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Sam Terry Commentary: A Community Mourns

Managing Editor
Jobe Publishing Inc.

Some believe that grief changes a community. I tend to disagree, preferring to think that grief reveals the true heart of a community. Exposing our hearts for all to see is exactly what is happening in Barren County this week following the death of Mike Swift on Monday afternoon.

By Monday night, the nauseating parade of political posts nearly disappeared from social media, replaced by messages, comments, and testimonials about Mike’s life witness to his fellow man. Unimportant chatter in grocery store aisles, restaurants, and meetings ceased and the focus turned to Mike and what he meant to this community and the people who call it home.

All of that is just like Mike. He was the fellow who appeared in our midst at some of life’s worst moments. Without fail he found the right words to say, delivered the hug that was so badly needed, gave comfort to the unwell, and served his community with compassion. Quite unexpectedly, he did it again on Monday when this community needed a reality check. Mike’s passing gave us a collective push to step away from our selfishness and reveal our compassion and generosity held together by faith and love.

Albert Schweitzer, the legendary theologian, musician, philosopher and physician once said, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve.” Schweitzer could have written those words about our adopted son, friend, and neighbor Mike Swift. Like Schweitzer, Mike understood that life might be a bit harder when one lives to serve others, but it also becomes richer and happier.

Mike exemplified the concept of a servant-leader. He understood when he was on an ambulance run or a coroner’s call that we don’t live in a world all our own and that others are here, too. In those tough circumstances, Mike innately knew what he was called to contribute to the situation and he did it with love and compassion, never seeking fanfare or recognition. To Mike, it wasn’t just his job, it was his calling in life, his own personal ministry to others.

Mike understood that he was not placed here – or anywhere else, for that matter – just to make a living. He understood that he could help others live more abundantly, have a greater vision, personify an attitude of kindness, and witness a spirit of hope. He enriched us, our community, and our world through his presence and he will be sorely missed.

May we not forget his gifts to us.


  1. Betty Ellis on March 9, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Mike was a super guy, a greats& compassionate friend & neighbor. RIP Mike you served Barren County well.

  2. Shirley Whitley on March 9, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Never met this man that he wasn’t smiling and ALWAYS ALWAYS spoke to you! Such a great person BARREN COUNTY will never be the same!! BLESSINGS TO ALL OF HI FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!

  3. Linda Tinsley on March 9, 2017 at 8:58 pm

    Thank you for your gracious & kind comments regarding Mr. Mike Swift.

  4. Sherrycoffey on March 11, 2017 at 12:46 am

    He always came in the z mart were i did work he was always happy no matter how he felt yhe last time he came in he had a cold like we all been battling this winter but he was still doing his job he was a sure blessing to our family so many times the right words to say the cumfort he just made you have when he came to let you know heaven needed another angel so hes there rejoiceing with all them and our amazing god wstching over us prayers for everyone god bless everyone never talk life for granted never know when your time to go home will come from this jounery

  5. Albert Trotter on March 21, 2017 at 12:02 pm

    what a man he was..full of passion ,vision and handwork… BARREN COUNTY lost his real hero,leader pioneer, front runner and pathfinder…May his soul rest in peace

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