MAXINE SWALIN ’ 72 1903–2009
Swalin Made Sure N.C. Didn’t Lose Its Symphony
The Swalins and the orchestra, which had
no home, took the music to the people. They
traveled across the state in a bus that had on
its side the slogan “Music ‘From the Smokies
to the Sea.’ ” The Swalins were committed to
the idea that children be exposed to good
music, so whenever
a concert was
required a free con-
cert for students.
for school groups,
she would talk with
explaining the music
they were about to
hear and the orches-
tra that was about to
play it. She played
the celesta and piano
and often accompa-
The Swalins were
politically savvy and
helped form sym-
groups in every
town in which they
performed. As the
symphony gained its footing, the N.C.
General Assembly began allocating funding.
In 1943, the “Horn-Tootin’ ” bill passed,
guaranteeing annual funding for the sympho-
ny, making it the first state-supported sym-
phony in the nation. In 1966, the symphony
received a $1 million Ford Foundation grant,
which gained it national prominence.
She saved the music. When Maxine McMahon Swalin ’ 72
moved to Chapel Hill in 1935 as a bride, the
N.C. Symphony had nearly fallen apart. Its
founder had retired.
Almost no one and
nothing was left.
During the next
she and her husband, the late
’ 59, were credited
with saving the
being key in developing it into the
institution it is
COURTESY OF CAROLINA PERFORMING ARTS
died Oct. 8 at her
Chapel Hill home.
She was 106.
for the job they
took on. Maxine
Maxine Swalin ’ 72 played, booked concerts and did whatever
else it took to keep the N.C. Symphony going from the 1930s
to the 1960s.
Swalin had just
graduated in piano and theory from what is
now the Julliard School; her husband had
been hired to join UNC’s music faculty. He
became the symphony’s director at no pay.
She did the rest — bookings, hiring, even
After her husband died in
1989, Swalin continued to be active. At 94,
she gave a piano concert at the Chapel Hill
Museum. She continued to study piano and
to paint — and to advocate for the symphony, charming donors and legislators alike. Her
work did not go unrewarded. At her 100th
birthday, she received the North Caroliniana
Society Award, given “for long and distinguished service in the encouragement, production, enhancement, promotion and preservation of North Caroliniana.” In 2005, UNC
gave her the lifetime achievement award in
the performing arts, along with actor Andy
Griffith ’ 49 and composer Richard Adler ’ 43.
There were more honors, such as the N.C.
Award for Public Service and the Order of
the Long Leaf Pine. An annual award honoring a music educator is given in her name by
the symphony. When the symphony got a
permanent home in Meymandi Concert Hall
in Raleigh in 2001, the lobby was dedicated
to the Swalins, complete with a bronze statue
On the day of Maxine Swalin’s death, the
symphony, as scheduled, performed in
Memorial Hall on the UNC campus. The
symphony dedicated Nimrod Variation by
Edward Elgar from his Enigma Variations to
her, as it did in subsequent performances that
weekend in Raleigh.
— Sally Walters
ONLINE: Many tributes and recollections of
Maxine Swalin are posted on the N.C. Symphony
Web site, www.ncsymphony.org.
representing Wake County, is an adjunct professor in
the UNC School of Government.
Grainger Raymond Barrett (’ 70 AB, ’ 74 JD), 59, of
Fayetteville; July 29, 2009. Barrett was Cumberland
County attorney. Previously, he had been a town
attorney in Person County and Chapel Hill. He was an
assistant professor at the former Institute of
Government at UNC, president of the N.C.
Association of County Attorneys and active in the
N.C. Bar Association. During much of his career, he
maintained a private practice. He served in the Air
Force. At UNC, he belonged to AFROTC. u Nancy
Saul (’ 70 AB), 59, of Atlanta; July 13, 2009. Saul
practiced law in Atlanta for 25 years. Among her volunteer activities, she read the newspaper on the
radio for visually impaired listeners and sang for
of the Bible in Contemporary Rhyme. Roochvarg is
the cantor for Temple Israel in Charlotte. Story,
Marvyn Roger Green (’ 71 MAT), 63, of Mesa, Ariz.;
July 12, 2009. Green worked for a pharmaceuticals
company and in the savings and loan and security
businesses. u Robert Jeffrey Sweatt (’ 71 AB), 60, of
San Mateo, Calif.; July 23, 2009. After an early
career as an operations manager for an engineering
firm, Sweatt taught English language development
and English literature at Westmoor High School in
Daly City, Calif. At UNC, he was in the Marching
Band. u Eddie Joe Walker (’ 71), 59, of Charlotte;
June 30, 2009. Walker was a state wrestling champion in high school. u James Milton Walker (’ 71), 59,
of Ellenboro; Dec. 5, 2008. Walker was known as
“Mr. Picture,” as he was a former photographer for
high school sports, proms and weddings in the county. He also spearheaded the development of the
Ellenboro Depot Museum as a member of a National
Railway Historical Society.
’ 72 Fred N. Eshelman (’ 72 BSPHR) of Wilm- ington has been recognized with the ded- ication of a star in the Wilmington Walk of
Fame. Eshelman is the founder and executive chairman of PPD Inc., a global contract research organization. The UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy is named
in his honor. u Joyce Williams O’Callahan (’ 72 ABEd)
of New Bern has become co-owner of Ghosts of New
Bern Walking Tour, shepherding visitors through the
historic district of New Bern, telling stories of strange
occurrences and unusual happenings. u Harvey
Wright Raynor III (’ 72, ’ 75 AB) of Fayetteville has been
named interim county attorney for Cumberland County,
where he has been deputy attorney since 2007.
Patricia Gail Parker (’ 72, ’ 75 BSZOO; ’ 84 PhD) and
Alan Stephen Nagle (’ 72 AB) of Webster Groves, Mo.
Ann Jeffers Eades (’ 72, ’ 71 MPH), 85, of Owensboro,
Ky.; Aug. 10, 2009. Eades spent 20 years in Dallas,
appointed to the Commission Officers Corps of the