Letters to the Editor...
Role Model in Maine
Charlie Swem of the Maine Regional Group recently passed away. He was a devoted and tireless activist. I don't mean that he was out championing a cause. I mean he was just out— period. Charlie did everything!
It didn't matter to Charlie if he didn't see things well. That just added to the challenge. If you asked him if he had done something, he not only said, "Of course I have and I'm still doing it,” but also “I'm ready to do it again.”
Charlie loved to fish and ski. He collected coins, stamps, and many things one would not think of. He was in a bowling league, played golf, and was a scuba diver. He was an archer, watched the Patriots and the Red Sox, traveled, took great photos, played cards, and took part in every contest imaginable. If there was a trip someplace, Charlie went.
Charlie loved BVA. He served as president of the Maine Regional Group for several years. He constantly made telephone calls to members and prospective members. He always had a membership application ready for newly diagnosed veterans and discussed with them the benefits of comprehensive blind rehabilitation at West Haven.
A very loyal volunteer in the VIST office, Charlie assisted me in maintaining contact with BVA members. He met blinded veterans in the eye clinic, primary care clinics, the cafeteria, the VIST office, or wherever they happened to be. Charlie helped organize the VIST/BVA summer picnics and Christmas parties. He also worked tirelessly with the annual "Eye Opener Golf Challenge for the Blind and Visually Impaired" and ensured that all of the aforementioned events continued even when there was a change in VIST personnel.
Charlie Swem was always full of energy and looking for the next adventure. He was an advocate, an example, and a patriot.
Of all things Charlie is remembered for, he was a great and true friend above all else. BVA has lost a very valuable resource and member. I have lost a very valuable friend.
VIST Coordinator, 1995-2008