Bessie Roberts Minor was born on June 29, 1887 in Onaga, Pottowatomie County, Kansas. She was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and then moved to Blackburn, Missouri where she taught school in a one room schoolhouse. She married Dean Edwin Swift on October 12, 1910 in Chicago, Illinois.
They had three boys, Dean Edwin Swift, Harry Minor Swift and Philip Eugene Swift. Dean died in the Philippines in 1946, Harry passed away in March of 2010 and Phil died in November of 2019. Although neither Bessie nor her husband had formal education past high school, each of their sons completed college. Phil recalled that the importance of education was reinforced throughout his upbringing not so much through statements or concrete expectations, but more through the example of his mother’s interest in English, reading, history and music.
Bessie Minor Swift passed away on May 5, 1972 in Napa, California and is buried next to her husband at the Blackburn Cemetery in Blackburn, Missouri.