Adam Harrison Swope of Malvern, a tireless campaign activist and strategist in state, county, and local politics, died on Saturday afternoon in an automobile accident. He was 38 years old.
The beloved son of Bob and Kathy Swope, life-long teachers in the Reading School District, Swope graduated in 1997 from Reading Senior High School, where had early on shown an interest in politics.
Adam graduated from West Chester University Honors Program in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. While attending WCU, he held various offices in student government, as well as chairing the Young Democrats organization and serving as president of the Sigma Pi Fraternity. His senior year, he also received the West Chester University Outstanding Leader Award. As a Political Science major, he worked on numerous political campaigns in Chester County, first as a volunteer and then as a paid staffer with increasing responsibilities.
Most recently he was employed as an administrative analyst for the county, as well as serving as a campaign chairman for Commissioner Kathi Cozzone. Previously, he held senior roles in Joe Hoeffel’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, and on both Dan Wofford’s 2002 and Lois Murphy’s 2006 campaigns for the 6th Congressional District.
Adam was a regional field rirector for the Obama for America 2008 primary campaign in Pennsylvania. He took pride in the fact that Obama won the county handily, even while Hillary Clinton won the statewide vote. Following the 2008 presidential campaign, Swope was appointed statewide director of the Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, where for seven years he led efforts to advocate for the rights of senior citizens and worked on both state and federal policy matters affecting seniors. During this period, while working full-time, he also completed a master’s degree in Public Administration at Villanova University in 2016.
His dry sense of humor, straight forward and unflappable manner, along with a passion for civic engagement drew co-workers and community members to him. His quiet optimism and enthusiasm were infectious. He was elected chairman of the Willistown/Malvern Democratic Committee, where, during the most recent election, he worked around the clock for a slate of candidates he helped recruit for Borough Council. In what would be his last political campaign, he was rewarded by seeing the candidates he supported sweep to victory.
The tragic news of his death stunned his friends and many campaign colleagues and prompted an outpouring of grief and tributes to his character, integrity, and dedication to the best of our democratic ideals. County Democratic Committee Chairman Brian McGinnis said that Adam was instrumental in the party’s election success this year, noting that, “we’re going to somehow have to try to fill that void and I don’t know how we are going to do it.”
“In a field where self-promotion can be the norm, Adam was a thoroughly unpretentious and decent human being, who could smell a phony a mile away,” noted Dan Wofford, who hired Swope right out of West Chester University to be deputy field director for his 2002 congressional campaign. “Adam was the unsung workhorse whose efforts rarely got recognized, but his footprints are all over this region.” To underscore just this point, one local Democrat told the Daily Local News shortly after his passing that “Adam has been a hero among activists and organizers.”
Adam possessed three qualities most prized in politics, noted his friend Celia Fischer, who hired Swope to work on the Hoeffel for Senate campaign. “His word was as good as gold, he was selfless, and he did whatever it took to get the job done.” Long-time friend and colleague Alicia Alexion echoed Fischer’s sentiment. “Adam was the person you’d want in your foxhole – he was as devoted and dedicated to his campaigns, and his friends, as anyone I’ve ever known.”
Hoeffel himself reflected on some of these same qualities Swope demonstrated during the grueling 2004 Senate race: “Adam performed the impossible job of my Senate campaign scheduler with grace and good cheer. A good and decent man who will be deeply missed by all who worked with him.” State Senator Andy Dinniman concurred: “Adam Swope was an incredible person who was highly skilled in politics and a friend to all.”
“Adam was a terrific work colleague and even better friend,” said Rich Fiesta, executive director of the Alliance for Retired Americans. “He had a first-rate strategic mind coupled with an optimistic outlook that made him great to be around.”
Soon after learning of his death, Cozzone spoke for many of Adam’s friends:
“Words cannot describe the loss to this world of a man so bright, kind and funny. Adam was my political partner for 12 years. He ran all my campaigns and was the manager for my current race for Lieutenant Governor. Much more than that, Adam was a member of the Cozzone family. Our hearts are broken. We will miss his friendship and his laugh. Adam adored his parents, whom we are keeping in our hearts. Adam made a real difference in this world. I am beyond grateful that he was a part of our lives.”
Swope’s closest friend, Amy Yozviak, who was with Adam on Saturday and survived the crash, captured the impact Adam had on the lives of some many of his friends:
“For the past 20 years, Adam has been my best friend, fellow student leader, colleague and mentor – a brother forever. No one person in my life has managed so many roles to me, and I’m just one person he means the world to. I’ll be just one of many people carrying on his legacy. We will all speak louder and fight harder for our many shared convictions and passions, and do what we can to carry on even just a piece of his platform.”
Adam Swope is survived by his parents, Bob and Kathy Swope, his grandmother, Mary Quartieri and step-grandfather, John Paris, and by uncles, Jim Quartieri (Janice), of Sacramento CA; Kerry Swope (Loraine), of Kokomo IN; Brian Swope, Collegeville PA, and Robert Kostival, Reading PA; and aunts Anna Mersinger, Rose Milanek, and Joanna Cirulli.
Memorial services will be held at the Kuhn Funeral Home, 739 Penn Avenue, West Reading, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, with visitation from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The family asks that donations in Adam’s memory be made to Reading High School for a Scholarship Fund to be established in Adam’s name.