John Olaf Swobody, at the young age of 54, passed away from synovial sarcoma in Marysville, Washington. He fought cancer for five tough years and would never take NO for an answer when he was told that he was too weak or his blood counts were too low for treatment. Having had two surgeries, numerous chemotherapy treatments, radiation treatments, and experimental treatments, he succumbed on June 4, 2018. He was a fighter until the very end, not wanting to leave his family.
John began his fire service career as a volunteer in 1984 with District #13 in Blaine, Washington. John also volunteered for the City of Blaine and District #7 for 14 years. He was with the Blaine police reserve from 1991-2001. It was clear to see from his beginnings in public safety that he had dedicated his life to keeping his neighbors safe.
In 1999, John was hired as a career firefighter. As John’s career progressed, he strived to challenge himself and others to perform at a higher level, dedicating himself to being the best firefighter he could be. This was reflected in the different positions John worked within the fire district. He loved training and the satisfaction of helping others better themselves. In 2006, John was promoted to training captain. A year later, he was promoted to training chief and served in this capacity for several years. In 2011, John was promoted to operations chief. Between volunteer and career service, he was with the fire service for 34 years.
Bring a firefighter gave John many opportunities, including attending the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He was on a disaster team and was deployed to New Orleans for twenty-six days to recover bodies during Hurricane Katrina.
John’s commitment to service and caring for others was apparent while on a medical mission trip to the Amazon jungle in 2010. His team traveled over 300 miles up the Amazon River, providing medical care and Christian outreach to villages rarely seen by non-native people. Four days were spent living with a village of several hundred people that were so appreciative of the team’s effort that they provided John with an abundance of reward and honor.
John is survived by his wife, Annette; children, Heather Rigos (Mark), Melissa Hopfauf (Jacob), and Curtis Amundson (Cecilia); his grandchildren, whom he adored, Tyler, Ryan, Alex, and Dylan Rigos, Kaleb and Janessa Hopfauf, and Jayden Amundson; his mother, Deloris Swobody; and siblings, Rebecca Cleverly, Donald Swobody Jr., and Eric Swobody.
John will forever be in our hearts and will always be our hero.