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DONALD GARY SWANSON (DON)
Date of Passing: Apr 25, 2022Send Flowers to the Family Offer Condolences or Memory
DONALD GARY SWANSON
On April 25, 2022, just after the noon hour; Donald Gary Swanson (Soaring Eagle) passed away. A husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, mentor, friend and colleague; he was all these roles and more. He was a good human being, sought out for his sage advice, council and support.
Don is survived by his wife of 69 years, Lorraine (AKA Lollipop) nee Lawrence; his sons, Gary (Maria), Randy (Chris), Rod, Kerry (Pam), Geoffrey, and daughter, Michelle (Kevin). His grandchildren, Donald Jr., Adam (Leah), Stacy (Matt), Scott (Bryanna), Sarah (Ryan), Nicole, Brienna (Juan), Bethany (Roger), Nicholas (Suzy), Lauren (Dylan), Nathaniel (Foxx), Peyton (Melanie), Reed (Jordan) and James (Amy). Great-grandchildren, Mila, Jasmine, Ethan, Liam, Logan, Lyla, Kashton, Harrison, Wyatt, Lorenzo, Javier, Aurelio, Althea, Harmony, Geoffrey and Trace. He is also survived by in-laws, Gail Turner, Greg Lawrence, and many nieces and nephews.
Don was predeceased by his mother Minnie Swanson, father Donald Roy Swanson, mother-in-law Marie Catherine Lawrence, father-in-law Ernest Lawrence, brother Gerry and wife Clarice Swanson, brother Ted Swanson; and in-laws, Joyce McCombe, Murray Lawrence, Harvey Turner, Bruce and Maureen Lawrence.
Don, nicknamed Duke in his younger years, had a remarkable life. Raised by his Mom, Don wandered the streets of the north end as a youngster, made critical life decisions very early in life, started a marriage and large family at 19, built a work career that culminated in becoming a national VP of Sales and Marketing with Canada Post in Ottawa and all through his years learned to self educate himself.
Don started his career after leaving school while having only completed Grade 8. His first job was making deliveries by bike. He then moved into a stock boy position at Marshall Wells. He soon was promoted to travelling sales representative based out of Kenora. This was significant considering that at that time (1950s), those positions were usually filled by men considerably older in age. Don met many wonderful people while travelling through Northwestern Ontario, especially Lyle and Beryl Allan.
He worked his way up becoming sales manager (Thunder Bay) and then was promoted again which brought him back to Winnipeg. He soon after made a move to Sales Manager for Stramit Panesco.
His next career move was to take a position as a marketing representative in sales, in 1973 at Canada Post. However, he didn't last long in this position as he was quickly promoted, thus starting his way up the ladder in Canada Post with a numerous list of positions and postings around the country. In his 24-year career he was, District Director (Manitoba and Saskatchewan), Acting District Director (B.C. and Yukon), General Manager, Network Management (Ottawa), and VP, Commercial Operations, Western Canada (Winnipeg). Anyone who worked with him, knew him as a leader, mentor, and visionary.
Don was involved in the community in many ways with coaching and managing hockey and baseball teams and helping charities like the United Way. In his retirement, he served on many boards including the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, The Health Sciences Centre, and Winport to name a few. He served as an Executive in Resident at the L.H. Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba which brought him much joy in mentoring and coaching business students.
In 1998, Don honoured his heritage and his beloved Grandmother, Charlotte, in becoming a Manitoba Metis Federation member. He further spent his time committed to giving back by volunteering with Winnipeg's Rossbrook House, a neighbourhood drop-in centre for inner city youth. Don was also an advisor for the Chief Peguis Heritage Park Inc. He worked diligently alongside his wife Lorraine to help restore the old stone church at the park. Don was very honoured to be given his spirit name "Soaring Eagle" from the elders at Brokenhead for his work on the park.
He belonged to the Manitoba Club for many years and particularly looked forward to Saturday morning snooker. He also loved Larter's Country Club, he was a longtime member of the Oddfellows, a longtime season ticket holder and a lifetime fan of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He was also a supporter of the Manitoba Theatre Centre and Rainbow Stage.
In terms of travel, where didn't he go!!!!
Don and Lorraine traveled the world and saw many remarkable places.
But for Don, there was only one place that always had his heart, and it was his home in St. Andrews. In 1990, he and Lorraine purchased property near where the Hudson's Bay Reserve used to be and where his ancestors had land. No matter where he traveled or was posted with his career, he always wanted to come home to his cherished, Winnipeg and Manitoba. He lived for his coffees with other local north-enders who "made" it and stayed in touch throughout the years. Don's roots and meager beginnings always guided him.
His legacy has always been his family. Most importantly, he was dedicated to his wife Lorraine and family. His son Geoffrey, who at birth has been physically and mentally challenged, was especially adored by Don for Geoff overcame many odds in his life. Geoff's triumphs were in large part due to the love and support of Don and Lorraine.
