David Culver Swanston, 64; Public Relations Executive

Friday, June 9, 2006

David Culver Swanston, 64, an award-winning public relations executive, died of cancer June 4 at Capital Hospice in Arlington. He was a resident of McLean.

Mr. Swanston was born in Denver and grew up in Pueblo, Colo. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1962 to 1964, working as a high school teacher in the Republic of Liberia before attending San Francisco State College.

He worked as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle from 1966 to 1969, covering higher education, Vietnam War protests, political campaigns and local politics. Afterwards, he began a career of public service and public relations.

Mr. Swanston moved to Washington, and from 1969 to 1971 managed public information for Peace Corps programs throughout Asia and the Middle East.

In 1972, he became special assistant to and speechwriter for Sen. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.).

He worked for two years as a manager of program publicity to help launch the new Public Broadcasting Service in the early 1970s. In 1974 he opened his own public relations firm, David Swanston and Associates Inc. In 1984, TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications, a global human resources and communications firm based in Tysons Corner, purchased his firm.

As managing director of public relations, Mr. Swanston established and directed a multi-office public relations division that provided services for U.S. and international clients. They included the Consumer Electronics Association, Howard University, SuperComm, Apple Computer, MCI, Boeing and the U.S. Department of Labor. He retired in 2005.

During his career, Mr. Swanston earned five Silver Anvil Awards, the highest award given annually by the Public Relations Society of America, for "successfully addressing a contemporary issue with exemplary professional skill, creativity and resourcefulness."

He served two terms as president of the National Capital Public Relations Society of America, served on the board of directors and helped to write the public relations society's ethics policy.

He was elected to the National Capital Public Relations Society Hall of Fame in 1995.

For the last 10 years, Mr. Swanston taught public relations and ethics classes at American University and the University of Virginia Northern Virginia Center.

He competed in five Marine Corps marathons, beginning in 1990. For more than 20 years, he rode in the Colorado 500 Invitational Charity Dirt Bike Ride, a 500-mile, off-road ride across the Colorado Rockies to raise money for local Colorado charities.

Survivors include his wife, Walterene "Walt" Swanston of McLean; two children, Matthew C. Swanston of Arlington and Rachel A. Breegle of Brambleton, Va.; and three grandchildren.

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