Donald E. Swanson, aged 88, died on October 8, 2013 at Glenbrook Hospital from complications from a series of strokes and pneumonia.
Mr. Swanson is survived by his wife, Valerie (Walz) Swanson of Northbrook, two children: Kent (Lora) Swanson of Evanston and Leigh Ann (Michael) Holzman of Chicago. He also leaves behind five grandchildren, Alana Swanson, Alex Swanson, Nicholas Holzman, Matthew Holzman and Patrick Holzman.
Donald was a veteran of WWII, where he served with distinction as a BAR rifleman, earning several medals, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star. He grew up in Morris, Illinois and the north side of Chicago. He was the only surviving son of John and Madeline Swanson, both Swedish immigrants. After the Army deferred his service to allow Donald to graduate from Lakeview High School in June 1943, he deployed to France, Belgium and Germany before he was wounded in Germany in 1944. After his rehabilitation, he attended DePaul University on the GI Bill, graduating in 1951.
Donald worked for the Exchange National Bank and Kraft Foods, but he made his long-term career at The Quaker Oats Company where he worked for 37 years. While he enjoyed the corporate world, his true passion was entrepreneurship and he began investing in real estate in the mid-1950s. He eventually owned rental apartments and stores in numerous Chicago neighborhoods, including Rogers Park, Albany Park, Edgewater and Austin, and later Milwaukee, WI. He personally managed the buildings and treated tenants, contractors and employees with respect and compassion.
Donald’s other true passion was family and friends. He met his wife of 56 years, Valerie, in a church singles group. After a short engagement, they were married at Immanuel Lutheran Church in 1957. They were strongly rooted in their community and lived in only two homes over this lengthy span. Both homes hosted many gatherings of family and friends. New Year’s Eve parties and dinner parties that continued late into the night and huge family Easter Egg hunts will remain a treasured memory for many. Many events included piano by Donald and a bit of singing from the guests. You could always count on Stardust to cap off the concert. Donald was an active member of Trinity Lutheran church for 40 years and was a fixture as an usher at the late service.
Funeral services will be private. There will be a Celebration of Life Luncheon at 12:00 PM on Saturday, November 2. Memorial donations in Donald’s name may be made to Misericordia Heart of Mercy (http://www.misericordia.com/donations/) or to one of the designated funds in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (https://community.elca.org/supportELCAministry). Donald will be interred in a family plot at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.