April 30, 2014 : Imagine Your Possibilities: Retired South Central Power President & Alumni Leadership Award Winner Dane Swinehart
- Cheri Russo
Communications and Marketing Manager
Lancaster –This story is one about opportunity knocking and answering the door. But, Dane Swinehart says none of it would have ever happened if Ohio University Lancaster hadn’t knocked first. The Lancaster man will be recognized at Ohio University Lancaster | Pickerington’s Honors Convocation on May 2 with the Ohio University Lancaster Campus Alumni Leadership Award.
“I had no other route to get a college degree. I couldn’t travel or live elsewhere. I had a job and family. The Lancaster Campus offered me an opportunity. If I was going to advance in my career and my life, I needed more education,” said Swinehart. “It was convenient, and it was affordable. The university made an effort to try to accommodate my schedule and make life better.”
Swinehart graduated from high school in 1954 and went to college the next year at Ohio University in Athens. He was taking engineering courses and playing sports. The summer after his freshman year, Swinehart got married. The following school year, Swinehart and his new bride headed south. Swinehart was transferring to Florida State to play baseball, but, life happened before he even took one class.
“My wife was pregnant,” said Swinehart. “That changed everything. We both went and got jobs.”
Eventually, the Swineharts moved back to Lancaster to be near family with their new baby. Dane worked at a paper mill, played semi-pro baseball and eventually landed a position at South Central Power. Around that time, Ohio University started offering classes at Lancaster High School. Swinehart decided to take classes in an effort to finish his degree. But, life happened again.
“I was progressing in my job at South Central and had a dispatching position,” said Swinehart. “I had to be on call 24 hours a day. So, I missed an awful lot of classes. I dropped out again for a couple of years.”
Swinehart was then promoted to lineman at South Central. He climbed poles and worked on lines. But the call to finish his degree at Ohio University Lancaster never left him.
“I went back when was I was 25, and I got really serious,” said Swinehart. “During that time, there was an education I paid for and an education I didn’t pay for. One tells you about the things that are important in life, and the other teaches you about the things that you never knew were important.”
While in school, Swinehart was promoted to a field engineer at South Central. He budgeted his time wisely between work, family and school. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree at 31 years old.
After graduation, Swinehart became a district manager for South Central and the promotions kept coming. In January, 1974, the 36-year-old Swinehart became the president of the company.
“During my first year as president, a major tornado came through and tore down a bunch of transmission line,” said Swinehart. “But, the crews and contractors were able to handle it.”
Swinehart said he never forgot what the Lancaster Campus did for him and tried to encourage others to come to campus to get their college education.
“I always looked for potential in people and tried to guide them here (to Ohio University Lancaster) so they could become more.”
At 77-years-old, Swinehart is now enjoying his retirement. He has three children, four grandchildren and one great grandchild. He hopes that his Ohio University Lancaster story is one that will inspire those grandchildren to “become more” as well.