He loved his mother and two brothers, his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He took great pride at our family gatherings to stir the pot, especially with his ever-growing family and varying political views. Of course, his most favourite thing to do was to catch Lorraine taking a bite of food, only to make her laugh, and the result not too pleasant for those near her. He was such a character and charming man. He was the life of the party with an infectious sense of humour that could make people laugh. His timing was impeccable there would be silence and then he would deliver his own outrageous and hilarious jokes.
Don always wanted his children to be happy with who they are and what they wanted to pursue. Don's children certainly chose different career paths and/or pursuits. Yet there was no judgement from him. Always there was support for each of our personal goals or dreams.
Gramps was always a phone call away, to share his wisdom of the many obstacles that were laid out in front of him. None were too large or insurmountable to him, as he took every challenge head on and with strength, finesse, and grace. Always lending an ear and with such a warm heart.
Don as you have read, accomplished many things in life. But a true measure of a human being is the intangibles they bring to others. Don in his humble way, always tried to be a good human being. Don believed in kindness towards others and building long lasting relationships. He was brilliant at making anyone he met comfortable, he was adept at seeing another person's perspective and a trusted confidant. We have tried to emulate him but with far less success. There are no words to explain the kind, gentle and simple person he was. We are truly grateful for his life!
The family would like to give thanks to Don and Lorraine's great neighbours in St. Andrews and especially friends Darrell and Joan Diebert for all their help over the years.
The family is also extremely grateful to Dr. Maiti and the compassionate and caring staff at Grace Hospital who tended to Don and us in his last days.
In accordance with his wishes, Don has been cremated.
In lieu of flowers, we ask you consider a donation to, CanadaHelps.org in hopes of brilliant minds living longer or Rossbrook House.
A celebration of Don's life will be held September 10, 2022; at Larter's Golf and Country Club. The family will announce details of this event later this summer.
Expressions of condolence may be sent to www.neilbardalinc.com.
As published in Winnipeg Free Press on May 14, 2022
Condolences & Memories (9 entries)
Dear Lorraine and Family, This is a sad time for each of you, however, Don’s passing affects so many people including our family and his snooker friends at the Manitoba Club. Don was a true competitor. He always had a good story to tell and when he sunk a ball or won a game his smile was infectious. Please accept our love and support as you prepare for the months and years ahead. Don left many wonderful memories. Bob and Rob Cunningham - Posted by: Bob Cunningham (Friend) on: May 20, 2022
Dear Lorraine, we were deeply saddened to hear of Don's passing. Our condolences on the loss of your husband. Don was a wonderful mentor and strong supporter of a great many people. His love knew no limits. Don was a blessing to our family as well. We will always cherish his warmth, kindness and thoughtfulness. May you and your family find comfort in knowing Don was so much loved. Thank you Lorraine for all the good times we shared with you and Don. We will miss him! - Posted by: Ed & Colleen (Colleaque and Friends) on: May 20, 2022
Dear Lorraine. It is with deep sadness that Linda and I wish to offer our sincere condolences on Don's passing. Don was my mentor for my MBA studies 20 years ago and gave me invaluable guidance and advice in the early days of my business. He was a person I respected and cherished very much. He is our lifelong friend. When I heard the news of Don's death, tears came to my eyes as I remembered the time I had spent with him. He will always live on in my heart and may he rest in peace in heaven. - Posted by: Steven Zhang (Friend) on: May 18, 2022
Dear Lorraine, it is difficult to think of a Winnipeg without Don, probably one of, if not its most vocal supporter.... forever! Nor could one ever conceive of anyone more loyal to his family and friends, and always with a smile or a chuckle to bring everyone together. You and Don will forever be an indelible part of our life's experience, and for which we are most grateful. - Posted by: Peter and Julie McInenly (Colleague and Friend) on: May 17, 2022
To my Aunt Lorraine and my cousins and their families, I offer you my condolences on the loss of your husband and father. He truly was an amazing person and I know you will miss him dearly. Thinking of you at this time and sending lots of love! - Posted by: Beverlee Swanson (Niece) on: May 15, 2022
Our sincere condolences to Randy and Cristine for losing this great man who built such a respected life and career for himself and his family. - Posted by: Angie Auer and Thomas Achenbach (Friends) on: May 15, 2022
Dear Lorraine, Marie and I wish to offer our most sincere condoleances. We keep a wonderful memory of Don and I'm sure that you will miss him terribly. - Posted by: Georges Clermont (Colleague) on: May 15, 2022
Don was a great guy. My parents have been friends with Don and Lorraine for more than 65 years. Times spent in Thunder Bay and Winnipeg as well as at the family cottages at Whyteold were always special with the Swansons. Don was a person who was always interested in your life. Always cane in the room either a smile. Our family and especially my parents are saddened by his passing. - Posted by: Brenda Allan (Friend of my parents) on: May 14, 2022
Great man. Remember him well. Our condolences Randy. - Posted by: Bob and Linda Swain (Friend) on: May 14, 2022
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