Foster William "Bill" Swope

Foster William (Bill) Swope May 25, 1922 – February 18, 2018 Bill Swope, 95, died peacefully at his home in Elizabethtown, KY surrounded by family and friends, Sunday evening, February 18, 2018. He was born May 25, 1922 in Cleveland, OH to Lytle E. Swope and Dorothy F. Swope. Bill graduated from Rittman High School in 1940 where he played football and clarinet in the band, then attended Miami University, Oxford, OH majoring in business administration. On a double-blind date at Miami U, Bill met and fell in love with Elizabeth (Betty) Sanford (his date that evening was the other girl). World War II was just breaking out and Bill interrupted his romance and education to join the U.S. Army in 1942. He served under General George S. Patton in the European Theater of Operations, Battery B, 335th Field Artillery Battalion, 87th Infantry Division, 3rd Army, in England; France; Belgium; Luxembourg; and Germany. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Bill was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his service in World War II. He returned to the states in July, 1945, as an Army Sergeant. Fully expecting to be redeployed to the war with Japan, Bill and Betty were married on July 26, 1945 at the home of her parents in Chevy Chase, Maryland. Betty joined the U.S. Navy during the war and attained the rank of Lieutenant, JG. As a commissioned officer, she out-ranked Bill and had to get permission from her commanding officer to marry him. According to Betty, permission was granted so her commanding officer could kiss the bride. Bill, on the other hand, was only allowed to salute his bride, which he continued to do first thing every morning and last thing each night for nearly 72 years. Bill returned to Miami U graduating in 1946. Together they raised three sons, one daughter, a foster daughter and foster son. From 1946 to 1952, Bill traveled the southeast as area manager for Eagle-Pitcher Industries where he honed his professional selling skills demonstrating insulation products and other building materials. He loved to sell but became more fascinated with his new Plymouth company car than insulation. In June, 1952, Bill moved his family from Cincinnati to Winchester, KY where he opened his first automobile dealership, Swope Motor Company, Inc. In July, 1961, Bill moved to Elizabethtown, KY, the family followed a month later, where he grew the business to what is now the Swope Family of Dealerships. Second and third generation Swopes are now operating the dealerships. Bill served on the Chrysler, Dodge, and Toyota national dealer councils and received numerous industry recognitions, including the Toyota Quality Dealer Award; Sports Illustrated Quality Dealer Award; and Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award, which recognize community service in addition to business success. As persons of deep faith, Bill and Betty would be found at First Presbyterian Church nearly every Sunday and other days of the week where Bill served as Deacon, Elder, Trustee, Sunday School Teacher, and chairman of numerous committees. He was the Capital Campaign Chairman for the building fund that built the new church on Pear Orchard Road in 1992. Bill believed strongly that business owners have a responsibility to give back to their community. He demonstrated that by serving two terms on the Elizabethtown City Council during Mayor Pritchard’s administration. He also served on the Planning Commission; Public Housing Commission; the Industrial Foundation Board; and the Human Relations Commission, which established the Helping Hand Agency, now Helping Hand of Hope. Fort Knox relations were also a high priority. Bill was Past President of the Daniel Boone Chapter Association of the United States Army, a founding member of the C.O.R.E. Committee, and Patton Museum Cavalry Armor Foundation. Other boards and affiliations include Chapter President American Red Cross, Jail Ministry, founding board member for Hospice of Central KY (Hosparus), Kentucky Food Bank (Feeding America), Habitat for Humanity, Elizabethtown Chamber of Commerce, Helping Hand, founding board member of the Challenger Learning Center, founding board member of Hardin Larue Community Health Clinic, Chairman of Hardin County Community Foundation (Central KY Community Foundation), and the Community Foundation of Louisville. Bill was a loyal member of the Elizabethtown Lions Club for 66 years and recipient of the Lions Club Melvin Jones Fellow Award. He was a strong supporter of the Boy Scouts serving as S.M.E. chairman for several years and the Troop Committee for Troop 829. The Old Kentucky Home Council and Lincoln Heritage Council, Boy Scouts of America, recognized Bill with the Merit Award; Presidents Award; Silver Beaver Award; and Distinguished Citizen Award. Other recognitions include the Elizabethtown Big E and Hall of Fame Awards, Farm/City Distinguished Service Award, Jaycee Boss of the Year Award, and the Kentucky State Vocational Education Merit Award. He was a Kentucky Colonel; and a member of the Scottish Rite, Kosair Shrine Temple. Bill’s hobby, which he aggressively pursued upon his retirement, was collecting and restoring vintage and classic automobiles. The collection grew beyond the capacity to store them in the dealerships; so in 1999, he opened Swope’s Cars of Yesteryear Museum. He continued adding to his collection right up until a few months before his death. His parents; wife, Betty Swope; brother, Samuel G. Swope; and grandson, James Hornback, precede Bill in death. He is survived by sons, Bob (Jan) Swope of Elizabethtown, Dick (Ann) Swope of Prospect, KY, and Carl (Anne) Swope of Elizabethtown; daughter, Rev. Katherine (Jim) Redmond of Lexington, KY; foster daughter, Angela (Lon) Keith of Lexington, KY; foster son, Larry (Debra) Hornback of Melbourne, FL; 13 grandchildren, 20 great grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. The funeral service for Bill Swope is 12:30 PM Thursday, February 22nd, at First Presbyterian Church, 1016 Pear Orchard Road in Elizabethtown, KY. Burial will be at the Veterans Cemetery in Radcliff at 2:30 PM with military honors. There will be a Masonic Service at 12:15 p.m. Thursday at the church. Visitation is Wednesday from 4:00 to 8:00 PM at Brown Funeral Home in Elizabethtown. Expressions of sympathy may take the form of donations to the First Presbyterian Church Building Fund or the charity of your choice. Condolences may be expressed at


Wednesday, February 21, 2018 from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Brown Funeral Home


Thursday, February 22, 2018 starting at 12:00 PM
First Presbytarian Church

View Printer-Friendly Version