James Willard Swanson
Beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, died peacefully August 24, 2018 surrounded by his loving extended family.
Jim was born in Duluth, Minnesota on December 4, 1931 to parents Richard and Hattie (Grandquist) Swanson. When he was three years of age he moved with his family to Fargo, North Dakota. His education at North Dakota State University was interrupted by two years of service in the Air Force during the Korean War. Upon returning to Fargo he resumed his studies and in 1953 married Janet Wolbert, who had been a classmate since third grade. After graduation in 1955, he began a distinguished and fulfilling career with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration beginning as an Inspector in their Minneapolis Office. This was soon followed by promotions and relocations to Buffalo, NY, Raleigh, NC, a second assignment in Minneapolis, MN, then New Orleans, LA, Washington, DC, and finally to Seattle, WA where he served as Director of Region X for 15 years until retirement in 1987. Jan retired at the same time and they enjoyed many travel adventures in the US and abroad.
In 1969 when Jim's career brought them to Seattle with Sharon (13), Scott (11) and Carla (8) they settled in Bellevue and joined Bellevue Congregational Church where Jim enjoyed singing in the choir for 30+years and traveling with them several times on European tours. He cherished his time with the choir and the friends he made there. He was a meticulous and skilled craftsman and home handyman, and for many years a member of a weekly pool group and twice weekly foursome of golf buddies. Jim was an avid fan of the ND State Bison Football Team and the Seattle Sounders in addition to the Huskies, Seahawks and Mariners.
In 2002, as empty nesters, Jim and Jan downsized to a home on Mercer Island to be close to their two adored young granddaughters, Sydney and Meredith. In 2009 he and Jan moved to Mirabella Seattle in South Lake Union. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease and while he was able, he enjoyed the woodworking shop, pool table and bridge games there. Dessert was always his favorite chocolate ice cream- 2 scoops.
Jim is remembered as man of outstanding integrity, honest and kind, with a quick wit, great sense of humor and a twinkle in his eyes. His corny jokes and quirky puns were legendary to all. For 65 years he was a loving, affectionate and supportive husband to Jan. Their marriage was truly a partnership of shared devotion.
His children remember him as a devoted, supportive father who was always generous with his time and love - and a role model who exemplified honesty and commitment. A creative, multi-talented dad and grandpa, Jim played clarinet and ukulele, sang, was a skilled photographer who faithfully recorded family events in treasured photo albums, and a smart problem-solver who could fix anything. His young granddaughters were lucky recipients of handmade toys including a sturdy play house he built in their backyard.
He was preceded in death by his infant daughter Paula, parents Hattie and Richard, and brother Charles. He is survived by his wife, Jan, and children Sharon Swanson, Scott (Jeanine) Swanson, Carla (Dan) Thieme, and granddaughters Sydney Thieme and Meredith Thieme, as well as beloved nieces, nephews, and cousins.
There will be a Memorial Service on Saturday, September 15 at 2:00pm at Bellevue Congregational Church, 11061 NE 2nd Street, Bellevue, WA. The following day, Sunday, Sept 16, there will be a Celebration of Jim's life at 3:00pm at Mirabella Seattle, 116 Fairview Ave North, Seattle, WA. Donations in Jim's honor may be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research
, P.O. Box 5014. Hagerstown, MD 21741-5014