colonel nathan swerdlow

November 07, 1918 - January 08, 2017

Colonel Nathan Swerdlow
Colonel Nathan Swerdlow, known to many as “Colonel”, “Red” or “Pop”, passed away on January 8, 2017, at the age of 98. He was born on November 7, 1918, to Margaret and Sam Swerdlow in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. After graduating high school, Nathan attended the University of Wisconsin prior to being drafted into the U.S. Army in June of 1941. At the time, he had no idea that being drafted would lead him to the love of his life, serve overseas in the 41st tank battalion of the 11th armored division in World War II, help liberate Mauthausen concentration camp, and reach the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves. In 1942, Nathan was ordered to Camp Polk, Louisiana. During his time at Camp Polk, he traveled to Beaumont, Texas, where he met Eva Adler, who later became his wife on January 17, 1943. They traveled for the next 22 months around the states to different army posts prior to Nathan’s deployment overseas in September of 1944. Eva was Nathan’s soul mate, and they remained married for 64 years. Since Nathan could speak Yiddish, he was one of the first U.S. soldiers sent in to liberate Mauthausen concentration camp and speak to the German guards and the camp’s mostly Jewish inhabitants. Those haunting days at Mauthausen shaped the rest of Nathan’s life. From that point forward, he took every opportunity to remind others, including speaking at local churches, schools and civic groups, of his experiences during the war to ensure that the events that took place would never be forgotten. Nathan kept in touch with several of the survivors that were held at Mauthausen and cherished those friendships until the very end. By the end of his military career, Nathan was awarded numerous honors, including a Purple Heart, the Legion of Merit, and The Bronze Star Medal. In addition, Elie Wiesel personally presented him with the Freedom Medal for his liberation efforts during the war. When Nathan came back to the states, he joined Eva, her parents, Morris and Lilly, and her siblings, Ben and Dora (and Dora’s husband, Joe Horwitz) as a co-owner of Adler’s clothing store in downtown Beaumont. Just as Adler’s helped shape the retail community in Beaumont, it also shaped Nathan’s life. “The store” brought Nathan much joy and allowed him to work with the love of his life and her family every day. Retiring from “the store” was one of the most bittersweet moments of his life. On January 12, 1947, Nathan and Eva’s only child, Dr. Robert A. Swerdlow, was born. Nathan was proud of Robert and would light up at any chance to speak of his son’s many accomplishments in his career, the community or his family. Robert went on to marry Marleen Roosth, whom Nathan always called his “daughter”. Annual trips with Robert and Marleen and her extended family comprised many of his fondest memories. Robert and Marleen had one son, Matthew, and as anyone could have predicted based on Nathan’s love for Robert, Matthew was Nathan’s pride and joy. Even as he aged, he loved to tell his friends about Matthew’s latest whereabouts and accomplishments. The admiration was mutual — as Matthew turned to Nathan for wisdom and life lessons and always walked away confident and inspired. When Matthew married his wife, Rachel, Nathan again inherited a “granddaughter.” He was overjoyed when he became a great grandfather upon the birth of Matthew and Rachel’s child, Evelyn. Nothing made Nathan happier or smile brighter than when Evelyn would give him a high five. Nathan was preceded in death by his wife, Eva, son, Robert, parents, Sam and Margaret, sister, Rose, and brother, George. He is survived by his brother, Mort to whom he spoke with every Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. sharp, and sister-in-law, Etsie, “daughter”, Marleen, grandson and “granddaughter”, Matthew and Rachel, and great granddaughter, Evelyn. A special thanks to his caregivers/friends: Bessie Johnson, Mattie Randle, Wilton Allen, Tamika, Audrey, and Bonita. Funeral services for Colonel Swerdlow will be at 11:00 a.m., Wednesday, January 11, 2017, at Temple Emanuel, 1120 Broadway Street, Beaumont, under the direction of Broussard’s, 2000 McFaddin Avenue, Beaumont. Rabbi Joshua Taub of Temple Emanuel, a great friend and spiritual leader to Nathan, will be officiating. His interment will follow at Kol Israel Cemetery, Beaumont. In lieu of flowers/food, the family requests that donations be made to Temple Emanuel, 1120 Broadway Street, Beaumont, Texas 77701; the Dr. Robert A. Swerdlow Memorial Scholarship Fund at Lamar University, P.O. Box 10011, Beaumont, Texas 77710; or a charity of your choice.


2000 Mcfaddin Ave Beaumont, TX 77701
funeral service
Temple Emanuel
1120 Broadway Beaumont, TX 77701
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
11:00 a.m.
Kol Israel Cemetery
2990 Pine Beaumont, TX 77703

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