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He was a good guy with great intentions and a personal philosophy summed up in his response to the Class of '61 Dedication of their Yearbook to him. Essentially, he said one should set goals, believe you will accomplish them, and set out to do so immediately. And he is the one person with whom I have a clear memory of a conversation about my career before leaving high school.
Ultimately he earned a Doctorate in Educational Administration and became the Stillwater, MN, High School Principal. I happened to bump into him there in the late 80s and he was the same guy that we knew at NKHS.
Just recently I had a conversation with a fellow who graduated from Stillwater in the mid-80s. He was a bit down on his luck and had made some choices in life that were not helping him greatly, but he seemed to have a warm spot for Big Jon. Apparently this fellow had once been "encouraged" to pull the fire alarm at school, did so, and was called on the carpet in front of Swenson.
|Yearbook Dedication by the Class of '61|
When we were sophomores Swenson set up a basketball "league" in our PE class, with self-reporting of wins and losses, all of them recorded on a paper thumb-tacked to the bulletin board between the gym floor and steps to the locker room. Somehow there was a difference of opinion as to who had won which games, and memories seemed to get a bit out of whack as to whether Team A or Team B had won and what the score was, so there he was standing at the bulletin board, trying to sort it all out, with numerous individuals trying to insert their own version of the truth.
It wasn't going so well, especially when John Roberts very correctly said, "This can't be right because the number of all the wins when added up HAVE TO equal the number of losses!" With that, Swenson ripped the page off the wall and marched into the coaches room, and the league was over. We never heard another word about it again.
He was a good guy, even if his faith and optimism sometimes got undermined by reality.