Steve E. Swenson

01/03/1949 - 01/01/2015 Obituary
Steve E. Swenson, 65, survived cancer once before but this time it was not a fair fight. It snuck up on him too much, and despite a huge team effort, it won on January 1, 2015.
It ended, but did not take away a great life. He was determined to have fun and he did so every day. He sought for himself and others to achieve happiness. He believes he was successful.
He was a newspaper reporter for 40 years, the last 33 at The Bakersfield Californian. For the most part, he covered crime, gore, human misery, tragedy and smut. The stuff people read. His goal was to be accurate and fair so that no matter who or what he wrote about, he could look that person in the eye the next day and say, "I treated you fairly. I didn't make you look bad. Your actions did."
But he also wanted to treat everyone as a human being. In their worst moments, he met them there with compassion and sympathy. Yes, he cried on the job. But he also laughed, helped and comforted. Justice was paramount. The truth trumped whatever the editors thought the story was.
Steve won numerous awards, mostly for breaking news, including one for a pet store owner charged with unlawful possession of an African clawed frog. But he was most proud of a lifetime achievement award from the Kern Press Club, which set up a journalism scholarship in his name. That same night he was given a Kern law enforcement award for fair and accurate reporting.
Steve wholly believed in life after work. So he loved to play. He became a golfer at age 11. He enjoyed competing with his friends, meeting new ones, teaching people how to play and trying to overcome the never ending challenges of the game. He just wishes everything wasn't his fault.
Steve was initially going to replace Mickey Mantle in centerfield for the Yankees. But that evolved into a softball pitching career that spanned nearly 40 years. He coached a lot of teams at work and at church. He ran the Christian Softball League in Bakersfield for 25 years. It had both competitive and fun teams to help with the enjoyment. Special games were between his then-Lutherans and the Catholics.
As a kid, he loved fishing and camping with his dad. As a dad, he loved backpacking and fishing with his son. He treasured camping and fishing trips with his wife, Mary. When they didn't catch anything on a boating trip, he and his sweetheart called that picnicking on the lake.
He always loved kids. Even before he became a dad to a daughter and son -- and later a stepdaughter -- he was Uncle Steve to his nieces and nephews. He took them camping, fishing and to the zoo and more. He loved them all.
But the other thing he loved was women. He was a consummate flirt. In a friendly "I'm interested in you way." Not in an "I'm hitting on you way." He was very proud that he was the only man ever invited to attend a meeting of the feminist workgroup called the Witches' Coven.
He was also close to his former girlfriends, never wanting to discard the personal relationships they once shared. His wife also became friends with these women.
Late in life, Steve who was adopted, found his birth family based in Minnesota. The only surviving sibling of four, his sister Mary Martin Rufener, accepted him as did some 70 other relatives around the country. He met most on two cross country trips and talked to several others. His birth name was Michael Claude Martin.
Cancer has a way of knocking people down. But that was not Steve's comfort zone. So with the help of Mary, hundreds of Facebook friends, hundreds of other work golfing, school, church and softball friends, he kept a positive outlook. So he played golf, went fishing and traveled. Better to feel happy than accept sadness.
He made peace with God, which also gave him great comfort.
But his number one blessing was his wife, Mary, who enjoyed the joys of life with him and helped him get through the sufferings of his disease. She was his light who brought to him everything he ever wanted in a loving relationship. She made it easy for him to be happy.
He is survived by his wife, Mary; his sister, Mary Rufener of Milaca, Minnesota; his adopted sisters, Catherine Aldridge of Dallas, Texas (go Cowboys) and Mary Jo Blume of Lacey, Washington; his brother, David Michael Swenson of Lacey; his daughter, Kara Anne Swenson of Cambria; his son and daughter-in-law, Todd E. Swenson and Kerry Tsukamoto of Tacoma, Washington; and his stepdaughter, Lori Smith of Sacramento.
Memorial services, 2:00 p.m. Saturday, January 10th at St. John's Lutheran Church, 4500 Buena Vista Rd., Bakersfield, California.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to charities important to Steve. Please donate in name of Steve to: Kern Press Club Steve E. Swenson Scholarship, Kern Press Club, PO Box 1333, Bakersfield 93302, or
; or Magdalene Hope Inc., PO Box 2631, Bakersfield 93303.
Published in Bakersfield Californian on Jan. 3, 2015
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