May 10 – Happy Birthday Lou Swierzowski

swiz222The first thing I remember about today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant is what a superb athlete he was as a kid. Lou Swierzowski was born on May 10, 1954, the son of Rocky and Cathy Carbone Swierzowski. He grew up with his two sisters on Swan Street. He was a solid three sport star for Bishop Scully  back in the day. He was also a Coach’s dream for Dutch Howlan because you could put him at any position in any sport and he’d handle it just fine. In football he played quarterback, ran the ball and was an excellent defensive back too. He was an outstanding pitcher for Scully’s baseball program, an excellent hitter with good power and he could also catch or play just about anywhere in the infield. He was a smart basketball player too, who could drive to the basket with the best of them and play tough tenacious defense. The other thing I clearly recall about Lou was how cleanly he competed. Don’t get me wrong, he played everything tough and hard and wanted to beat you bad but he was not a showoff or whiner and I always admired that about him. When he graduated from high school in 1972 he went up to Plattsburgh and played football and got his degree.

Professionally, he ended up getting hired by WNYT Channel 13 in Albany, NY and during the next four decades put together a solid career as a cameraman for that station’s newscasts. In that role he joined Kirk Douglas, Chris Marcil and Jessica Capogna Collins as Amsterdam residents who have garnered an Emmy nomination. Lou received his for his work with reporter/writer Benita Zahn on a 2010 story about a life-threatening skin condition known as Stevens-Johnson syndrome. In 1988, Lou also gained some notoriety covering a police pursuit of a man who just before Thanksgiving that year, stole a pickup truck filled with turkeys that were destined for the area’s needy families. After a long chase, the man ditched the truck and ran into the woods with both police and Lou running after him. Suddenly, shots rang out as local authorities began shooting at the guy. Lou captured it all, including the man’s apprehension and his footage became the basis for subsequent stories about the use of excessive force by law enforcement officials.

A couple years ago, WNYT reporter Kumi Tucker came to Amsterdam to do a story on the opening of Liberty Fresh Market and I was one of the people she interviewed. The first thing she asked was if any of us knew Lou. She told us that all of the station’s reporters loved working with him. He was admired and respected by the stations’ behind the camera staff as well. They elected Lou as their Union spokesman.

When Lou wasn’t bringing Capitol District viewers pictures of what was happening in their area he was home with his wife Dian and their three (now adult) children. Sadly, Dian Swierzowski passed away in April of 2011, after a valiant struggle with breast cancer.

Lou is now retired from WNYT. Though I don’t know him that well I can pretty much guarantee that whatever he has decided to do during his retirement years he has handled the transition to that new role just like he used to switch positions for Dutch during his Scully days; no problem!

 

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