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Ralph "Tuffy" Swensen

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Ralph "Tuffy" Swensen, 94, retired rancher and oilman, died of natural causes Wednesday, May 2, at a Great Falls hospital.

A celebration of his life will be held on his 95th birthday. Whitted Funeral Chapel of Shelby is in charge of arrangements.

He was born on Oct. 6, 1917 in Cloverland, Wash. He was the seventh child of eight children born to Broder Jensen ("BJ") and Kirsten Marie Swensen. The family moved to Montana in 1918, and eventually settled in the northeast corner of Glacier County.

After graduating from the eighth grade, Tuffy worked as laborer, miner, welder and mechanic in Conrad, the Sweetgrass Hills and Butte. He returned home in 1940 to help his mother after his father passed. He purchased his mother's homestead in 1947. He farmed while working as a machinist and welder.

He married Marian C. Dougherty in 1950. Together they purchased adjacent farm land and began raising cattle, eventually expanding the operation by pur-chasing additional land and raising registered Herefords. During the '60s and '70s, he became an oilman.

He will be missed for his quick wit and astute mind. He always had a wink in his eye for the ladies. He loved KFC, a rare rib eye, and his sweets. He was a lifelong fan of the NHL. In his later years, he became an avid fan of baseball and rooted vigorously for whoever was playing against the Yankees. He never missed a second of the televised National Rodeo Finals and especially enjoyed bull riding as he rooted for the bulls. His passion was playing cards and, in particular, cribbage.

He was married three times; divorced once and twice a widower. He is survived by his children, Cecelia Swensen, Ralph "Eddie" Swensen, Marilyn (Rod) Perry and Anita Swensen; his stepchildren, Anna (Lyle) Case and Karen (Floyd) Brandt; his grandchildren, William (Tiffany) Allen and Jana Perry; and his beloved step-grandchildren, Jessica, Heather, Jacquie and Shelby.

To honor the passing of his be-loved pound puppy Grizzy, who died at his master's feet on April 22, 2012, it was Tuffy's wish that any memorials be sent to Lewis & Clark Humane Society, Box 4455, Helena, MT 59604.

Condolences may be posted online at and/or

Published in Great Falls Tribune on May 4, 2012
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