Our most sincere condolences to Alvin's immediate family and many friends.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 17, at St. John's United Methodist Church, 1207 Peabody Ave Memphis, TN.
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Alvin Louis Swiney
Alvin Louis Swiney, age 61, passed away suddenly on Monday, November 13, 2017 from a cardiomyopathy at Methodist Hospital, Germantown, TN. Alvin was born on October 15, 1956, in Memphis, TN. He was a graduate of Southside High School, where he was a dedicated band member under the direction of his friend and mentor, James "Jimmy" Keyes. During that time, Alvin studied piano at the Myrtle Tyus School of Music. He learned to repair musical instruments in high school, and worked in the AMRO Music Store repair department. Alvin received an instrument repair scholarship to LSU School of Music in Baton Rouge, LA, where he was a bassoonist in the symphony. After college, Alvin apprenticed with world renowned woodwind artisan, Hans Moennig, in instrument customization and repair in Philadelphia, PA.
Upon returning to Memphis, Alvin opened his first repair business, Swiney's Music Shop in the basement of his home on Parkway. During this time he joined the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, where he was a contrabassoonist for 13 years. Soon after, Alvin and Jimmy Keyes opened The Woodwind Clinic on Walker Avenue, where they partnered for many years. Alvin was a specialist in oboe and bassoon tuning, customization and repair, and came to be a known expert by symphonic oboists and bassoonists in many orchestras in the US and abroad. He was a member of the International Double Reed Society, and gave multiple lectures at conventions and schools of music, such as Julliard, along with writing many articles.
Combining his expertise and hobby, Alvin later opened AAA Affordable Music & Magic on Barksdale, specializing in oboe repair. He was also a long time practicer and appreciator of the art of magic, and therefore made it a point to sell magic tricks at his store. He also performed magic at private parties for kids and adults, and frequently gave away magic tricks to children who came in the shop.
In 2014, Alvin retired from Sam Ash Music in Richmond, VA, where he resided for several years, and returned to Memphis. Although basically retired, Alvin occasionally continued repair work for selected clients, and almost everyday communicated online with musicians around the world about acoustics, tuning and repair.
Alvin never forgot where he came from and had a passion for giving back to the community in which he grew up. This included the elderly, homeless, and less fortunate. He truly loved Memphis and its history, and used his vast knowledge to teach others about the history of the mid-South - especially regarding civil rights. Alvin's favorite hobbies included writing, photography, fishing and yearbook collecting. He loved to entertain and make people laugh with magic tricks, jokes, rap songs, and funny stories. Always wearing a smile, he was determined to put one on everyone else's face.
He is survived by his wife Dr. Sarah J. Fitch, daughter April Swiney, sisters Deborah and Pamela Swiney, nephews Grant Gray and Larry Tate, and a host of other relatives and loved ones. He is preceded in death by parents Albert and Ida Swiney.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 17, at St. John's United Methodist Church, 1207 Peabody Ave.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in memory of Alvin can be made to the following: Alvin Swiney Memorial Children's Fund at St. John's United Methodist Church, MIFA, The Mid-South Food Bank.
Published in The Commercial Appeal on Nov. 16, 2017