Rob Swinson has resided in Kansas most of his life, except for the summer of 1965 when he worked for Dole Pineapple Corp. in Honolulu, Hawaii, and two tours of overseas duty between 1968-1970 while serving with the USNR and stationed in Chu Lai, Viet Nam. His childhood through teenage years was spent residing in Pratt, KS with his parents and two older brothers.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the family lived in the country a few miles from town and near the headquarters for the Kansas Fish & Game Commission, where Swinson was a frequent visitor – admiring and being fascinated by their museum collections of native animals and American Indian artifacts.
These early years instilled his love of animals and collecting local Indian artifacts by performing surface searches in the plowed fields and prairies of Pratt County, often riding his bicycle to potential search sites. After attending Pratt Junior College, Swinson enrolled at Emporia State Teachers College seeking to major in zoology with an emphasis on mammals, then eventually relocated to Wichita to work for Boeing Aircraft Co. on their B-52 refurbishment program. In Chu Lai, Viet Nam, Swinson was a member of the Naval Air Support Unit (NASU), which was responsible for providing ground support for various types of aircraft involved in bombing runs, reconnaissance missions, and flights into North Viet Nam. Following his return to the United States in 1970 from Viet Nam and receiving an honorable discharge, Swinson enrolled in Wichita State University where he received a Bachelor of Science Degree majoring in Archaeology and Anthropology.
In the mid-1970s Swinson made a life-changing decision and entered into real estate, specializing in commercial development, sales and leasing. Within two years he received the designation of “Broker” from the Kansas Real Estate Commission and soon thereafter created his own company, Swinson & Associates Real Estate. During this period, Swinson became friends with several investors, three of whom became partners in two different real estate companies—one focused primarily on commercial sales and development; the other was involved in acquiring and managing investment properties.
In June 1985, he received a phone call from a high school friend asking if he would be interested in working for Frank Carney, one of the founding brothers of Pizza Hut in Wichita. While Swinson was working for Carney Enterprises he was responsible for commercial real estate management, sales, leasing, and commercial development.
This was followed by employment with Chance Rides, Inc.—a Wichita-based builder of amusement rides for carnivals, zoos, tourist attractions, and parks. Richard Chance, President, and CEO of Chance Rides, Inc., asked Swinson to focus on amusement parks and new development projects. In December 1986, when Chance Rides, Inc. acquired Bradley & Kaye, a Long Beach, California based ride manufacturer specializing in children’s rides and carrousel animals, Swinson saw a new opportunity for Chance Rides in the shopping center industry, which he was already familiar with because of his commercial real estate background. Within a couple of years, Chance Rides, as a result of Swinson’s efforts, had become the amusement industry’s world leader in the manufacture of custom-built carrousels and mall installations for the American shopping center industry. Swinson personally oversaw the sales and installation of dozens of carrousels for major malls throughout the United States and parts of Canada. He was promoted to National Sales Manager during this time period.
In June of 1990, Swinson received his first calls from Norma E. Staikos, Executive Administrator for MJJ Productions in Los Angeles, California, and from“MJJ” himself, Michael Joseph Jackson, requesting Swinson’s assistance to help Michael Jackson create and build his longtime dream—an amusement park for the “children of the world” at his private residence, the 2,700-acre Neverland Ranch. Within a couple of years into the development of Neverland Valley Park, Jackson anointed Swinson the “Maker of Dreams,” and this book is an attempt to share with the world of Jackson fans “the rest of the story” about some of Jackson’s happiest years—before all the lawsuits and devastation Jackson suffered.
In 2005, Michael Jackson left his beloved Neverland Valley Ranch—never to return…
This was an incredible loss to many of Michael Jackson’s worldwide admirers and affected tens of thousands. Swinson was just one of those who have suffered in silence – until now!
The “Dream Team” was there to support Michael in achieving his life-long
dream of finding “Neverland,” which he has finally found for eternity!
Norma E. Staikos
Robert E. “Rob” Swinson
Oliver “Brick” Price
David E. Nordahl