Celebrating the life of Garth J. Swanson
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Garth was born November 16, 1947, in Brainerd, Minnesota, son of the late Edwin and Genevieve (James) Swanson. He is survived by his beloved wife, Freida Swanson of Merrill; two daughters, Rachael (Ryu) Mizuno of Chicago and Carrie (Jon) Dulin of Rhinelander; one son, Zachary (Misti) Swanson of Kronenwetter; four grandchildren, Sayaka and Keitaro Mizuno, Isaac Dulin and Arleigh Swanson; one sister-in-law, Mary Smith of Rice Lake; and treasured dog, Stasha. Garth was preceded in death by his parents, Edwin and Genevieve Swanson; and one brother, Donald Smith.
Garth enlisted in the United States Navy on July 8, 1968 where he served as an advisor to Vietnamese gun boat units. While in Vietnam, he was also active in the Mobile Riverine Force, a U.S. Army and U.S. Navy coalition that comprised a significant portion of the Brown Water Navy. Garth married Freida Laphen on February 5, 1972 before being honorably discharged from the Navy on May 5, 1972.
Garth began his teaching career in Clayton, Wisconsin and moved to Merrill in 1977 where he took a position as a 6th grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School. Garth moved to Alaska for two years where he continued his career in education until he and his family returned to Merrill where he took a position working in special education. He eventually became the principal at the former Scott and Midway Elementary Schools. Garth spent the majority of his adult life devoted to shaping and inspiring the young minds of the Merrill community until his retirement as principal of Washington Elementary School in 2001.
With a passion for public service matched only by the fondness for his dog, Stasha, Garth served on the Lincoln County Board for three years. He enjoyed fishing, hunting, bird watching, reading, and having coffee with his coffee groups. He saved his deepest love, however, for his grandchildren who he referred to as his “best gift ever.” Garth was a member of the Knights of Columbus Father Rene Menard Council 1133, Merrill.
Visitation will be from 4:00 P.M. until 7:00 P.M. on Friday, September 23, 2016 at the Taylor-Stine Funeral Home, Merrill. The Knights of Columbus will conduct a service of remembrance starting at 6:45 PM Friday at the funeral home. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 A.M. Saturday, September 24, 2016, at the Holy Cross Chapel at Bell Tower Residence, Merrill. Father Charles Hoffmann will preside. Burial will take place at St. Francis Xavier Veterans Memorial with graveside military rites conducted by V.F.W. Post 1638, Merrill.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the charity of your choice.
903 E. Third Street
Merrill, WI 54452
The Knights of Columbus Father Rene Menard Council 1133, Merrill, will conduct a service of remembrance at 6:45 PM Friday at the funeral home.
1500 O'Day St.
Merrill, WI 54452