Dave Swearingen, former AP chief of bureau, dies at 73

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GREENFIELD, Ind. (AP) — Dave Swearingen, a former Associated Press bureau chief who led coverage of Indiana's first execution in more than two decades and the arrests of more than 1,000 demonstrators at the Seabrook nuclear power plant in New Hampshire, has died at age 73.

Swearingen died Aug. 1 in Greenfield, Indiana, after a recent bout of pneumonia caused his health to fail, his family said.

The Bath, Maine, native's journalism career spanned four decades with stints as chief of bureau in Concord, New Hampshire, and in Indianapolis.

He began working as a part-time newspaper photographer while in high school and worked at several newspapers in Maine before taking his first job with the AP in Augusta, the state capital.

Swearingen went from a temporary assignment in 1968 to correspondent before becoming regional bureau chief in Concord, New Hampshire, in 1974, overseeing news in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. Four years later, he was appointed bureau chief in Indianapolis, overseeing operations in Indiana and Missouri.

Swearingen led coverage of a number of important stories. In Maine, he covered the creation of the state income tax; in New Hampshire, he led coverage of stories including the Seabrook protests; in Indiana, he oversaw reporting on four Indianapolis 500 races and the first execution in two decades.

Tim Swearingen, one of his sons, described his father as an "old-school newsman" who wanted to present the facts with precision and let readers draw their own conclusions.

His father didn't want a funeral and requested that his ashes be spread in Maine. If there's a marker, he wanted it to say, "newsman," his son said.

After leaving the AP, Swearingen returned to New England to serve as managing editor of The Standard Times in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and then editor of The Times Record in Brunswick, Maine.

He later worked on several technology projects for the AP before becoming a software consultant and weekly newspaper editor, retiring in 2004 because of declining health.

Swearingen was a proud product of Bath, Maine, where his father was fire chief and where Swearingen once drove the city ambulance. He was active in organizations, including the local Elks lodge, and he was a freemason. He served as a lay minister with Grace Episcopal Church.

Swearingen, who was survived by three sons and a daughter, moved eight years ago to Indiana to be closer to several of his children. He died at a nursing home.

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