Obituary: James Chase Swainson, 55
March 9, 2023
James Chase Swainson was born on August 27, 1967 in Ellensburg, Washington to Jim Swainson and Susan Goettlicher. James split his time living between both parents – traveling between Alaskan towns to live with his dad Jimmy and stepmom Sparky in Petersburg, with his mother Susan and stepfather Tom Larson in Sitka, and later with his mother and stepfather Mark Goettlicher in Anchorage.
After graduating from East High School in Anchorage, James moved to Seattle and lived in the University District and on Capitol Hill. During this time he fished during the summers in Alaska and lived a carefree lifestyle traveling around the country following the Grateful Dead. He moved to Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California where he began focusing on his painting skills. James was an avid journaler and wrote almost everyday in a diary. His journals were full of art and poetry detailing his daily life.
James met Janet Margot in Seattle and they married and moved to Brooklyn where he attended the Parsons School of Design. With Janet's help James was able to overcome dyslexia and graduate as valedictorian of his class with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Living in New York City was a vibrant time in James' life as he flourished in the New York art scene. James and Janet traveled extensively through North Africa and Eastern Europe. On October 11, 2001 their daughter Samantha Exene was born. Samantha is currently studying journalism in Rome, Italy. He lived in San Francisco during the 1989 earthquake and in New York City during 9-11.
Around 2004, James moved to Seattle where he met Erin Carnahan and her 3 children Madalyn, Joceline, and Devlin. On March 3, 2009, they welcomed baby girl Darby Ann Mary into the world. The family took full advantage of the many activities that Seattle had to offer and enjoyed camping together, taking trips to Arizona, and long drives to explore new places.
James was close with his brothers and sisters Jessica, Dylan, Shiloh and Jacob, taking special care to broaden his sibling's horizons with big city adventures. He was always up for a walk no matter the weather or time of day. James had the gift of gab and was full of stories. James appreciated tattoo art and had many himself. When Jacob was fifteen he visited James in Brooklyn and James gave him his first tattoo, making him the youngest kid in school with a tattoo. That was the kind of big brother he was – always ready to have fun and break some rules.
James was diagnosed with Signet Ring Cell stomach cancer in February 2022 and on July 19, 2022 James married Erin at home with a beautiful outdoor wedding officiated by his Uncle Billy Swainson.
James outlived the doctor's expectations by many months and he left us on February 20, 2023 dying at home surrounded by his beloved books, art, cats and family.
He will always be remembered for his great laugh, his quirky sense of humor, his love of family and his joy of art, poetry and reading. He will be deeply missed.
James is survived by his parents Susan Goettlicher (Mark), Jimmy Swainson (Mary Ellen); step parents Sparky Swainson and Tom Larson; brothers Dylan Swainson and Jacob Goettlicher (Cait); sisters Jessica Ieremia (Joe), Shiloh Swainson McNalley (Steve); his children Samantha, Madalyn, Joceline, Devlin, and Darby; his niece Jasmine Ieremia; his nephews Tausani Ieremia, Kai Swainson and Ethan Goettlicher; his grandmother Mary Ann Brain and his many aunts, uncles and cousins.