It is with sorrow and joy that we mark the passing of Wendell Roger Swanson, beloved husband, father and grandfather. Our hearts are broken with the sadness of losing you too soon. But they will be healed by the joy of knowing that you are in Heaven with Jesus and those loved ones who have gone before you. We will feel your love in our hearts each time we think of you, feel the closeness of your family when we come together, feel your strength and wisdom in hard times and share smiles and laughter when we retell your stories to our children. We will treasure these gifts you have given us and keep you close in our hearts.
Wendell Roger Swanson passed away peacefully at his home in Harris, Minn. Sunday, Nov. 4 2012. He was 83 years old. Wendell was born Dec. 21, 1928 in Minneapolis to Stanley and Mildred (Keiser) Swanson. He grew up in Rush City, Minn. along with his siblings Marlon (Bud), Harriette, Audrey, Myron (Mike), Carolyn, Kermit, Oren, Paul and Gary. At the age of 14 he drove his mother and siblings to California in a Model A to join his father who had found work there. The family returned to Rush City a few years later. Wendell worked on a farm as a boy and as a young man in the open pit iron ore mine in Hibbing. He also worked on the construction of the Fort Randall Dam in South Dakota.
Wendell married Phyllis Francis Jacobs Dec. 13, 1952 at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church in St. Paul. The couple moved to Harris in 1959. Nine children were born to the couple; Ginene, Deborah, Sandra, Wendell Jr., Randall, Stephen, Joseph, David and John.
Wendell worked as a truck driver at Modern Bin in Minneapolis for 41 years. He was a member of the Harris Fire Department for 22 years, 12 of which he served as fire chief. Wendell was elected mayor of Harris and served in that position for eight years. He was also the president of the Harris Lions Club and The Harris Men’s Club. Wendell was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rush City and served as a lector for many years. In 1970 Wendell and seven family and friends purchased hunting land near Alborn, Minnesota. They built “The Alborn Hilton” and formed the Spider Creek Hunting Association. Wendell presided as president for 42 years until the time of his passing. The hunting cabin is a place for families to gather and pass on many of the things that Wendell enjoyed the most. These included spending time with family and friends, hunting and being outdoors. He also enjoyed fishing, camping and sharing a story around a “small” campfire, “none of those big ones like Randy builds.” Wendell loved to sing for his family. The lyrics of “Nicolina” and “There’s a Tear in My Beer” will forever bring a smile to his family. He also loved to fill his cup with winnings at penny poker and few who played him at Cribbage walked away without being “skunked.” Wendell and Phyllis, their children, grand children and great grandchildren gather together each year in August for a family campout dubbed “Swansomania.” It is a celebration of the loving family that two people began and each year the population grows and will soon top 80.
Wendell Swanson is survived by his wife Phyllis, children: Deborah (Gordon) Trosen of Verndale; Sandra (Allen) Weisbrod of North Branch; Wendell Jr. (Bonnie) Swanson of Harris; Randall (Shanon) Swanson of Harris; Stephen Swanson of Harris; David (Linda) Swanson of Stark; John (Dawn) Swanson of Rush City; son-in-law John Strachan of Seattle, Wash., 27 grandchildren, 31 great grandchildren with three soon to join the family, siblings: Harriette (Elliot) Nelson of St. Cloud; Audrey (Arden) Nelson of Lino Lakes; Myron (Velda) Swanson of Arizona; Carolyn (Clifton) Rundle of River Falls, Wis.; Kermit (Marjorie) Swanson of Harris; Oren (Janis) Swanson of Fairbault; Paul (Mary Ann) Swanson of Harris; and Gary (Nancy) Swanson of Wayzata; nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends.
Wendell was preceded in death by his parents Stanley and Mildred Swanson, children Joseph and Ginene, great granddaughter Hope, siblings Marlon and Ilene and father and mother-in-law Edward and Amelia Jacobs.
Fathers Shane Wassinger and Xavier Thelakkott will con-celebrate a Mass of Christian Burial; 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rush City, Minn. Music will be provided by Jill Borland, Randi Moulton and Lynn Bibeau. A time of visitation and reviewal is scheduled on Thursday evening, 5 to 8 p.m. at the Olson Funeral Chapel and also at church one hour prior to the Mass.
Casket bearers include Christopher Trosen, Lynn Bibeau, Wendell Swanson III, Michael Swanson, Joseph Benolken, Justin Swanson and Daniel Swanson with the interment in the Calvary Catholic Cemetery of Rush City. The Harris and Rush City Fire Departments will act as honorary casket bearers. A reception in the church lower level will be held following the interment.
Arrangements are entrusted to the Funeral and Cremation Service — Olson Chapel, Rush City www.funeralandcremationservice.com.