Mayor Nelson Santos, editor of the Kingsville Reporter from 1991-2020, shares his thoughts on friend and former colleague, columnist Leah Swaddling. The Kingsville Reporter was the community newspaper for 144 years until it was closed in 2020, its last edition published on May 4 of that year.
It’s definitely a sad day for Kingsville. We lost a most genuine and caring spirit this week.
I will truly miss her.
At the paper, her “Social News by Leah” corner was arguably the most coveted piece of real estate in the Kingsville Reporter each week.
I recall her driving into the Reporter parking lot every Monday to personally drop off her hand written column. It was a routine we all enjoyed at the office to see her and hear her laugh each week. “Here you go, kiddo” … always sure to get that in my hands.
There was one time in 25 years that we didn’t run her column because I hadn’t received her masterpiece. I remember it very well. The first set of calls I received from subscribers was “Where is Leah’s column?” and “What happened to Leah?” The calls kept coming all week! There was no question how beloved our Leah was.
I came to find out within that week, that Leah had indeed dropped off her written column as per routine with someone at the office, but the employee who accepted the letter forgot about it and did not bring it to my desk as per usual.
Long story short, Leah never left her weekly report with that individual again!! And the Reporter’s world would be back in step the very next edition and beyond.
I also had the pleasure of seeing my co-worker Leah perform many a time as a member of the Happy Acres Band. From special events, festivals, jam sessions and concerts, you could just sense how much music influenced Leah’s unmistakable smile and her life.
She led an incredible life and served as a wonderful example and community idol … more like icon.
~ Nelson Santos
Leah Swaddling passed on March 8, 2022. She was 97.
Leah’s photo courtesy of the Swaddling family.
News clippings courtesy of the Kingsville Reporter