John O. ‘Jack’ Swanson

MARQUETTE, MI. – John O. “Jack” Swanson, 88, of 1101 Lee Street in Marquette passed away January 26, 2014 at his home surrounded by his loving family and under the compassionate/ professional care of Upper Peninsula Hospice and his long-time doctor/ “friend” Dr. Thomas Huffman.

Jack was born August 24, 1925 in Marquette to Carl O. Swanson and Gladys (Johnston) Swanson. He was a 1943 graduate of Graveraet High School.

In November 1943, he enlisted in the Navy and after basic training was assigned to the Carrier Aircraft Service Unit (F) 47 and served in the Pacific Theatre on the USS Vent (ARS-29) whose task was to come to the aid of stricken vessels and the USS YMS 293 which was a minesweeper. Jack was also stationed at the Naval Air Base Marpi at Saipan, Mariana Island after participating in the battle of the Island of Saipan during June/July 1944. The horrors of that battle haunted Jack throughout his life. Jack received the Asiatic Pacific American Area World War II Victory Medal and was honorably discharged from the USN in October 1947.

Jack dealt with many challenges during his early adult years. He married his first wife while he was in the Navy (Doris Denny of Marquette, Michigan) in May 1946 and they had three children. Unfortunately, Doris died of cancer in March 1953 leaving Jack to raise his three young children ages 7, 4, and 18 months. A year later (1954), Jack married his second wife (Geraldine Longtine of Marquette) and they had three more children bringing their family to a total of six children. The Fates were not kind and Geri died of cancer in April 1969. Jack was again left to care/raise his four school-age children who were still at home. He met and then married his third wife (Donna O’Leary) on January 30, 1970 and they have shared 44 wonderful years together. Donna also brought two additional teenagers into the family unit.

After his discharge from the USN in 1947, Jack began working for the Duluth, South Shore, and Atlantic Railroad (later known as the Soo Line Railroad) until about 1964 when he was involved in a tragic railroad accident in St. Ignace, Michigan. After about 18 months of hospitalizations, surgeries, and rehabilitation, Jack was not able to return to railroad work. He was a determined man and refused to be considered disabled. He went back to school to become a computer programmer, was hired by Northern Michigan University in its newly formed computer department where he remained until his retirement from NMU in 1986.

Jack became an avid golfer and he cherished his time on the links with his many friends. He and his wife, Donna, spent many years wintering in Phoenix, Arizona where they enjoyed the warm weather, making new life-long friends whom they participated with in many adventures and activities during their yearly excursion to Arizona. These yearly trips ended when Jack had a stroke in 2001, but they remained in contact, until this day, with many of their “old” friends.

Jack became more “mellow” in his later years enjoying his time in Marquette with Donna and family. Donna & Jack would go for many scenic car rides, participating in family gatherings, and spending many an evening at the Big Boy Restaurant in Marquette having dinner among his special friends who knew exactly what he liked to eat and drink. “Another Pepsi, please!”

Survivors include his wife of 44 years, Donna (O’Leary) Swanson, who Jack always referred to as the Love of his Life; his children – Charles Edward (Janey) Swanson of Phoenix, Arizona; Cynthia Ann (Bruce) Nyquist of Marquette; Brian Scott (Angela Ciampaglia) Swanson of Owosso, Michigan; Stephen Paul (Kayleen) Swanson of Cottondale, Florida. Five grandchildren – Debbie (Scott Smith) Nyquist-Aro of Marquette; Jeffrey (April) Nyquist of Marquette; Travis (Renee) Swanson of New Orleans, Louisiana; Amber Swanson of Orlando, Florida; and Aaron Swanson of Gwinn, Michigan. Four step-grandchildren – Josh Biolo of Madison, Wisconsin; Niels Borcherding of Madison, Wisconsin; Cory (Annie Higley) Croschere of Marquette, Michigan; and Troy Croschere of Marquette, Michigan. Six great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Jack is preceded in death by his parents; his first and second wives; a son – Thomas Richard Swanson; a daughter – Colleen Michele Ryan-Swanson; two step-daughters – Cynthia Borcherding and Cheryl Croschere; Two brothers – Carl Jr. (infant) and Robert; Three sisters – Miriam (infant), Gloria (Gerald) Cox-Dausey, and Mary Kay (David) Jarvis. And his beloved cat Zeke.

The family would like to express its heartfelt appreciation to Dr. Thomas Huffman for his many years of professional medical care oversight and friendly “banter” with Jack, and to all of the compassionate staff of U.P. Home Health, Hospice, and Private Duty. All of the caregivers were fabulous, but the family wants to extend a special “Thank You” to Jack’s special angel, Erika, who has been providing care for over two years.

Those wishing to consider a memorial are asked to consider the Upper Peninsula Hospice Foundation – Suite 44 – 1414 W. Fair Avenue – Marquette, Michigan 49855.

Jack was a complex man who could be boisterous, gentle, caring, head-strong, compassionate, fun-loving, stern …. But to sum it up, he was a good man with integrity who believed in the truth and always doing the best you can, who maintained a strong work ethic, who was full of life and who tried to instill all of these values and personality characteristics in his children; who love and will miss him greatly, especially his impish smile that lit up his whole face.

The Swanson-Lundquist Funeral Home in Marquette is assisting the family. On-line memories may be shared at swansonlundquistfuneral home.com.

A memorial service will be held during the summer 2014 for both Jack (and his step-daughter Cheri Croschere who died this past November) when family and friends will gather at the U.P. Hospice Memorial Garden located at Presque Isle Park for a service, fellowship, and the planting of a trees in memory of Jack and Cheri. Details will be published in the Mining Journal in advance of the planned event.