Patrick A. Swindell, Texas Tech ’76, has a long list of titles on his résumé: lawyer, husband, father, grandfather, philanthropist, jazz musician, and entrepreneur. Two of those accomplishments are long-held dreams. He wanted to be a lawyer in fourth grade after seeing an episode of Perry Mason and his love for music began in fifth grade when he learned how to play the cornet.
After receiving his JD, he began practicing law, performing in a band, and trying his hand out in various business projects and philanthropy. This came to a halt in the early 1990s when he had a medical emergency. He needed to have two craniotomies: a surgical operation in which a bone flap is temporarily removed from the skull to access the brain. These operations resulted in seizures and language impairment and took three hard years of therapy and medical care to recover.
It was during these years of recovery that he had an idea to create a school to provide both a competitive as well as unique opportunity. He spent over seven years researching, planning, fundraising, and developing Ascension Academy. “What I wanted for all of those students is what I felt was important that we were adding to our kids’ education,” he said. “What I wanted was a curriculum that was well-rounded. What became STEM is STEAM for us,” he shared with the Amarillo Globe-News.
Not only does he value the traditional STEM offerings of science, technology, engineering, and math but also the arts. The school opened in 2000 and the number of students enrolled exceed both private and public schools between Dallas and Denver. Their focus as a preparatory school is to provide the students with the knowledge to not only get into college but to also be successful while at university.
Beginning in 1999, he opened six bankruptcy offices throughout Texas including in Amarillo, Wichita Falls, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Houston. He recently just sold the office two years ago, but he ran them for over a decade.
Most recently he has been investing his time into philanthropic endeavors as well as his latest business venture, both involving music. He and his wife of 43 years are devoted supporters of the Amarillo Opera and Amarillo Symphony. As a musician himself, having played in a garage rock band in high school, and a jazz band called Pizzazz, it is only natural that he is also a big advocate of local musicians. Therefore, the next logical step as a businessman was to open a music venue showcase their talent.
With the Esquire Jazz Club, he is not only providing a venue for local artists to play and be discovered, but he is also providing Amarillo the opportunity to listen to music that they might not normally give a chance. He opened the Esquire Jazz Club in the old Woolworths building, which also happens to house the courthouse where Patrick practiced law. The music venue is a dream come true. His two lifelong passions are now housed in the same building.