Geraldine Leone Swanson Cadwalader, known to all as Geri, passed away following a protracted series of complications related to recurrent salivary gland cancer. A loving wife and mother, she leaves behind her husband Robert (known as Bob), and her daughters Erin (Andrew Mashburn) and Brittany, as well as her sister Cathy (Derrick) Warner and her brother Lee (Linda) Swanson. Her beloved parents Harold and Florence Swanson preceded her passing by several decades.
Geri was born in Elgin, IL, the town in which she was raised. She and Bob met while students at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where she earned a degree in education, and they married several years later. During their more than four decades of marriage they spent many years making their homes and building their lives in Chelmsford, MA; Ramsey, NJ; and Glen Ellyn, IL. Following Geri’s retirement from teaching 8th Grade English at Glen Crest Middle School last year, they moved to Tellico Village in Loudon, TN.
Having spent more than twenty years out east, she loved the historic charm of the East Coast, whether antiquing, enjoying a sunny beach, or visiting notable sites in America’s past. However, her heart was always in the Midwest and she was happy to be closer to her extended family when they moved back to Illinois. With each move, Geri made friends for life, finding ways to celebrate each person and make them feel important. She never missed an opportunity to support her family, and she and Bob enthusiastically attended every one of their girls’ sports events, dance recitals, talent shows, concerts, graduations, college move-in days, etc. No matter the event or issue, both the good and the bad, big or small, she was always there with love, encouragement, and sage advice.
Geri enjoyed spending time with her family, friends, and book clubs. She had a myriad of interests including reading and the fine arts; traveling, especially when visiting her daughters in their far-flung locales; dancing, whether it was a spontaneous Snoopy dance or the more formal ballroom classes she and Bob took together; watching the birds at her feeders, particularly the gold finches which were her favorite; and indulging her husband and daughters with their voracious love of the outdoors by boating, hiking, camping, snow and water skiing, and undertaking whatever other adventures were proposed without (much) complaint. A passionate educator and lifelong learner, she loved teaching, working with children as well as her colleagues, and inspiring a love for the written word.
Quick with a joke, a hug, or a silly pose for a picture (a family trait passed down from her mom’s side) she brightened so many of the lives she touched. She will be remembered for her warmth, witty and sometimes wry humor, compassion, and loving disposition. No matter where she lived, she carried those she loved in her heart and we will continue to carry her in ours.
Her family thanks the many already who have reached out with love, fond memories, and support. Due to the pandemic, no immediate public services are planned. However, the family will hold a memorial service sometime in the future when it is safe to congregate and hug again back in the Chicago suburbs. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation in her name to the American Cancer Society or the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Campaign for Illinois. Donations can be made via https://secure.acsevents.org/site/TR/Events/MosaicofHope?pxfid=2548044&fr_id=9910&pg=fund