Heldria Swilley

Published 3:01 pm Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Heldria Franklin Swilley passed into eternal life on Thursday, March 28, at 9:29 p.m. He was 100 years old. Born on Nov. 1, 1918, in Bogalusa, he was the son of Luther and Sarah Smith Swilley, early Bogalusa residents.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his wife, Audrey Singley Swilley; his siblings, Helen Swilley Dunaway, Mildria Swilley George, and Virginia Swilley Dunaway Day.

He is survived by one brother, B. Clyde Swilley of Bogalusa; and many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and great-great nieces and nephews who fondly called him Uncle H.

As a young man, Heldria joined the Calvary when the unit still used and housed horses at the old armory. When Battery C 105CA of the National Guard was activated during World War II, he was one of the100 men who left for training in Ft. Hulon, Texas, and then completed desert training in the Mojave Desert in California. After interim training in England, he was stationed in Algeria – French Morocco and Tunisia fighting with General George S. Patton. He was also in Sicily and Italy where he sustained an injury that necessitated his return to the states and an honorable discharge. The 205th Engineering Battalion of the National Guard honored him on his 100th birthday as the sole survivor of the 100 soldiers who left for war from the local Guard Unit. He also received a 100th birthday card from President Donald Trump.

Following World War II, he returned home and began his career with the Gaylord Container Corporation where he worked until his retirement. On Nov. 23, 1952, he married the love of his life, Audrey Mae Singley, of Columbia, Miss., who taught fifth grade at Pleasant Hill School for 33 years. Together they shared a beautiful life loving each other and serving God in their secular jobs and their church, Superior Avenue Baptist Church where Heldria served as deacon and was a faithful member of the Fishers of Men Sunday School Class. He was also a member of the Masonic Order of Center Lodge 244 and was recently honored for his 70 years of service with the Masons. Heldria always expressed his gratitude for having had a wonderful life. He truly enjoyed a simple life and found the magic in ordinary days. He will be sadly missed by family, church family, and friends.

Poole-Ritchie Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Family visitation will be on Thursday, April 4, from 8:30 a.m. until 9 a.m. Visitation will be from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. The service, including Masonic rites, will begin at 11 a.m. at the funeral home. Interment will be at the Woodlawn Cemetery in Columbia, Miss., at 2:30 p.m. The Rev. Clay Norwood will officiate the funeral service. Center Lodge #244 will conduct the Masonic rites. The American Legion Post #24 will provide the military rites.

Pallbearers will include Michael Peters, Bill Stark, Jonathan Sevier, Andrew Shivers, Chris Shivers and Virgil Singley.

The family wishes to thank and gratefully acknowledge Amy Brooks, Cheryl McLaurin, Sheila Gaines, Odeal Gaines, Ashley Walker, Barbara Williams, Susan Martin, Delores Duncan, Dewaune King, Dr. Steve Ogden, Southeast Home Health, and Encompass Hospice for their kind and compassionate care.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Superior Avenue Baptist Church.