A man of many talents: Remembering the life and legacy of AJ Swope, five years later
AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Five years after his death, friends fondly remember AJ Swope as a husband, a son and a man of many talents who gave his all.
"AJ was great as a musician," said friend, Craig Vaughn. "That's one of the parts that always makes me sad is when we play his music is that we didn't get more."
"Whenever he decided to do something, he was going to give it 110 percent," said former professor and friend, Randy Ray. "That's the way it was when he was a broadcaster, that's the way it was when he was working with wind energy, and that certainly was the way it was when he was working with music.
A graduate of West Texas A&M University, Swope went on to work in broadcasting as a reporter, anchor and assignments editor. An advocate for wind energy, he then became the executive director at Class 4 Winds. As his friends recall, his music career was also taking off with his band AJ Swope and the Last Train Home.
"When he was here with us, it was very clear he was a unique, different guy, head and shoulders above the rest of us," said Wes Reeves, a friend and chairman of Friends of AJ Swope.
However, in January 2013, Swope's life was tragically cut short in a crash at the age of 27.
"Losing him was tough. Losing him was really tough. I'll never forget, I was standing in the hallway near WT and one of my coworkers came up and said 'have you heard about AJ' and I said 'what are you talking about' and then they told me about the tragedy," said Ray. "The first thought I had was how sad it is that he's never going to be a father because I think he would've made an excellent father.
Now, his memory will live on, with friends planning the AJ Swope Plaza, a multi-million dollar venue to be placed near the MPEV downtown, complete with an amphitheater, Panhandle Walk of Fame and First Responders Memorial.
"I believe AJ would really be happy about that because he had sort of adopted Amarillo as his hometown and was a strong booster and supporter of downtown development, so it just really fit nicely," said Reeves.
The plaza is a fitting memorial that will serve the public for years to come.
"AJ was the kind of person that always gave back to the community so when I see something like the plaza come up, I think that is a perfect reminder of the kind of person that he was," said Ray.
The plaza will include a stage for other musicians to perform on, keeping Swope's love of music and his legacy alive.
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