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Chris Allen Swindells

Died: January 12, 2020

Chris Swindells was born October 20, 1943 and grew up in Dedham, MA. Throughout life he frequently returned to his family home, often with an entourage of family, friends, or both, always warmly welcomed by his parents. Chris attended and completed high school at Choate and in 1962 matriculated to Yale. He lived in Davenport College, was a member of Zeta Psi, participated in squash and track, and majored in Political Science and Art History. Chris was nicknamed “Slides” by close friends because of the number of HA classes he took. Lux et Veritas.

Chris attended graduate school at the Institut de Hautes Etudes Internationales in Geneva, Switzerland, where he received a degree in International Relations in 1969. Years later, Chris attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard where, in 1992, he was awarded an advanced degree in Public Administration. It was while at IUHEI in Geneva, however, that Chris met and married Heidi, the love of his life, then a German citizen. Chris and Heidi, who became a US citizen in 2009, enjoyed a remarkable and rich life together for more than 51 years.

Perhaps no member of our class made friends as easily as Chris, not just acquaintances but true and lasting friends, and not only at Yale but around the world. Friendship was a natural skill and Chris’s personality was magic, a magnate drawing people to him. He laughed easily, was attentive, loyal, always cheerful, and treated everyone with genuine respect. He could lighten the mood in any room. If he had complaints, he found no pleasure in them, did not dwell on them, and had no need to share them.

Chris was a natural and able diplomat and his life work in international finance was well suited to those skills. For twenty-five of the first fifty years after our 1966 graduation his employment allowed, indeed required, travel and living abroad. He and Heidi, who had a 30-year career with the United Nations, lived and worked, children included, in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, the Soviet Union, Lebanon, Morocco, Haiti, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil, as well as in the United States. Eventually, Chris and Heidi ended up in the eastern Long Island village of Sag Harbor, NY.

Chris was a natural athlete, excelling in individual sports like squash, skiing, golf, and tennis. He spoke fluent French, but with a heavy accent that never failed to amuse Heidi, his daughters, and others who might be listening. Chris’s family was his gold. He cherished Heidi and his three daughters, Caroline, Felicia, and Lorraine. When his daughters grew older and married, he welcomed and loved their husbands. He treasured his grandchildren beyond measure.

In 2019 Chris contracted cancer and was bedridden the last six weeks of his life. He died peacefully at home in Sag Harbor on January 12, 2020, never complaining or even mentioning his disease to friends who, after he died, regretted not visiting because they didn’t know. When a song is sung about fellowship, friendship, or a life well lived, those who knew Chris will think of him and say a prayer.

Cameron Smith