“Marcus and Paul, you are a deal.” Those that know Phyllis have heard this phrase fall effortlessly from her lips in all different variations. Inevitably, someone always asks, “What is a deal?” With a side smile and a giggle, there was never an explanation.
Dr. Phyllis Gwendolyn Elizondo Swift, age 69, died suddenly on May 27, 2020. She was born on March 20, 1951, in La Oroya, Peru to Peggy and Joseph Elizondo. Her father, who graduated from Berkeley, was a geologist and mining engineer who managed mines ensuring safety for the employees, the environment, and increased effectiveness of the mine itself. Her mother, who graduated from Oregon State University, was a teacher and homemaker caring for their children: Brian, Phyllis, and Susan. Education was a value in the Elizondo household and her parents were her greatest role models. Like them, Phyllis passionately pursued a life dedicated to the service of others in her future work and home life.
Phyllis completed her Bachelor of Science in nursing in 1974 at the University of Colorado. While working as a nurse, she began her family with Frank Caldwell on May 26, 1973, and became a mother with her sons Marcus Caldwell and Paul Caldwell. She received her Master of Science in nursing in 1982 at the University of Missouri Columbia. Phyllis practiced nursing at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Hannibal, Missouri from 1975 to the summer of 1988 and was the Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) during the final five years.
She married Ed Swift on July 27, 1988, in Santa Maria, California; she welcomed his children Stephanie, Jeff, and Ryan into her growing family. While in Santa Maria, Phyllis served the local community as an ER nurse at Marion Medical Center. In the mid-90s, Phyllis pivoted to nursing education at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Phyllis, never one to settle for being an “okay” nurse, kept achieving more skills to increase her nursing abilities. She completed her education as a Nurse Practitioner at Marshall University, West Virginia in 1999, and in one of her most proud achievements, she received her Doctor of Nursing Practice at George Wa(r)shington University, DC in 2010.
Most recently, she served as a Professor of Nursing at Dixie State University and as a family nurse practitioner for the Intermountain Healthcare system. Here she gave back to the students what teachers had given to her throughout her illustrative nursing career. Her time as a nurse shaped who she was as a wife, mother, and teacher — a giver of small acts of grace, born from great knowledge, skill, wisdom.
Phyllis, a devout Catholic, lived her life according to the words of Mother Teresa, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” She was not interested in the publicness of her acts, but in the authenticity of each small moment she shared with a patient, student, and her children and grandchildren. And what we came to realize, in memorializing her life, is that she was always “the deal.” Funny, playful, serious, intelligent, beautiful, kind, compassionate, devout, loyal, loving, and fiery — she was everything one could ask for in a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, teacher, and nurse — she is, and always will be, “the deal.”
The family wishes you memorialize Phyllis by making donations to Dixie State University’s new Nursing Department, Dr. Phyllis Swift Scholarship, in one of the following ways:
- Mail a check made out to Dixie State University, 225 S. University Avenue, St. George, Utah 84770, indicating you would like to donate to the Dr. Phyllis Swift Scholarship.
- Visit https://giving.dixie.edu then:
- Scroll down to the Make a Difference – Give Now header
- Indicate the donation amount
- Under the I’d like to Support header click on Specific Scholarship
- Then designate the Dr. Phyllis Swift scholarship in the “Please Specify” box.
- Next, complete the Here’s My Information section
- Last, click the Make Payment button.
Funeral Mass will be held Saturday, June 13, 2020, at 2 p.m. at the St. George Catholic Church, 259 W. 200 North, St. George, Utah. A gathering for family and friends will be held Saturday, prior to services, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at Metcalf Mortuary, 288 W. St. George Blvd., St. George, Utah.
Arrangements entrusted to the care of Metcalf Mortuary, (435) 673-4221. Please visit our website at www.metcalfmortuary.com for condolences, complete obituary, and funeral listings.