It is rare that this newspaper writes about the death of more than one person at a time, but the simultaneous deaths of the Swinton triplets, Hamish, Woody, and Peter, seems to require a single obituary. They died on Wednesday when the house where they took shelter collapsed during hurricane Lupi. The brothers were 90 years old.
The story of the Swinton brothers has been told and retold many times over the years as a rags to riches tale, from pig farmers to real estate moguls. In fact, the brothers were born into substantial wealth as part of the Swinton pork empire. The brothers did not go into the family business, however. They went into business together as real estate developers, building numerous tracks of homes along the coast before WWII. It was during this time that their conservative political views emerged and they began to dabble in politics. They were the single largest contributor to the presidential campaign of Republican Alf Landon in 1936 and one of the largest contributors to the republican Wendell Willkie in 1940.
Although they contributed to Republican Thomas Dewey’s campaign in 1944, the Swinton brothers began to focus more on state and congressional campaigns. They anticipated the housing boom that would follow the war and in the late 1950’s each of the brothers became billionaires. It is generally accepted that their financial involvement in politics was unprecedented. When they retired from operations oversight of their many business interests in the 1970’s they increased their involvement in politics.
Still vigorous and monitoring company activities, the brothers were on a tour of new properties along with their chauffeur when they ignored warnings about hurricane Lupi. They took shelter in a model brick home, but the structure collapsed, killing all three brothers. Their chauffer survived.
Lifelong bachelors, the brothers are survived only by several distant cousins.