Willard “Bill” L. Swanson, 75, of North Branch, died Tuesday, May 21, 2013 at Ecumen North Branch.
Bill was born Nov. 26, 1937 in Cloverdale, Minn. to parents John and Myrtle (Tangren) Swanson. Bill was a graduate of North Branch High School where he was active in chorus, FFA, Letterman’s Club, football, track and basketball. After high school Bill worked as a tool and die maker his entire life. He served his country in the U.S. Army from August 15, 1961 to August 14, 1963. He loved fishing, hunting, gun collecting, reloading, snowmobiling and motorcycling as well as horseback riding. Over the years he was a member of many organizations. He was a Mason, American Legion member, snowmobile club member and a member of the NWTF. During the last 5 to 6 years of his life, the NWFT was his passion. He helped set up the youth day, bought the guns for the banquets, worked at most functions, was a board member and the chapter treasurer. He also enjoyed going to the state banquet with his new and old friends from the local chapter.
Bill was a quiet and gentle man. He was a devoted husband and father. He lived his life helping others and not worrying about himself. He never spoke ill of anyone and never complained. He was a fighter. He fought a four-year bout with cancer, heart surgery and sepsis. In the end he lost the fight, but he never gave up. We were told it would be only two weeks. Toward the end of Bill’s life he slept a lot and did not do much talking, but the one thing that gave him energy was to talk about turkey hunting or having a visit from one of the local NWFT members. During the last weeks of his life the DNR presented Bill with an award for 40 years of snowmobile training safety. It was a volunteer job and he always supplied his snowmobile for the kids to test on. After he received the award Bill said that if the training he did just saved one person’s life it was all worth it. That was Bill!
He is survived by his wife, Judy; children, Bret (Janet) Swanson, of Lino Lakes, Brenda (Sam) Ellefson, of Princeton, and Brian (Jody) Swanson, of North Branch; grandchildren, Jenelle (Chad) Dehmlow, Jaimie (Jim) Mattson and their two children, Austin and Ashton; Carrie (James) Luckhurst, John Ellefson, Ashley Swanson, Brandon Swanson and Benjamin Swanson; sister, Anna Marie (Kermit) Sybrant, of St. Paul; brother, Floyd (Donna) Swanson of Walkersville, MD; mother-in-law, Dorothy Nyberg, sisters in law, Corita Swanson and Thayle Swanson. He is preceded in death by his parents, John and Myrtle and brothers, Kenneth and Roger.
Memorial services will be held 5 p.m., Friday, May 31, 2013 at Grandstrand Funeral Home in North Branch with Rev. Ronald Hackmann officiating. Mary Shipp will serve as organist and Jon Ekstrom as soloist. Visitation will be held 3 p.m. until the time of service at the funeral home. Family interment will take place at Spring Lake Lutheran Cemetery.
Memorials may be directed to the Cancer Society or the Chisago County Community Center.