Mary Howard Davidson Swift (1926-2022)


What a grand life she lived — Mary Howard Davidson Swift, arts scene maven, champion horsewoman, photographer, curator, journalist and mother — died April 24 at the age of 95, surrounded by family. The cause of death, complications from dementia.

Swift was a truthteller and straightshooter, said her family, alienating for some, treasured by others. She was a Georgetown native, who loved to travel with her husband Carleton Byron Swift until their divorce in 1968. After 18 years of marriage and being a single mother to four children, she reinvented herself, throwing her passion into all things arts. She graduated with a master’s degree in Drama from Catholic University in 1968 and from Georgetown Washington University in 1978.

Swift served in various roles for The Washington Review, Women’s Committee at the Corcoran and even for The Georgetowner. She curated or co-curated over 50 exhibits. More recently, her significant collection of D.C. artists’ work was gifted to the Katzen Arts Center at American University.

In addition to art, Swift had a lifelong love of horses, including her 1987 North American Hunter Championship winner “Race Track Harry.” A memorial service will be held for Swift at the Trinity Church in Upperville, Virginia on Saturday June 25. If you wish to honor her memory, she was an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood.

Swift is preceded in death by her daughter Lila, who died at the age of 13 in a plane crash in 1973. Swift’s brother Stuart Davidson, who died in 2001, was an investment banker turned restaurateur (Clyde’s of Georgetown, Old Ebbitt Grill). Swift is survived by her daughter Isabel, sons Byron and Bill, a sister, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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