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Obituaries: Helen M. Swanson


August 9, 2019

Helen M. Swanson, 87, passed away peacefully Tuesday, Aug. 6, at her home in Carlton. Born on Dec. 29, 1931, in Duluth to Walter Hammerbeck and Mabel (Dehli) Hammerbeck, Helen graduated from Denfeld High School in 1949. She was united in marriage to Leslie E. Swanson on April 28, 1950, in Duluth.

Helen and Les raised their young family of five children in Hermantown until 1968 when the Swansons moved to Carlton, purchasing the former residence of Henry Oldenburg. The home became the life's work of the couple and their family, as Les restored the dilapidated home to its former elegance. Along with raising her children, Helen worked many years as a telephone operator for Northwestern Bell and AT&T, but also made time to prepare delicious meals for her family and perfect the art of the spritz cookie.

Following Les' death in 2011, the Oldenburg House, officially added to the National Register of Historic Homes in 2006, was purchased by Helen's son Glenn and his wife, Emily, who have further renovated and updated the home into a B&B and regional arts venue, where Helen continued to reside. Helen welcomed guests with her calm acceptance and witty humor - not to mention a game of Scrabble if guests were up to the challenge. She was a voracious reader and lover of word games of all kinds.Those privileged to know her cherished her honesty, generosity, and quiet dignity. She spoke highly of everyone in her life, especially her children, and treated all those she met with kindness and support. She will be lovingly remembered for her beautiful quilts, her competitiveness at the gameboard (and casino), her delicious baking, her disarming laugh, her melodic humming, and her contagious optimism.

She is preceded in death by her parents; husband, Leslie Swanson; son Wayne Swanson; siblings I'Anne Rowe and Paul Hammerbeck; and daughter-in-law Mary Swanson.

Helen is survived by siblings Louise Sellers and Alan Hammerbeck; children Keith Swanson, Glenn (Emily) Swanson, Janet (Michael Garro) Swanson and Joel (Trish) Swanson; 19 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren; and sister- and brother-in-law Arlene and Dean Reese.

Visitation: 3-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at the J.M. Paine Presbyterian Church in Carlton.

A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, Sept. 15, from 11:11 a.m. (Helen's request) to 2:30 p.m. at Oldenburg House, 604 Chestnut Ave. in Carlton.


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