1936 to 2020

Built his own insurance agency

Jim and Karen

James Alonzo Swick—an ardent athlete who built his own successful health insurance agency—passed away from complications of pneumonia and cardiac arrest, on April 16, 2020, at West Hills Hospital, in West Hills, CA. He was 83.

In the early 1980’s, Jim made a major bet on himself and ventured out on his own to start California Health Insurance. It continued to prosper and grow for 25 years. All that paled alongside his love for his wife of 47 years, Karen, whom he called his best friend.

The first of four children, James Alonzo was born September 10, 1936, to Ronald Swick and Jennifer (Donop) Swick, in Wilson, NY. Growing up, young Jim kept busy on his grandfather Alonzo Swick’s orchard that bordered Lake Ontario. They grew apples, cherries and peaches and sold them at the Buffalo Market.

Excelled at academics and sports

President of his 1954 graduating class at Wilson Central High School, Jim excelled at academics and sports, including football, basketball, baseball, tennis and track. He attended Niagara University before joining the Air Force. Stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, TX, he became a middle-weight boxer and served honorably for four years.

Jim settled in Southern California in the early 1960s, first working in insurance for Metropolitan Life, and then transitioning to an executive sales role with an office products business. But his extensive knowledge of insurance and love of servicing clients won out, motivating him to launch his own company.

Jim’s eight children by his first marriage to Nancy House were grown by the time he met the love of his life, Karen Brown, mother of two boys. He was coaching her son Michael’s first-grade T-Ball team at the time. Athletics a crucial part of his life, Jim coached Little League baseball for years and had always attended all his children’s sporting events.

The Swicks with family in Alaska in 2015.

20 Dodger games a year

Married on May 27, 1972, Jim and Karen lived in a ranch-style home in Woodland Hills. Although he initially ran California Health Insurance out of an office in Westlake, he eventually worked out of his home office. Meticulously organized, Jim insisted on order and kept everything shipshape, including his Alaskan Malamute dogs, whom he adored.


The Swicks traveled extensively, making annual trips to Hawaii to play golf and to Santa Barbara and Solvang to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They regularly visited Jim’s brother Jon in upstate New York during the summer months. Huge Dodger fans, the couple attended at least 20 games a year. They liked to dine out and go to the movies on weekends.

A devoted Catholic and parishioner at St. Mel’s Catholic Church in Woodland Hills, Jim was an equally avid golfer. He watched golf on TV every weekend and was over the moon about taking Karen to the 2001 Masters Tournament in Augusta, GA. He was also addicted to Jeopardy and could beat the pants off anyone at ping pong. His grandchildren were his pride and joy.

A diamond tennis bracelet

He was also extremely generous to Karen at Christmas and birthdays, her favorite gift: a diamond tennis bracelet. Jim’s love for his wife only deepened as they grew older. Unfortunately, Karen suffered a stroke in March of 2020 and is currently residing in a rehabilitation facility in Pasadena.

Predeceased by his parents, son James Swick, Jr. and daughter Susan Birawer, James Alonzo Swick is survived by his wife Karen Swick, sons Todd, Jeffrey and Yeric Swick; daughters Tammy Baker, Kimberly Calleja, and Bridget Sullivan, stepsons Michael James and Shawn James, and sixteen grandchildren.

A funeral service is planned for 2 pm on Saturday, August 28th, at St Mel’s Catholic Church, 20870 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills, CA 91364. In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates donations to The Make-A-Wish Foundation in the name of James Alonzo Swick.


  1. Kathy

    So great getting to know James!

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