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Merna Connelley Swihart

Merna Connelley Swihart, 89, passed away at her home December 29, 2019. Merna is survived by her three children Gail Swihart Watson (Jerome), David L Swihart (Rhonda), Jennifer Swihart (Steven Stack) and sister Mary Connelley Sandage. She has seven grandchildren, Christopher Watson (Natalie), Stephanie Watson, Mathew Watson, Aletheia Swihart, Jonathan Swihart, XanDr Stack, XanTh Stack (Samantha) and one great-grandson, Ares Watson.

Merna was preceded in death by husband of 43 years Dr. Thomas L Swihart, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona, and parents Hazel Alton and James A Connelley. Merna was born in Milan, Indiana June 11, 1930. She graduated from Versailles High School and attended Indiana University School of Music for 2 years where she concentrated on vocal training. She met her future husband through introduction by her sister Mary Connelley. Mary and Tom were students in the Indiana University School of Astronomy. Merna and Tom were married October 10, 1951 in Bloomington Indiana.

She moved with her husband and growing family numerous times, leaving Indiana to live in Wisconsin, Mississippi, New Mexico, Illinois, and finally arrived in Tucson, Arizona the summer of 1963. She and her family lived in Bornova, Turkey 1969-70 where Tom was a visiting professor of Astronomy at Ege University.

Merna was active in the Church of the Brethren all her married life and increasingly volunteered in various activities as the last of her children reached adulthood. She was in the church choir and sang solo many times. She had a lifelong love of music, and in addition to singing, she played the piano, organ, recorders and all horn instruments in her high school marching band. She participated in various choral groups in Tucson over a 35-year period, most notable is the Buckwalter Singers. She reached out and kept in touch with relatives and children of relatives her whole life, giving comfort and support to family members in times of need.

She was an avid mystery reader and was very interested in ancient Egypt. She enthusiastically followed golf, baseball and basketball. She shared a love of the night sky with her husband, and quickly came to appreciate the beauty of the Arizona desert after moving to Tucson. She lived in Tucson for 56 years.

A memorial service will be held Friday January 17, 10:00 a.m. at the Adair Funeral Home, Avalon Chapel. Address is 8090 N. Northern Ave, Tucson, 85704. It was Merna’s wish that donations to the giver’s favorite charity be made in lieu of flowers or gifts.