June 23, 2019 Dr. Gary Paul Swank, 53, of Roanoke County, Va., died on Sunday, June 23, 2019 in Belize, while doing what he loved best: fly fishing on family vacation. He was born in Washington, D.C., and grew up in Greenbelt, Md., the son of Anne and Bruce Swank. Gary was adored by his family and respected by his colleagues. He knew he had only one life to live, and he made it count. Everything Gary did was an adventure. His 'Old Greenbelt Friends,' fly-fishing friends and the staff at Carilion's Cardiovascular Institute knew Gary as quiet, unassuming and calm. In his family, he was famous for turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Whether it was a fishing trip with his children to the "dirty pond" in Roanoke or inventing the greatest bed-time stories of all time for them, Gary made each moment with his family special. Hiking, canoeing, and fishing were regular occurrences in the Swank household. In recent years, Gary taught the whole family how to snorkel and ski. In quieter moments, you might find him tending his vegetable garden. Above all else, finding the latest and greatest restaurant with Tammy, shooting baskets or camping with Ty, driving Gretchen to and from her dance practices, and teaching Tiffany crazy dives into the swimming pool were the day-to-day joys of his life. Gary earned his bachelor's degree from University of Maryland, College Park in 1990 and obtained his post-baccalaureate from Hahnemann University three years later. He remained a devout Terps basketball fan throughout his life. He went on to graduate with a medical degree from St. Georges University School of Medicine in Grenada in 1997. He did his internal medicine residency at West Virginia University Hospital and later completed two cardiovascular fellowship programs there. He held board certifications in interventional cardiology, cardiovascular medicine and internal medicine. An incredibly driven person, Gary spent his life as a physician, mentor and caregiver to many. He served nearly two decades as a member of both the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology. Gary worked in private practice for seven years with Cardiology Associates of Virginia before joining Carilion Clinic in Roanoke in 2011 as an interventional cardiologist. He served as medical director of Carilion's Cardiac Catheterization Lab and had recently been promoted to associate professor of internal medicine at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. His work touched the lives of many people throughout the community. As a doctor, Gary was known for his calming presence, keeping his cool even in the most stressful situations. His colleagues would often find him staying late at work to talk to patients over the phone and visiting their bedside to put them at ease. He was obsessive about giving his patients the best health care possible and would spend hours poring over medical literature to keep up with the latest changes. His demeanor and work ethic led to many loyal patients who will miss him dearly. Gary is survived by his beloved wife Tammy of 19 years; his three children, Tiffany, Gretchen, and Ty; his mother Anne Swank of Princeton, N.J.; his father Bruce Swank of Silver Spring, Md.; his mother-in-law, Carolyn Gannon of Roanoke Va.; brothers, Martin (Colleen) of Mt. Airy, Md. and Darrin (Jodi) of Loxahatchee, Fla.; sister Melanie Wilhelm (Andrew) of Princeton Junction, N.J., and his many nieces and nephews. A memorial service celebrating his life will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 2, 2019 at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church on Brambleton Avenue. Visitation with the family begins at 6 p.m. Gifts to support a scholarship fund for the Swank children can be sent to any American National Bank branch, Attention: Swank Children Scholarship Fund. In those moments when time was short, Gary would tell his family: You've got one round. Make it good. That's how he lived his life.
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