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April 7, 1916 – Shirley Warwickshire, England
April 4, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta
Vera Swanson passed away quietly at the Foothills Hospital on Wednesday, April 4, 2018. Vera lived a full life, spread between England, Ottawa, and Calgary. Vera had two very different lives; she spent her formative years living in the south of England where she met her first husband, who was taken from her by the Second World War before they could celebrate their first anniversary. At the end of the War, she met and married Frank Swanson, who was working in London as a war correspondent. After the War, Vera made the courageous decision to move to Canada with Frank and lived in Ottawa for ten wonderful years, supporting Frank in his role as a senior journalist with the Southam News Service. While in Ottawa, Vera was involved in the local performing arts community and, in particular, the Ottawa Philharmonic. In 1962, Frank and Vera, along with their son David, moved to Calgary, which became her home for the rest of her life – which was not her plan! Never one to take no for an answer, Vera became a champion of the creation and development of the Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts - now Arts Commons - which stands as a testament to her commitment and determination. Vera was also a patron and supporter of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, which remained her love until she passed away. Vera spearheaded the creation of the Calgary International Organ Festival, the Arts Centre Guild, and was an active member of the Churchill Society. In 2001, Vera received the Order of Canada in recognition of her tireless volunteer work. She will be remembered for her warm and generous hospitality at her home overlooking the foothills and the Rockies. Vera is survived by her son David and his wife Francine. The family would like to thank the Thompson Family and Fran Watson for their support and kindness, especially during Vera's last days. Funeral Services will be held at The Anglican Parish of Christ Church (3602 8 Street S.W. Calgary, AB) on Monday, April 9, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. Reception to follow. Condolences may be forwarded through In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes are encouraged to be made directly to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra at In living memory of Vera Swanson, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park.

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Published in Calgary Herald on Apr. 6, 2018.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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14 entries
April 25, 2018
My sincerest condolences, I was never privileged enough to meet this outstanding Lady but have been so lucky to of heard many stories about her. Aunty Vera you truly were a remarkable woman to of which I can only hope a part if me may have just even just 1 of your traits as then I would be truly blessed. Your energy, vibrantcy and compassion inspires me in ways you could never begin to fathom. Aunty Vera, thank you for being a very big part of my mums life these last few years, and the happiness you brought to her finally meeting up after so many years of no contact. Your memory will be with us forever. Love Cathy (Joys daughter).
Catherine Hoskin (Gowing)
April 12, 2018
April 12, 2018
April 12, 2018
Enjoying Fish and Chips at Fergus and Bix
I'm so sorry to hear of Vera's passing, my condolences to David and Francine. I just saw Vera within the week and we had a really nice visit She was was such a firecracker of a woman, so full of life with a real purpose to make things happen. She took charge and was unstoppable. I really enjoyed listening to her stories from her youth growing up in England, living through the WW2, meeting Churchill, the Queen and many other people of distinction. She was a dynamic, amazing and classy lady. She loved her family very much. I take comfort in knowing we shared many opening nights at the Theatre, dinners, lunches, playing bridge and driving her around in my little convertible (she loved that). Unfortunately, I was away and missed her Celebration of Life. I was there in spirit.
Christine Nesbitt
April 9, 2018
Dear David and Francine,
Sincere condolences to you and your family. I have fond memories of working with Vera over the years dating back to the International Organ Festival as well as the early days of the National Music Centre. It was a real honour for us that Vera attended NMC's grand opening in July 2016. Her contributions to the arts in Calgary are numerous and I'm really grateful that I was able to learn from Vera over the years. She was a real inspiration to many people. She will be missed.
Andrew Mosker
April 9, 2018
David and Francine,
Our love and condolences to you at this sad time. Vera was an outstanding champion of music and the arts. We're incredibly proud of her friendship to us and the inspiration and determination she always showed. Without her, Calgary would be a sadder place. We were honoured by her leadership on the Calgary Centre and grateful for her support.
Richard Pilbrow
April 9, 2018
David and Francine, Sorry for your loss. Having met Vera only a few times she was able to leave a huge impact on me. I'll never forget her, she was a great lady. kind and strong. always cousin Tom
Tom Burns
April 8, 2018
I have I had the pleasure of serving Vern and her family and friends for many years ( Pinebrook Golf and Country Club) she's a very independent strong beautiful lady .
She's always made me laugh !
Your friend always !
Janet Bodanis
Janet Bodanis
April 8, 2018
An amazing lady and an inspiration for us all for a life well lived.
Catherine Brown
April 8, 2018
David and Francine,
With sincere condolences in the loss of Vera, I wish you peace in your time of need.
My deepest sympathy,

Frank Koke
Frank Koke
April 8, 2018
David and Francine, myself and my family send our deepest condolences. We are sorry to hear of the passing of your mother Vera she was a wonderful lady.
Lesley Plant
April 7, 2018
David and Francine, on behalf of the board and members of the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Calgary, my deepest condolences. I feel fortunate to have been able to talk with Vera at our most recent Churchill Society dinner and to visit with her again in mid-February. Vera and your late father were, of course, key in the creation of the Churchill Society in Calgary. Their selfless contributions over their lifetimes in so many capacities is a treasure to remember. Vera will be missed by all.
Mark Milke
April 6, 2018
David & Francine I am deeply sorry for your great loss. Vera was a dynamic woman, a tireless volunteer, a visionary and a great supporter of the arts. She was a good friend to my late parents and I will miss her very much. My deepest sympathy.
Cheryl Cohen
April 6, 2018
I am holding you close to my heart, Francine and David as you mourn the loss of Vera. What a dynamic woman, She will be missed. With sympathy and love.
Margaret Finkenzeller
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