Donald H. Swanson - Morris Nilsen Funeral Chapel

July 16, 1935 - January 27, 2023

Donald H. Swanson, age 87, of Medina, formerly of Richfield, passed away in his sleep on Friday, January 27, 2023. Survived by his wife of 66 years, Dorothy; daughter, Glorie (Brent) Balfanz; son, Jeff (Liz) Swanson; grandchildren, Brandon (Cassandra) Balfanz, Allison (Ryan) Bauman, Bryce (Amanda) Balfanz, Cole Swanson, and Shayna Swanson; great-grandchildren, Lincoln, Kailey and Lola. Also survived by brother, Charles Swanson; brother-in-law, Bud Nordstrom and many nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by parents, Luther and Pearl Swanson; brother, Clinton Swanson; sister and brother-in-law, Carol and Earl Heyerdahl; brother and sister-in-law, Ross and Pat Swanson; sister, Marilyn Nordstrom and sister and brother-in-law, Therine and Don Haines; sister-in-law, Eleanor "Toodie" Swanson.

Don graduated from Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis in 1954. After graduation, Don joined the US Army where he eventually advanced to the rank of Sergeant. He married his high school sweetheart in 1956. They lived and raised their children in Richfield, MN while Don worked at the Star & Tribune for 30 years. After retiring, he managed Buck Hill's ski rental shop, where he had always been active as a Ski Patrol. He also started his own handyman service at this time.

Don was an avid golfer, but his main passion was his lake place on Garfield Lake in Laporte, MN. Don and Dorothy loved sharing their lake place with anyone and everyone and wee constantly surrounded by family and friends. They were often found on the water with their Glastron boat. How many people learned to water ski behind that boat, we will never know. Don would spend whatever time was needed to teach a new water skier how to ski. That boat, and Don, made for many happy Labor Day memories.

Don was an active member of Woodlake Lutheran Church in Richfield, MN, where he was a leader of the church youth group for many years, as well as other leadership roles. Working with youth was a theme for Don and he was masterful at it. While working at the Star Tribune he was a route supervisor, working with paper boys and girls to get your paper delivered.

A livestream of the service is available at

Memorials preferred to Children's Minnesota or Woodlake Lutheran Church.

Don was a good man and will be greatly missed by those of us who knew and loved him.


  1. Bob and Nancy Bjornlund says:

    Dorothy and Family,

    We share our condolences with you at Don’s death. It was always good to visit with Don when he stopped in at the church in Minnetonka. He was an upbeat and gracious person. Thankfully, let us remember “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Romans 14:8)

    With heartfelt sympathy and prayers,
    Bob and Nancy Bjornlund

  2. Keith Orner says:

    So sorry to hear about Don’s passing. He and Dorothy were such a positive influence on me and other Crusaders during our high school years at Woodlake Church.

  3. Bill and Sandy Lemcke says:

    Sincere sympathy to you Dorothy. We have fond memories of our visits and fellowship after church in Laporte. Our thoughts are with you during this sad time.

  4. Joyce Groth says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Dorothy. I just read it now when looking up Chad Myre on the website. I would have been at the funeral if I had known but I don’t take the paper anymore.
    We had a lot of good times together at Woodlake. Great Memories. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Chuck was 86 when he died. All your memories will be so precious for you.

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