Ernest Lawrence “Swede” Swenson Jr.
Ernest Lawrence “Swede” Swenson Jr., age 92, died on March 19, 2020. Ernest was born at Concordia, Kansas, on April 11, 1927. He graduated from Concordia High School in 1945 and joined the U.S. Marine Corps that spring. He was a World War II veteran, having served in the Aleutian Islands.
Ernest married Nina Ming of Abilene, Kansas, on June 5, 1953. She was a Baker University graduate and taught physical education at Osawatomie High School. They made their home in Osawatomie and became the parents of six children. Nina died in 1973. Ernest married Lurene Paddock, a school psychologist in the Olathe school district, on July 11, 1979. Lurene died in 2007.
Ernest attended Baker University, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Education in 1950. He lettered in football for three years and was inducted into the Baker Athletics Hall of Fame in 2005.
Ernest taught physical education and coached girls’ basketball for three years at Miami High School near Butler, Missouri. He spent the rest of his career, from 1953 to 1988 in USD 367, in Osawatomie, Kansas. He first taught physical education and was the assistant coach for track and boys’ basketball, as well as the head football coach. He received a Master’s Degree in Education Administration from the University of Kansas in 1963. He became the Administrative Assistant to Superintendent York in 1966 and then served as Superintendent of Schools from 1968 until his retirement in 1988. The Board of Education later named the Swenson Early Childhood Education Center in his honor. Ernest was inducted into the Kansas Teachers Hall of Fame in 2000.
Ernest was an active member of the Osawatomie community. He served on the Board of Directors for the First Option Bank for 24 years. He helped start the “Christmas in October” program and served on its Board of Directors for many years. He was a Chairperson and on the Board of Directors for the Miami County Cancer Society. Ernest was a member of Rotary since 1965. He was a President and a Paul Harris Fellow. He also often earned recognition for bringing in the most new members.
An active member of the United Methodist Church, he served on the Board of Trustees. He also belonged to the American Legion, the Elks Lodge, the Chamber of Commerce, the Miami County Retired Teachers Association, the United School Administrators, the Kansas Association of School Administrators and was a life member of NEA and KNEA. He served as president of many of those organizations.
Ernest enjoyed attending the school and sporting events of his children and grandchildren. He loved to travel, planning many fun and educational vacations for his children. Later, he often visited his children and grandchildren at their homes around the United States and in Europe. A highlight for him was a trip to Sweden to meet nine of his first cousins and their families. Ernest and Lurene loved to host their family for holidays and also for week-long vacations in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri. His sixteen grandchildren spent many fun weeks with him in Osawatomie.
Ernest was preceded in death by his wife, Nina and his second wife, Lurene; his parents, Anna and Ernest Swenson, Sr.; and his sisters, Irene Swenson, Ernestine Edwards, and Maxine Shay. He is survived by his children, Sandy Fryer, Greg Swenson (Vicki), Vickie Autry (Terry), Lisa Loewen (Steve), Doug Swenson (Seong Hee) and Paul Swenson (Carol); his grandchildren, Kelly Swenson, Eric Swenson, Brooke Swenson, Anna Marie Autry, Garrett Autry, Shane Grundtner, Nathan Loewen, Jeremy Loewen, Dustin Loewen, Brandon Loewen, Joshua Loewen, Melissa Loewen, Corey Swenson, Keenan Swenson, Mallory Swenson, Codi Swenson, Conrad Swenson and their families, including nine great-grandchildren; as well as many nieces and nephews and their families.
A private burial for the immediate family was held. The public memorial service is planned Sunday, May 24, 2020, at 2:30 p.m. at the Osawatomie High School Auditorium. In the event a postponement becomes necessary, it will be held Saturday, July 25, 2020, with details provided later. Check www.eddybirchard.com for the latest information.
Memorials in Ernest’s honor are to Swenson Family Scholarship given annually to an Osawatomie High School graduate or to the First United Methodist Church of Osawatomie. Memorials may be sent c/o Eddy-Birchard Funeral Home P.O. Box 430 Osawatomie, KS 66064.