wilson, Kevin Curran and his own son, Gary Swetland as well as
all of their players. For years, he has been a fixture at High School athletic
events and more importantly, a supporter of any young man willing to go the
extra mile in preparation for competition of any kind.
The 1970’s saw a great deal of change in his life. It was at this time Esther
Mikolojczyk-Williams came into his life. Somehow the two of them found a
way to overcome more than most of us ever have to and in the process build a
family structure that has both grown and survived a long, long time. They
were married April 18, 1980. All told, he and Esther have made significant
contributions to the graduation of eight kids from Portville Central School and
the two of them claim 37 grandchildren as their own.
There is really no accurate gauge for how many young people he gave rides to
B.F.S (Bigger, Faster, Stronger weightlifting practice) at 6:00 am or rides home
from practice at 6:00 pm. But, including teachers and coaches, he is, without
question, one of the single most memorable individuals of all-time in Portville
and in the lives of the young people, especially boys, who attended Portville
To illustrate, this is an excerpt from a commendation letter dated March 13,
1959, from Colonel William Allen, Jr., Commanding Officer, Rocky Mtn.
Arsenal: “Your participation was much more than that of the coach of a Little
League Athletic program, it was a model of exemplary public relations between
this installation and the surrounding civilian community.”
In another letter sent to school Superintendent Tom Simon from Lieutenant
Arnold Ziegart, Lt. Ziegart writes: “Our military service together is now 56
years removed. His honesty, dedication to duty, and personal drive to
accomplish even the most difficult tasks still resonates in my memory. I know
these qualities have defined both his military service and the personal life of
Wimpy. P.S. I don’t know who the hell Lynford is!”
Work hard, laugh a lot, be honest.
He will turn 81 this year (2015) but, if there was EVER a poster-child for
“young-at-heart” or “Mr. Portville”, it’s my dad, Wimpy Swetland!
(Presentation of the award by Gary Swetland)
(As presented by his son, Gary Swetland, for Hall of Fame at the Alumni
|The Portville Historical and Preservation Society
|17 Maple Avenue
Portville, NY 14770
Portville, New York
|Lynford "Wimpy" Swetland
PCS Hall of Fame ~ Class of 2015