Date of Death: January 29, 2021

Service Details

A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

Obituary Notice

James (Jim) Curtis Swayzee, 72, of Three Rivers, Michigan and Bonita Springs, Florida, passed away on January 29, 2021, at Bronson Medical Center, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, surrounded by his wife, Franziska Swayzee (nee Kainbrecht), and his two children, Eva Verna Van Brunt (nee Swayzee) and James Michael Swayzee.

Jim was born in New Castle, Indiana on October 18, 1948 — the third son to Ernest Wayne Swayzee and Verna Swayzee (nee Clark). He attended Walter P. Chrysler High School where he earned impressive grades, started as varsity football quarterback and set a high school record in pole vaulting. As a teenager, he sang in a Beach Boys-inspired band and forged friendships that he worked actively to keep throughout his highly mobile life. He attended Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts. While there, he joined the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, sang in the Glee Club, and was again a starting quarterback on the varsity football team. At Wabash, he also set a longstanding Indiana state record in pole vaulting (14’). He spent his junior year abroad learning Spanish in Bogota, Colombia – a decision that would set him up for a lifetime love of travel and linguistics.

Upon graduating from Wabash in 1970, he enlisted in the United States Army.  The Vietnam War was raging and his draft lottery number was low, but with great resourcefulness, Jim was selected to study German at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California. He was ultimately stationed in Eschwege, Germany where he worked in military intelligence interviewing people that had attempted crossings of the Berlin Wall into Allied territory. During this stint abroad he met his future Austrian-born wife Franziska. After completing his military service, Jim went on to attend graduate school at the University of Southern California where he earned a Master’s Degree in International Business and Economics.

He launched his professional career in management consulting with Booz Allen Hamilton in Paris, France, a position that would send him for the first time to the far corners of the world on projects across a wide array of industries. Jim and Franziska conceived the first of their two children, daughter Eva, in 1976. They were married in 1979 and, in 1981, they conceived their second child, son Jimmy. Jim, Franziska, and their two children would relocate to Indianapolis in the early 1980s, so Jim could join Eli Lilly & Company, beginning in pharmaceutical sales and sparking a long career in pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting. His work there would promote advancements in human growth hormone and the meteoric launch of the anti-depressant Prozac in the 1990s, among many other projects contributing to health and wellness the world over. It is during these years that the family divided their time between Indianapolis, Indiana, Paris, France and London, England. In the latter part of his professional career, Jim transferred to Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), where he became an Associate Partner. He worked for Accenture throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s consulting with pharmaceutical companies and continuing to build his reputation and expertise in the field of business development. At the time of his passing, Jim was still affiliated with the firm CRA International, advising emerging life sciences companies when he could.

Jim was the most devoted to both his family and his career for his entire adult life. In his free time, he was also an avid sports fan – closely following his beloved Hoosier basketball and Dodgers baseball teams no matter where in the world he might have been. He was also a prolific reader and lifelong student of history, politics and economics. He enjoyed nothing more than a good debate with his family around the dinner table and instilled in his children a strong sense of ethics, activism and social responsibility. A thoughtful guide and advisor to many, both professionally and personally, he will be missed beyond words. He was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2009, a disease he fought with remarkable grace and persistence for 12 years.

In addition to his wife and children, Jim is survived by his brother, Jerry Swayzee of Boulder, Colorado; his two grandchildren, Noah Lincoln and Cyrus James Van Brunt; his son-in-law; his daughter-in-law; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

Additional Information

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the International Myeloma Foundation.

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  1. Very sorry to hear of the passing of great colleague and friend to the Pharma community. I had the pleasure of working with Jim at Lilly in the mid 90’s and we stayed in touch through the years. His sage advice was always very helpful.
    My condolences to Franziska and the extended family.

  2. Franziska:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Jim’s death.

    As you know we were longtime friends and colleagues and Jim’s passing makes me so so sad.

    We were classmates and buddies at Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA and then spend many good times in Germany and in Paris when Jim lived there.

    I hope that you’ll feel free to contact me as I have a so many pictures and memories of you, Jim and baby Eva.

    I especially our great times in Oberndorf and me babysitting Eva while you and Jim skied.


    David A.L. Smith

  3. Dear Franziska,
    I just heard about Jim’s passing and want to tell you how sorry I am you’ve lost him. He’s had a rough time of it healthwise the past few years, and he was a fighter through it all.
    I well remember the day Jim and his family moved into the Jackson’s house on Corey Lake; they stormed the beach with great energy and were all a joy to spend time with. I know Sycamore Beach will miss Jim and look forward to you and your kids still being on the lake to carry on the summertime traditions.
    I’m sure Jimmy and Eva are taking good care of you now and it will be good to see you at the lake in a few months. Prayers and wishes are with you, my friend.
    My best, Susan Gatten

  4. Dear Mrs. Swayzee, I was so saddened to hear of Jim’s passing. I worked with him from the New York office and enjoyed having him as a colleague. He was kind, sweet, smart, and a joy to have known. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers and I will think of Jim often and remember him fondly. I am very sorry for your loss.

  5. We are very sad to learn that Jim left us
    We offer our condolences to the whole family especially to Franziska and her children
    Bernard met Jim when he became director of Liilly France in Paris
    They enjoyed squash together and became good friends since that period
    We used to see him with Franziska either in Paris or in Florida for friendly meetings
    We hope to see Franziska when We will be able to visit USA again
    Kind regards
    F and B moreau

  6. Dear Cousin Jim,

    I was shocked and saddened to hear of your passing. I remember when Mom, Phil, and I came for a vacation visit in about 1965. I had a “cousin crush” on you. I remember going to watch your baseball games. Lots of sweet memories, and then later meeting your wife. I wish I’d been able to visit with you again and talk about family. I still have so many questions. Hopefully soon I’ll make it back to visit with folks there. Rest In Peace. Until later!

  7. Dear Jim,
    I’m so sad that you are gone. I didn’t know you were living in Three Rivers- our summer place is in Dowagiac. Our mutual friend came one summer for a visit. Had we’d known you were just 40 minutes away..,,
    Sounds like you had a beautiful life! So many sweet memories of singing together , church. One memory was my first date of my life, was with you. Maybe we were 13. You and your parents came and picked me up and we went swimming at the YMCA. So sweet.
    May you Rest In Peace. You’ve brought much love to your family. And wisdom to our world. I’m so glad I knew you. Linda Sales O’Brien

  8. Toasting to you buddy over a special bottle of wine! So many great memories from Parker school, gutter bug in your basement, baseball in the backyard with Fuller, Cleveland, Goodwin (and rest of gang), dinners at the Elks, our special parents friendship, and so many great conversations! Thanks for the memories and so much love to your sweet Franziska and children. Keep in touch and Rest In Peace!

  9. Jim and I were friends in high school and were in the same “club”. I lost touch with Jim after high school and very often wondered where he was and what he was up to. It appears he had a life well lived. My condolences to his family.

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