Dee was an educator throughout his life. Mentoring younger workers at Otis, helping fellow safety engineers, informing those at elevator companies as to the meaning of the code, his brilliant lectures, his ASME Code Seminars, his authoritative book Defensive Elevatoring (click here to purchase), and more recently his monthly quizzes he provided at our NCEIG meetings (I loved those).
I got to know and respect Dee through our time together at NCEIG, where he encouraged me in my work and to become active in the industry. I can think of no one who I've met in our industry who has inspired me more than my friend, Dee Swerrie. We will miss him...
Please read below Dee's obituary as provided by his family, the information provided by Dee himself:
DEE ALLEN ERIKSEN SWERRIE
1925 - 2014
Commonly known as D. A. Swerrie by acquaintances and Dee by good friends and family, he left us on the next step of his journey quite peaceably on January 9, 2014. He came to us as the son of Alexander Eriksen Swerrie (Sverre Aleksander Eriksen his name at birth in Norway) and his wife Olive Agnes Swerrie nee Westrom (of the Spencer family, Minnesota). Dee was born March 21, 1925 in San Francisco.
Following Dee's graduation from Balboa High School in the fall of 1942, and when he turned 18, he became a member of the Army and participated in the European Theater of WW II. His anti-aircraft unit was attached to the 10th Armored Division, in the 3rd army under General Patton after securing the landing when Patton was ordered to Normandy. From the invasion at Normandy, in the hedgerow area on the cliffs above the beaches, which was so difficult to cross, under Patton’s leadership they proceeded to re-take France, the Battle of the Bulge, the Siege of Bastogne, and the taking of Treir. Crossing the Rhine River, they led the way across Germany to Bamberg, Dachau and Munich. The war ended, and then, as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Infantry he was rotated back to America and was relieved from active duty for his 21st birthday.
While working at numerous endeavors, Dee attended UC Berkeley and was awarded his BS in 1950. On June 27, 1953, Dee was married to Martha Elizabeth Lee and began their family together. Having moved to Novato, California, in 1965, Dee and Martha were charter members of All Saints Lutheran Church, where Dee worked hard with other church members making the new church building all they envisioned.
After college Dee went to work in the elevator trade with Otis Elevator Company. Leaving Otis in 1965 he became a California State Elevator Inspector. Then he went on to be a Senior Safety Engineer and ultimately Principal Safety Engineer, at the same time achieving California State PE registration as a Safety Engineer.
Retiring from the State in 1986, Dee was self-employed as a consultant specializing in Elevators, Ski-lifts, and Carnival Amusement Rides. He quit field activity in 1999, although he remained active in the industry instructing for ASME and supporting the Northern California Elevator Industry Group. While in the Elevator Industry, he wrote many articles published by Elevator World magazine and a book titled Defensive Elevatoring. He attended seminars around the United States, in France, Germany, Japan and Taiwan. During this time, Dee also became well known working with AARP teaching Driver Safety courses for aging drivers. Dee always said, “It is not work when you like what you are doing. While others look forward to the weekend, I look forward to Mondays.”
He leaves behind his wife of 60 years, Martha, and his three children and their families: Daughter Christina and Edgar Shippey and their son Adam; Son Erik and his three children, Ben, Kyra and David; and Son Lee and Laurie and their two children, Allison and Jonathon. Also surviving are his sister, Allyne Swerrie; Nephews, Mark Figley, Steve Lee and Don Lee; and nieces Lyndy Bullock, Clare Jenet, Jhun Holloway, Robin Orsua, and Laurie Dominguez, and their families.
When asked what he considered his greatest achievement, Dee would say, “Marrying my wife Martha and raising our three children Tina, Erik, and Lee.”
A celebration of Dee's life will be held Saturday, January 18th @ 11 am at All Saints' Lutheran Church, 2 San Marin Drive, Novato. In lieu of flowers a donation to the All Saint's Lutheran Church Secret Santa Program or your favorite charity.