Orvil Wilson Swarts was born March 2, 1906 in Omaha, Arkansas, to Samuel W. and Cecelia J. Mahnkey Swarts. He had two brothers and four sisters. Samuel and Cecelia moved their family to Shasta County in 1907. The family first settled in Kennett (which is now under Shasta Lake.) Samuel worked in one of the four large copper smelters in Coram. In 1910 they moved to Redding, and lived on the corner of Gold and California Streets. Orvil and his brother Richard had many chores to do; one was to take their little wagon and go out Placer Street to Jackson Flat (Now Benton Airport) and gather firewood.

Orvil attended Redding Elementary and the old Shasta High School which was on the corner of Placer and West Streets. When he was a senior in high school, while playing on the football team, he injured his leg. This was before Redding had ambulances and he tried to walk to his home on the corner of Gold and California Streets. He collapsed in front of the post office and was taken to St. Caroline's Hospital (became Mercy Hospital in 1944) on Pine Street. He spent the next 16 months in the Hospital with a bone infection in his left leg. Orvil had a stiff leg the rest of his life. In 1924 the high school did not print a Shasta Daisy; they donated the funds to help pay for Orvil's hospital bills. Orvil finished high school and graduated on June 11, 1925.

Orvil married Regina Chatham Wright on June 6, 1935. Regina's children, Ray and Myrna, took the name Swarts and Orvil became their father. Orvil and Regina had two more children:
Lyda & Orvil .

Orvil worked seven years in a sporting goods store, as manager of the Roosevelt Club and Coffee Shop on Placer Street, and the Riggers Club on Placer Street behind the old Woolsworth's store. In 1945 Orvil, Victor Bull, and John Diestlehorst decided to open a sporting goods store. It was not easy to start a new business, so they opened their store in Vic's garage. After six months they moved to 1261 Market Street where the Shasta Cascade Sporting Goods stayed for many years. When 1-5 came through business wasn't as profitable so the store was closed in about 1968.

During World War II Orvil put in many hours after work in the Warning Corps, they spotted airplanes flying over Redding. In the 40s Orvil was President of Northern California Baseball League. He and Regina ran the concession stand at Tiger Field. The name of the local team was the Redding Tigers. Orvil was elected to the Redding City Council on April 10, 1946. He was elected mayor of Redding in 1948 and was mayor during the California Centennial in 1949/1950. He worked with Chris Kutras to organize more recreational areas in Redding. The river was too cold for swimming after the dam was completed. Kutras finally decided to let the city lease the land on what is now Park Marina for no charge. Later the plunge was built and Orvil dedicated it in 1950.

Orvil was an avid outdoorsman, fishing and hunting whenever he had time. He spent time with his children and grandchildren, teaching them to fish and hunt safely and to respect the outdoors. Each fall the family would go on their annual hunting and camping trip to Modoc County. Orvil passed away at his home on Placer Street on August 23, 1983.

Source: Shasta Historical Society - May, 2004

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