S.F. philanthropist Robert Swig of real estate family dies at 39

Philanthropy was so embedded in Robert J. Swig that he would sometimes send a check completely unsolicited.

"Sometimes a check would just arrive," said Rabbi Stephen Pearce of San Francisco's Congregation Emanu-El, where Swig was a member. "It's nice not to have to ask. That was indicative of the kind of person he was."

Swig, who lived in Hillsborough, died Saturday after a brief illness. He was 39.

Part of an active San Francisco philanthropic family, he was the son of the late Melvin Swig and the grandson of Benjamin Swig.

Robert Swig spent his career in the family's hotel business. He was director of the executive committee for the Swig Investment Co. and managed the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco as well as the nationwide Fairmont Hotel Management Co.

He was also a board member of and vice president of the San Francisco 49ers Foundation and the Columbia Park Boys Club.

Phyllis Cook, endowment director and acting executive director of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation, said, "He had a very warm spirit, and cared a great deal about philanthropy. He was always involved with the annual campaign."

Cook remembered that when Swig's aunt, Roselyne "Cissie" Swig, became federation president, he made a special donation.

In his capacity as a hotel manager, she said, "He went out of his way to do anything for the Jewish community."

Marjorie Swig, a cousin, said the family was in shock from his sudden death.

"It was a big surprise to us," she said. "He was a great guy, warm, friendly, caring, compassionate and he will be missed by all of us a lot."

Swig is survived by his wife, Kim Baldwin Swig; their three daughters, Sarah, Leah and Becky Swig; and two brothers, Kent and Steven Swig.

Donations can be sent to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Houston, TX 77030.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."