Biographical Sketch of

Theodore Swedalla, Jr.

Class of 1964

Written by Buffalo Bob Casale

Ted Swedalla was a sophomore back in 1962 when he started working part time. Blackman Plumbing Supply is a multi site entity with branches in all boroughs and also in Nassau and Suffolk Counties on Long Island . Ted was hired by the Hicksville branch and worked after school and on weekends.

When Ted graduated from Hicksville High in 1964, he began a full time work schedule intending to make a career working for the Blackman organization. He worked in Hicksville for three years as a counterman servicing the plumbers looking for materials for their jobs. He spent the three years from 1964 to 1967 absorbing as much knowledge as possible presented to him by plumbers and his counter mates.

In 1967, the organization sent Ted into the Queens branch that was located on Hempstead Avenue in Queens Village . His vast repertoire blossomed even more and he was elevated to the position of Branch Manager in 1974.

At that time, I was part owner of a trucking business that delivered carpeting and tile to the New York Metro area. My business partner was my brother in law, Otto Gabrielsen, who graduated in 1964 with Ted. We started the business in February of 1970. I was just out of the navy and Otto was recently discharged from the army. The business was started years earlier by my father in law who was also Otto Gabrielsen. He ran the business with trucks that were constantly breaking down. Otto, Jr. and I invested in new trucks and new equipment and grew the business from servicing several customers to servicing many.

Otto went golfing one day and bumped into Ted who was on an outing sponsored by Blackman. They got to talking and Ted explained that he bought bathroom vanities from an outfit in Fairfield , Connecticut . He would get about 65 units a week and the trucker he was using managed to damage 4 or 5 in each shipment. Ted asked Otto if he would be interested in making the run every Thursday. It was ideal because we delivered to Connecticut on Thursday and we used to come home empty. To make a long story short, we were hired full time in 1975.

Ted and his wife, Maureen and their two kids, Kim and Ted III and me and my wife, Joyce and our two children, Dawn and Chad , became good friends. We did the dinner routine, had barbecues, went on vacation together and became very close.

Ted was happy in his job except that he had this hidden desire for the past several years to go into business for himself. Ted approached me asking if I would be interested in joining him in this new venture. I knew nothing relating to plumbing & heating but had the knowledge to take care of payroll, paying taxes, filing tax returns, banking and all the office skills required to run a tight ship. He told me I would learn as we grew and he was totally correct. I decided to quit the trucking business.

We opened Liberty Plumbing & Heating Supply on West John Street in Hicksville on October 22, 1977. It was a great deal of work getting started especially turning the West John building into a viable place to do business.



We capitalized with $45,000 to purchase an opening inventory that was not huge but covered a wide spectrum of product. To make a long story short, we operated for 32 years and when we retired in 2008, we were doing fourteen million dollars annually.

Ted had gotten to know one of our customers in particular who was also a small game hunter, Mike Joyce.  One cold, fall day, he asked Ted if he had a dog in his family. Ted told Mike he didn’t. “Ted,” Mike said, “would you like to add a little female Beagle to your family?"

Ted agreed to bring the beagle pup into his home. Little did Ted know at that time, that his life's course would be changed forever.  Ted did all the wrong things that first time dog owners do and then some.  But despite all his mistakes, his newly found four legged friend named "Dawn" opened a door to travel and friendships all over our country and the world. His beagle by the way was named in honor of my daughter.

Ted toyed with the idea of starting a kennel. He loved animals and though breeding Beagles could be an enjoyable hobby, it also fostered the prospect of maybe improving the breed and making some money. He realized his dream and opened  his kennel in 1980 he named TeMaTeKi. The name was a shortened compilation of names…Ted, Maureen, Ted and Kim

Ted began a reading regimen about breeding. As his knowledge increased so did his desire to breed his Dawn with a male who possessed good bloodlines. The birth of a single puppy occurred in the latter part of 1980 and the pup he named Joy. Dawn was bred to Potsdam Firemark.

As the years passed, Ted met many breeders. One was Richard Reynolds who owned a kennel featuring Englandale Beagles and Foxhounds. Richard and Ted maintain a friendship that transcends many years.

Joy was growing and it was time for her first litter. Mr. Reynolds suggested Ted contact a client of his, Barbra Danis, who also was an American Kennel Club Judge.  Ted contracted with Barbra to breed Joy to her dog, CH.Englandale Fawnglen Ruffian otherwise known as "Ruffi".  This produced his first show quality Beagle that was named Christina.

Barbra took Ted under her wing and introduced him to the dog show world. It was a love affair from the first time he stepped onto a show site.

The breeding of his first litter opened the door to a world of showing dogs. 

“Showing dogs,” Ted said, “has given me many friends and importantly my wonderful wife, S. Terri Giannetti. Ted met Terri at a dog show and they hit it off almost immediately. After they were married, they opened a new kennel they named Beowulf Kennel. Ted was divorced from his first wife, Maureen, in 1988.

 Over the many years since his first beagle "Dawn" was born, many fine Beagles have entered Terri’s and Ted’s lives.  Their hounds have all been registered with the "Beowulf Kennel" name and many have had very successful careers in the conformation ring. We also expanded our breeding to include German Shepherds.


