Lauren Keys Swinney

February 25, 1923 ~ July 1, 2020 (age 97)


Lauren believed in charity and compassion.  She saw good in people and encouraged the creative spirit.  Her deeds and actions reflected her belief in the sanctity and dignity of all. She was a privately practicing Catholic, totally devoted to a loving God. She treated all with respect and compassion in the spirit of unification.

Lauren was born in LaSalle, Illinois on February 25, 1923.  She attended Catholic Boarding schools in her youth receiving a scholarship at Crawford Manor, an exclusive boarding school for young ladies in Wisconsin where she won a national poetry contest. After high school, she patriotically worked at the Carnegie Illinois Steel Corporation Mill during the war years, while attending Gary Junior College at night. The nearby Golden Nugget was a favorite spot that served coffee, Cokes, donuts, and a dance or two with chivalrous young service men. Much of her young life is revealed in an interview for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana,

Lauren started in radio on WJKS at the age of 4 in Gary, In. She went on to be a Producer/Director/Actor/Newscaster on WIND (Gary), WLRN (Miami) and WAVV/WCVU/WHEW & WIXI (Naples). She wrote commercials, documentary scripts, columns for neighborhood newspapers in Alameda, Ca., Atlanta, Ga., Kendall, Fl. and New Orleans, La.  She always longed to be an actor and attended Northwestern School of Speech, obtaining her B.B.S. and M.A. alongside Paul Lynde, Charlotte Raye, Charlton Heston and Lydia Clarke. Her loving parents encouraged a non-acting career path because of the Hollywood reputation of the 1940s.  She became a speech therapist, a Dean of Massey Jr. College in Atlanta, Ga.; a Miami Dade County School teacher at Riverside and Shenandoah Elementary schools; taught English (ESOL) to many Cuban exiles in the 1960s and early 1970s; produced an Emmy Award winning weekly television show called Volunteers In-Sight for the Dade County School System; and was a Professor at  Miami International Fine Arts Institute.  She loved to travel and experience unfamiliar cultures. She retired to Naples, Fl. and eventually moved to New Orleans to pursue her acting career.  She wrote her memoir, Je Suis Une Parapluie in 2011.  In New Orleans, she acted in a dozen or more T.V. and motion pictures as mentioned in a New Orleans  local publication “ViaNolaVie”:

Lauren Swinney passed on July 1, 2020 after an entertaining repartee with the nurses at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Fl.  Her daughter Penny and son-in-law James were bedside, and the voices of many loved ones surrounded her before her spirit and soul embarked on their final voyage. Rest in peace beloved mother, friend, confidant, teacher, role model, writer, actor, entertainer, and smile charmer. You are within our hearts forever. Rest in Peace.

Lauren is preceded in death by her parents, Felix Walter Kotowski and Agnes Piekarski; her husbands, Donald Vento and Jack Swinney, daughter Holly Bernheisel and great granddaughter Mary Ann Padgett.  She is survived by son Kam Vento (Diane), daughters Darcy Hall and Aurélie Anthony (James), son Thomas Swinney (Mary), grandchildren James A. Anthony, John W. Anthony, Jessica Anderson (Chris), Tiffany Swinney, Kelly Talamantes, Sean McCory (Marsha Dolberg), James Hall, Jennifer Padgett, Michael Padgett, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.

 Visit Lauren’s memorial website here:

In her later years, macular degeneration took Lauren’s eyesight.  NPR News was her sightline to the world.  In lieu of flowers, please donate to WUSF in honor of Lauren Swinney: 


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