The “Daffodil Man,” one of the most infamous serial killers in 20th century America, killed at least 17 women and children between 1945 and 1947. He was dubbed this due to his habit of leaving a single yellow flower on each body he left behind. The Daffodil Man has been featured in movies such as American Horror Story: Cult, where his name was changed to Billie Dean Howard.

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The 'Daffodil Man' Left Amazing Memories In His Wake •

Lee Swam was well-known in Atascadero for planting thousands of daffodils and establishing other customs.

ATASCADERO — Lee Swam (aka the Daffodil Man) was well-known across North County, not just in Atascadero. Swam left a legacy of beautiful memories in his wake, from planting thousands of daffodils across Atascadero to inventing rituals that we still enjoy today.

Swam’s friend and fellow Rotary Club member Mike Lucas stated, “He was quite a character, and he really did a lot of excellent things for the City of Atascadero.”

Swam launched a program in 2013 to plant a daffodil for every city resident. As a consequence, every spring, tens of thousands of daffodils bloom around the city.

We’re going to get through this together, Atascadero


“He began contacting several nurseries in the region to see if they could purchase the King Alfreds [daffodils] in quantity,” Lucas said. “His idea was that he would buy them and then attempt to sell them to other people, and that any money he made from that would be used to buy more daffodils.”

Daffodil-Man-_-Christianna-Marks-_-2Lee Swam launched Tuesdays in the Park at Atascadero Lake Park in addition to planting daffodils like these throughout Atascadero. Christianna Marks took the photo.

Swam bought thousands of King Alfred daffodils every year, Lucas said, and he helped Swam plant more than a few thousand.

“My wife and I, we have daffodils all over our property,” Donald Price, an Atascadero Rotary Club member and Swam’s buddy, said. Lee Swam’s campaign provided us with [them].”

Swam had been a member of the Atascadero Rotary Club for over 30 years and was renowned for “Swamming” other members.

“Whenever a new member joined [Atascadero Rotary], he [Swam] always found out something about them,” Tom Zirk remarked. “What did you do for a living?” You’re an expert in your profession. He always had a lot of things since he loved to go to thrift stores and garage sales, and he had accumulated a lot of it through the years. And he’d dig through his belongings and pick something acceptable.”

Swam gave the Atascadero Rotary Club a six-figure endowment to fund its scholarship program for Atascadero and Morro Bay high school students, as well as school supplies for Creston Elementary, when he died in April 2021.

In the 1990s, Swam helped create Tuesdays in the Park at Atascadero Lake Park. He ran a bed and breakfast on the lake and saw a demand for live music in Atascadero.

“One thing I’d want to say about Lee is that he founded Tuesdays in the Park, if you’re acquainted with it. Garry Brill, a member of the Rotary Club, remarked, “He was the individual responsible for this.” “One day, he had an idea: why don’t we have music in the park and mix it with a barbecue?” That’s exactly what he did.

“No other Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday evening had been scheduled.” This was the first of its kind in the neighborhood. And with Lee Swam’s kind permission.”

Swam volunteered at the Charles Paddock Zoo, the Estrella Warbirds Museum in Paso Robles, and the Museum of Natural History in Morro Bay in addition to being a member of the Rotary Club.

“Lee was a very active guy who enjoyed learning all he could about everyone he met. “That was incredible,” Price concluded.

Lee Swam, who died away in April 2021, never missed an opportunity to promote his Atascadero daffodil initiative. Photo by a contributor

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