Dogs add to our lives in ways that simply cannot be measured.

Here are some current members of the family at Beowulf Kennel.  They all range in age and their accomplishments are varied--but each one is unique and special in their own way whether it is their personality, problem-solving abilities or the harmony of their bark.


Terri and Clues Ch. Beowulf Ransom Creek Hide In Plain Sight -  15"


Olivia Skyline's When Pigs Fly - 13"


Terri and Clues GCh Beowulf Cavallaria Rusticana - 15"


Hannah Ch Beowulf An Uncommon Soldier - 15"


Twist Ch Alkarah Dry Martini At Beowulf

Ted says, “the most important job for these little guys and our shepherds, however, is to be a family member that improves the quality of life for all involved.”

In 1995, Ted formed the Beagle Rescue Foundation of America, Inc with the proceeds from the first rescue auction held at that year’s National Beagle Club of America Specialty. This organization was created for the purpose of providing spay/neuter monies to direct service rescue workers, for the Beagles that have come into their care. Another aspect of the Beagle Rescue is that Ted and Terri will take in any beagle from anyone if the person cannot care properly for the dog. Also, any dog sold by Beowulf can be returned anytime if the health and welfare of the dog is in jeopardy.


Several years ago, Ted was given the job of Supporting Membership Director of the National Beagle Club of America.  The National Beagle Club Supporting Membership consists of those Beaglers whose primary focus involves conformation, obedience, agility, and tracking. Both Terri and Ted have been members of the National Beagle Club since 1985. The club is situated on 508 acres in Western Loudon County in Virginia .

In 2012, the Memorial Walkway came to being, thanks to an idea brought forth by Ted Swedalla. The brick walkway links the downstairs dining room of the house at Institute Farm to the back lawn.   The walkway was initially laid in April 2012 by Ted. Any newly engraved bricks are added once or twice a year.  The bricks are a lasting tribute to a special beagle, one special in the ring, the field or part of your family.  It's also a wonderful means to memorialize special beaglers, kennels or events in the beagle world.  Proceeds from the bricks go towards improvements at Institute Farm. Personalized bricks are $100 each. To date, approximately $16,000.00 has been raised.




While Ted and I were still working, Ted had a hobby that started very innocently. He was concerned about staying in good shape and wanted to lose some weight. He started riding his old bike around the neighborhood in Middle Island , New York . Then he would pedal into adjoining communities to increase the distance and boost his stamina. Soon it was possible for him to take a leisurely ride from Middle Island (A) to Montauk Point (B), a distance of 60 miles one way.




Beowulf Kennel bred some great pups and was very successful not only in the ring, but also providing quality beagles to people throughout the United States . His involvement with breeding piqued his interest in other breeds. Ted and Terri started breeding German Shepherds. These remarkable dogs are used extensively within Homeland Security. They are trained to “sniff” out drugs being smuggled into our country. Terri currently works for Homeland Security as a canine handler working at Kennedy Airport in Queens , New York .




Ted discovered that America ’s Vet Dogs home office was near to him in Smithtown , New York . He contacted the Board of Directors and said he would like to become a donor. His idea of raising money was unique.

Ted and I had a lengthy discussion about his idea. He wanted to pedal his bike from Key West , Florida to Bar Harbor , Maine . He would contact friends he made over the years while handling dogs. They would pay him an amount either by the mile or a flat rate. This was in 2009 and I had moved from New York to Augusta , Georgia . The reason for my move was to become a caregiver for my Ex-wife, Joyce, who was in the early stages of Alzheimers. Our daughter, Dawn, was caring for her and was looking to get a job because of a divorce. She needed help.

Ted and I decided to make the trip a reality. Dawn said she could continue Joyce’s care while she looked for employment. I had a motor home that Ted and I would use as a home base. Ted mapped out a schedule of how many miles he would pedal every day and we scheduled stops at Recreational Vehicle (RV) Campgrounds. I would go ahead to each subsequent campground and wait for Ted to arrive.

We drove to Key West and the journey started. It was a couple of weeks into the trip when we were camped in Charleston , South Carolina that we both called home. Ted’s father in law was hospitalized and Dawn advised me that she got a job. We had traveled close to 800 miles but had to cut the trip short to get home.

In 2010, Ted had this vision. He wanted to pedal his bike across country. He had continued training after our shortened trip from the year before.



I wanted to be home base again but was now locked into a situation taking full time care of Joyce. Her condition had worsened and it wouldn’t be too long before she would be unable to walk.

Ted hooked up with a fellow, Steve Kurek, who lived in Lake Tahoe , California and shared the same dream that Ted had.

They began their journey on May 7th, 2010 departing from Roanoke , Virginia .


Seventy-seven days later, on July 15th, 2010 Ted and Steve ended their journey in Eugene , Oregon .

The two bikers had pedaled over 4,200 miles and navigated over 200 thousand feet of elevation. The highest point they reached was over 14,000 feet above sea level.

Ted was able to raise over 7 thousand dollars that was donated to

You can view Ted’s blog by Googling Ted Swedalla’s Blog.