Alumni Spotlight On Paul Swift '75

    Linda and Paul Swift '75 Enjoy A Moment Together.
    November 4, 2018

    As a student of Scranton Central High School in the 1970s, Paul Swift ’75 never thought he would one day become The University of Scranton alumnus who donated the first Greek language New Testament printed in Western Europe to the University’s rare book collection; Swift, in fact, never thought he would attend the University at all, despite his extended family’s association with it.

    “In all candor, and this is extreme candor, I initially did not have an interest in going to The University of Scranton,” the Hill Section native said.

    How, then, did Swift become a Royal who gifted a priceless artifact to his alma mater? Therein lies a tale…

    All In The Family

    Growing up, Swift became very familiar with the University’s campus by frequenting the Mulberry Street basketball courts it owned at the time. His grandfather, Ted Rafferty, worked on many of the vehicles of the University’s Jesuits at his gas station, Rafferty & Welles, which was then located near the Estate, and Swift’s great aunt, Nellie Brown, who became the first practicing female physician in Scranton, was the first woman to study at the University (when it was still St. Thomas College) when she took a course required for medical school in the 1920s. In addition to those connections, Swift’s cousin, Frank C. Brown, taught at the University as a professor of history for many years. Partly because of that familiarity with the University, the young Swift initially sought to go away to school.

    Rafferty & Welles, Ted Rafferty's gas station.

    Rafferty & Welles, Ted Rafferty's gas station.

    “My feeling was that if I went to The University of Scranton, it was going to be like a fifth year of high school,” he said.

    Instead, Swift chose to study at what was then known as the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University (now LIU Post). His financial situation soon changed, however, when his parents’ marriage ended, and Swift realized he would have to work his way through school. After considering his options, Swift chose to move back home to major in history and minor in political science at the University with his sights set upon the long term goal of becoming a lawyer.

    “It was a terrific educational experience in terms of the quality of the professors and the Jesuits,” he said.

    Opportunity Knocks

    As a student, Swift began working in the credit department of Sears Roebuck and, upon graduating, the company offered him a management position.

    “I said to myself, ‘Well, I’ll go to law school later,’ because I had been financially challenged for a number of years,” he said. “Needless to say, once the money started coming in, I did not want to return to student poverty.”

    While at Sears Roebuck, Swift was promoted a number of times, eventually rising to the position of New Credit Account Sales Manager for the City of Philadelphia.

    “(Sears) could have been Amazon before Amazon, when you think of it,” he said. “The (Sears) catalog was Amazon in 1910. They were shipping products all around the country.”

    Along the way, he met Linda Gotchel, and the two eventually married. Around that time, Swift decided to leave Sears Roebuck and began working in the sales department of a small distribution firm in the hospitality supply industry.

    “I always had a passion for cooking,” he said. “I basically cooked for my brother and sister as they grew up.”

    That passion soon led him to a sales position with U.S. Foodservice, where he enjoyed a successful 20-year career while he and Linda raised two daughters, Lauren and Casey, in their Sea Isle City, New Jersey, home. About five years ago, he founded his own hospitality supply company, Swift and Associates, which he continues to run today.

    The Story Behind The Donation Of The Greatest Story Ever Told


    A page from the fifth volume of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible.

    Over the course of her remarkable life, Nellie Brown collected many antiques, and, in 1931, she purchased the fifth volume (containing the New Testament) of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible printed in 1514 at Complutense University in Madrid for Cardinal Ximenes, founder of Complutense University.

    “This New Testament is from a landmark six-volume Bible printed in multiple languages,” said University Special Collections Librarian and Associate Professor Michael Knies. “The Complutensian Polyglot was the first multi-lingual Bible printed in Europe and portions contain Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Aramaic. Work on the polyglot commenced around 1502, but it took until 1517 for printing to be completed. It then took until 1520 to gain papal approval.”

    After Nellie’s death, the Bible came into Swift’s possession, and he decided to donate it to the University in honor of Nellie, Ted Rafferty and Frank Brown.

    “I really thought she would want it to be (at the University),” Swift said. “I’m sure Frank Brown would have wanted it (at the University).”

    The Weinberg Memorial Library recently featured the Bible in a rare book exhibit in its Heritage Room, which delighted Swift.

    “When I saw it in the glass case (in the Heritage Room), I truly felt like I did the right thing,” Swift said. “You don’t get the opportunity to do something like that often.”

    By giving the Bible a permanent home at his alma mater, Swift secured his family’s legacy while preserving an important piece of history.

    “Any good university is a living, breathing thing,” he said. “The more you can feed the university, the bigger and stronger it’s going to be for future generations.

    “The future of the University looks very strong, does it not?”

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