JAMES MELVIN SWENSON was born to Melvin and Irene (Kuck) Swenson on November 20, 1936 in Centerville, South Dakota. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by loving family on Friday March 22, 2013 at the West Point Living Center in West Point, Nebraska.
When he was 2 years old he moved with his family from South Dakota to Oakland, Nebraska and Oakland remained his home until his death. He received his high school diploma from Oakland High School in 1954 and was the senior class president that year. During high school he worked in his father's grocery store, "The Farmer's Store". Jim enlisted in the United States Navy on August 30, 1955 and served four years as a machinist mate on the USS Randolph Air Craft Carrier, receiving his honorable discharge on August 28, 1959. After his discharge he worked as a carpenter for one year, and then as a service station attendant at the Holmquist Sinclair Gas Station.
On September 10, 1961, Jim married Evelyn Marie Johnson in the First Evangelical Lutheran Church, Oakland, Nebraska. They enjoyed 51 1/2 years of love and partnership, all of those years in Oakland. They have two sons; James Andrew and Scott Theodore.
In 1966 Jim decided to pursue a life-long career as an insurance salesman. He worked as an independent agent but was also affiliated with many agencies through the years. In 1971 he opened his "Swenson Insurance Agency" in Oakland. A dedicated salesman, he shared a great empathy with his clients, always working in their best interests. Jim strived to always improve his professional abilities and achieved distinction as a Chartered Life Underwriter, (CLU) on September 20, 1977, graduating from The American College of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. As he approached retirement he sold his agency, but still maintained his insurance license until his death. As a sideline Jim also owned and operated "Swenson Monument Sales", selling and setting cemetery headstones; a practice that was started by his grandfather Oscar L. Swenson, continued and developed into a business by his father Melvin, then purchased by Jim, representing the third generation family member to provide this service.
Jim dedicated himself to his community and county. He owned and maintained a main street business for 42 years and throughout his life was a regular contributor of his time and talents to assist as a public servant. He organized numerous fund-raising pancake feeds and served as a member of the Oakland JC's. Jim served as an Oakland City Councilman for 14.5 years, several of those years as council president. In 1993 he began a 20 year tenure as a Burt County Supervisor, recently gaining reelection to his 6th term. Jim helped to initiate many improvements and projects within the community and county, and particularly enjoyed his efforts with the Oakland City Park, Cemetery Board and Tree City Council. Jim also served on the Northeast Nebraska Council on Aging, Northeast Nebraska Economic Development Council and Waste Management Coalition. He enjoyed his role as a public servant, possessing a caring nature, good common sense and a strong determination to do what was right for those that he represented.
Jim committed himself to numerous hobbies including; reading, military history, boxing, metal detecting and wood-working. But his greatest passion was a love of the outdoors, where he spent many hours fishing, hunting, trapping, camping and canoeing on the Logan Creek. His passion for the outdoors has greatly influenced his family. When health issues limited his ability to climb the creek banks he turned his efforts towards photographing nature. Family was very important to Jim and vacations were typically taken with the kids, most notably the annual Minnesota fishing trip. Golf was also a favored activity and while Jim started playing as an adult he quickly gained a reputation as one of the best chippers and putters in the area, a skill that helped him routinely shoot competitive scores and earn numerous trophies. For the kids and grandkids it was a great accomplishment to better him on the golf course, even though he seemed to forget those occasions. Typically he countered by adopting his own set of special rules that seemed to work in his favor. Jim maintained a soft spot in his heart for dogs and had many "canine best friends" over the years, many of which were adopted strays. To the surprise of his kids he even adopted a stray cat recently.
Grandpa Jim was an avid storyteller and during family gatherings would find time to share details of his various mischievous exploits as a youth, his adventures outdoors and his time in the Navy. Those stories were shared frequently, but never seemed to grow old, mostly because the details would change from time to time and it seemed that with each telling Grandpa would reveal more of his super human abilities or describe large fish that were caught but never photographed. On occasion the Grandkids would ask Mom or Dad if Grandpa Swenson really had a talking dog, or "Could Grandpa Jim really jump across the Logan Creek when he was a kid?" It was that same imagination that created bed time stories, such as the Blue Bee series, which was so popular that he often had to tell it via telephone by request. He has maintained a daily journal of his activities and family events for many years, a collection that will be valued by his family.
Jim was a frequent participant in the morning coffee circles, where he would join his friends Kenny, Bob, Jack, Steve, Bill, Ron, Herb, Larry, Ewald and others sorting through the hot issues of the day and offering insight to solve the world's problems. Sometimes his sons Jim and Scott or one of the grandkids would join the group to get 'em stirred up like a nest of hornets by offering a counter opinion.
This is a short summary of a full life, lived by a wonderful man, who will be dearly missed. Jim was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Marlene Rae Johnson; brother-in-law, Curtis Lonnie Johnson; father-in-law, Maurice T. Johnson; mother-in-law, Adeline M. Johnson.
His legacy will continue through those who survive him, including his loving wife Evelyn; sons and daughters-in-law, James A. and Linda Swenson of Greenwood, Nebraska; Scott T. and Paula Swenson of Oakland; grandchildren and great grandchildren by Jim and Linda, Amanda (husband, Chris Chung) and son Jackson, Samantha, Alexander and Nicholas; grandchildren and great grandchildren by Scott and Paula, Tiffiney and son, Riley, Raven (husband, Jay Gerths) and sons, Brock, Connor, Gavin and River, Brittany (husband, Kyle Kreikemeier), and Jordan; brothers and sisters-in-law, Bob and Betty Swenson of Lincoln, Nebraska, Ron and Margene Swenson of Oakland, Tom and Carol Swenson of West Point, Nebraska; brothers-in-law, Maurice R. Johnson, Terry L. Johnson and wife, Julie; numerous nieces and nephews.
FUNERAL SERVICE: Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 2:00 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Oakland.
MILITARY HONORS: American Legion Post No. 46 and Ryan VFW Post No. 5543
BURIAL: Oakland Cemetery
VISITATION: Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 1 - 8 p.m. with the family receiving friends from 6 - 8 p.m. at Pelan Funeral Home in Oakland. Visitation Wednesday will be held at the church one hour prior to the service.
MEMORIALS: To the Family
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