Rebecca Carol Swartz passed away from ovarian cancer on June 18. She was 75.
Becky was preceded in death by her parents, Helen May Harris and Kenneth James Chiavetta, and her sister, Roberta McNamara and her husband, Michael.
Tom, her husband of nearly 50 years, died unexpectedly in October 2020.
She is survived by her loving and amazingly proud daughter, Kristi, as well as her nephews, Doug McNamara and his partner, Beth, Ken McNamara and his wife Dana, as well as their daughter, Leah, and son, Michael.
Becky was a friend to many and worked tirelessly to build relationships with family members. She loved reading, traveling, outdoor music, learning languages and sparring over politics, particularly when it came to the 45th U.S. President
She advocated for women's health, human rights and stricter gun laws
She was a fan of all things University of Maryland and the Terps, including men’s and women’s basketball and football. She also enjoyed cheering – and jeering – for the team now known as the Washington Commanders and the Washington Nationals.
Becky frequently texted game scores and emojis to her daughter to keep her in the loop.
Becky loved volunteering, serving most recently as a docent at the Lake Worth Historical Museum. She also was a voting canvasser for various candidates of the Democratic party, continuing her role as an active party member since the 1960s.
Becky learned the French and German languages in college and then studied Italian after traveling to Rome and other parts of Italy with her family to meet distant cousins and she and Kristi found thanks to family records and the internet. She also taught herself conversational Polish, one of the world’s most difficult languages to learn, to pen letters, cards and emails to her husband’s distant relatives as well.
She loved to travel and visited nearly all of the 50 states as well as Puerto Rico. She also traveled throughout Europe and Costa Rica. Among her most valued trips was one to Cuba, with her family, as well as to Italy, Poland and parts of Canada, either to meet or reconnect with family that belonged to her or her husband.
Becky was born in Columbus, Ohio, and lived in West Virginia and North Carolina before moving with her family to Maryland. She has a degree from the University of Maryland and dreamed of being a foreign language translator at the United Nations.
She instead ventured down many career paths including getting her real estate license and becoming a property title searcher.
She started her career at the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co., one of the “baby bells.” She designed telephone systems and various security systems and quickly moved into a role where she was the marketing liaison between the White House and the phone company.
Becky still believed the government’s decision to break up the Bell System in 1982 was stupid.
It is no secret, however, that she was most proud of her daughter, Kristi. She was an amazing mother who served as Kristi’s first teacher, guide and friend. She remained Kristi’s rock throughout both of their lives.
Becky volunteered at Kristi’s school, teaching children computer basics. She also was a Brownie leader and a chauffeur to Kristi’s never-ending activities, which Becky encouraged in order for Kristi to know that her world had endless opportunities
Becky also taught Kristi the basics: how to fold a fitted sheet, set out all of your ingredients before you cook something; and never chase boys.
Becky was most comforting to Kristi after the death of both of her beloved cats, read every one of her newspaper stories, met dozens of her beloved friends and followed her on Twitter. She was Kristi’s biggest cheerleader for running and frequently wished her friends “good luck” on upcoming races.
Along those lines, Becky supported Kristi with strength, grace, encouragement and patience as she struggled to return to running because of long covid. Becky would send Kristi endless encouraging text messages before and after her training runs as well as her races.
Becky spent decades in Crofton, Maryland and enjoyed hanging out in Annapolis. She and her husband spent the last several winters in Lake Worth Beach, Fla. after she was completely fed up with the Maryland winters.
It was in Lake Worth that she rekindled her love for swimming, which was one of the activities she did in order to stay in good health. She managed to dodge COVID19 and any major, severe illnesses until May of this year.
She could easily be spotted in her signature ball caps – usually pink or white – displaying a logo for the beach or the Ron Jon surf shop. Her face wore the most beautiful smile.
Ovarian cancer is known as the ‘silent killer,’ because it is nearly impossible to detect until major symptoms arise. By that point, the cancer likely has metastasized.
After the death of her husband, Becky’s main goal in life was to stay on this Earth for Kristi, knowing that she is an only child and deeply missed her father. Becky protected Kristi from the severity of her illness, wanting only to reveal it when doctors confirmed the diagnosis.
Together, the two put on their armor and headed into battle, with Becky protecting Kristi from her pain and Kristi fiercely protecting her mother’s dignity. Becky told everyone that Kristi was going to take her home, and that’s what Kristi did, holding her mothers hand, saying, “I’m here to take you home, Mom, we’re going home,” as she passed away.