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MIKE CONLON, San Clemente

After teaching 37 years at San Clemente High School, in my retirement speech, I said that the person who held our school together for that span of time was not the principal, not the department chair, but the school secretary.

Many administrators came and went. We had and needed only two secretaries during my entire career.

Fred Swegles is that secretary for our city. Councilmembers, mayors, police chiefs come and go. Fred has always been faithfully here. One reporter, one town. 

When a newbie softball coach’s team won an epic upset playoff in El Cajon in the 1970s (Mary Johnson Mulligan in left field), I called from the nearest pay phone to the Sun Post. Fred took my call and celebrated our victory in the next edition. 

A couple decades later, when the dance team faculty advisor heard the announcement, nearly at midnight, that the team had earned an unprecedented runner-up Grand Championship, Fred took my call and wrote up that celebration as well.

Whether it was one of our heavyweight surfers, a McPhillips or the Smith twins or Gudauskas or Beschen, or just an up-and-coming grom, Fred was there, recording it all for the sport he loved the best. 

From trips reporting on our sister cities in South America to having pad and pen out at every City Council meeting, Fred ate and breathed all that the Spanish Village by the Sea could offer.  He spent his most recent years catching all the newcomers up on what he witnessed over the last 40 years, and more.

I was so saddened to hear recently of his diagnosis and hope for a miraculous recovery. But I don’t think I have to pray for his peace of mind and heart. When you are able to live and write about the place you love, and share that love with all around you, I can’t think of a better life well-lived.

Fred, you’re the best. Thanks for all you have done, and do.

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