A many decades long and well respected member of the pipe community, Bob Swanson (maker of Perry White Pipes), died on July 16th after a long and courageous battle with Parkinson’s Disease. I was one of many fans of Bob, not only because he made great smoking pipes, but also because he was such a great person. Always humble, and always one to say exactly what was on his mind – but only if asked. Otherwise, he was a very quiet individual who was always available to answer questions about pipes and pipe making. There are an untold number of really fine pipe makers around the world who will tell you how helpful Bob would be when asked to help them become better pipe makers.
Bob Swanson knew how to make a pipe! His shapes always tended toward the classics, but with his own special touches. He could make smooth and sandblasted pipes with equal aplomb, and his engineering techniques combined with only the best briar he could find, always made Bob’s pipes terrific smokers. This is a picture of a Perry White Pipe (his brand’s name), that Bob made especially for me five or six years ago when I told him I wanted a Canadian style pipe with perhaps a slightly stack bowl. He even stamped my initials on the nomenclature. And yes, it smokes beautifully. I will think fondly of the maker every time I light it up, which is quite often!
One of the pipe shows that I attend regularly is the West Coast Pipe Show in Las Vegas. I am always one of the show sponsors and donate pipes, tobaccos, etc, to support the show. Bob Swanson was the man who donated a great deal of his time to solicit raffle items for the show to help support it’s financial needs. At the 2016 West Coast Pipe Show, Bob called me over to his table to look over his new line of what he called his “Robert Rose” pipes. They were all tan blasted and large with amazing blasts. He casually asked me which pipe I thought was the best. After looking all of them over very carefully, I pointed at the one shown in this photo and said I thought it was the best. Well, on the last day of the show, Bob and show organizer Steve O’Niel came up to my table with a big surprise. Bob handed me the Robert Rose pipe that I had pointed to as the best the day before. It was a gift for my small efforts over the years to support the show with my donations. Bob Swanson, among his many attributes, was also a very generous man!
I wish that I could put into words what describes Bob Swanson. But Bob did me one better. On his website he has a beautifully written Mission Statement that describes himself much better than I ever could. If you want to learn more about Bob Swanson and his spectacular Perry White & Robert Rose line of pipes, just follow this link: http://perrywhitepipes.com/thepipemaker.html
My thoughts and prayers go out to his sweet wife, Rose, and the rest of the Swanson family. Heaven picked up a really good man on July 16, 2020.