Donald “Swanee” Swanson


Donald Jerome “Swanee” Swanson was born in Winona, MN on April 5, 1955, to Ray and Patricia “Pat” Swanson.  Don passed away on October 19th, 2023, surrounded by his family after a long battle with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

Don grew up in the Rollingstone area, traveling all over the country but eventually returning to the farm on top of the hill outside Minneiska.  He enrolled in the Army and enjoyed his time in the service.  He shared stories often but one of the best times of his life was when he was stationed in Alaska.  Don loved few things more than nature, dogs, and softball.  Don felt best outside, even if it was winter camping in below zero temperatures, during rainstorms, or incessant mosquito outbreaks in the Boundary Waters.  He was known as a steward for nature, for taking care of it, and ensuring that it would be the same for years to come.  He lived by the motto “leave no trace”, he never left campsites a mess and always picked up trash he found along his travels.  He enjoyed walking, camping, fishing, and hunting.  He would backpack for days.  He would choose to sleep outside at his favorite place up north, the cabin, rather than sleep inside anyplace.  Some of his best memories revolved around hunting, especially the trips to Canada.

Don was an avid dog owner and trainer. He owned dogs all his life and was known as the guy to “bring the tough dogs to” for training.  He would mix discipline, companionship, and consistency to produce the best results in dogs.  While he had many, many dogs, no dog will ever measure up to his favorite, Sam. Whom we are certain Don will hug first at the pearly gates when he gets there.

Don played softball for more years than he should have, finally throwing in the towel after more than 40 years on the field.  Don was known to sometimes be in four leagues at times and playing tournaments on the weekend.  He was a staple on the field and always went all out for the plays, often hurting himself in the process.

Don had many careers over his lifetime, including running a wrecker service, bartending, mechanic, cook, painter, handyman.

Don has an extensive family, including his ex-wife and friend, Linda Bradford, Daughters, Tiffany (Scott) Kreisher and Katherine (Mike) Trnka, Sons, Kenneth Bradford, Don (Casey) Bradford, Brandon Schlueter, Devon Swanson, A.J. Swanson, and Kevin Mulcahy.  Don is also survived by his 8 brothers and sisters; Larry (Diane) Swanson, Gene (Lori) Swanson, Ken (Deb) Swanson, Mike (Jenny) Swanson, Verna (Kent) Crary, Lauritz (Brian) Sense, Rindy (Bob) Mulheron and Cheryl (Rick) Muras; 18 grandchildren, and 13 great grandchildren. Don also has so many aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins that we are unable to list them all, though they are all very loved.

Don was preceded in death by his parents, Ray and Pat Swanson, son, Don Bradford, and granddaughter, Brittany Bradford.

Services will be October 28 at 11:00 a.m. at Holy Trinity Church in Rollingstone, luncheon to follow at the Rollingstone Community Center.

Don will have a memorial plaque in the Minneiska Cemetery near his parents. We will not be having a burial service.

Memories and condolences of Don may be shared at

4 thoughts on “Donald “Swanee” Swanson

  1. My heart goes out to all of the family members, treasure your memories that you spent with him, and know that he is in a better place with his loved ones in heaven.
    My thoughts and prayers to all. He will be missed.

  2. Wow, where did the years go? What a guy he was!!! Don and I were close friends in the early 80’s.
    I spent many a duck and goose season hunting with Don and Ray, feels hunting geese on the hill above Rollingstone and on the river; canoeing the Whitewater River and jump shooting Mallards and Woodies, camping in Whitewater, all seasons of the year, yes WINTER too! Lots of memories trout fishing and camping for trout opener in Crystal Springs and Elba.
    Don was “Best Man” in my wedding. Unfortunately, from then on life happened, our friendship took a pause while my kids and a wife became priority, unfortunately Don and I lost touch over the years. We reconnected briefly in the early 2000’s for a short time. Same ole’ Don! What a guy!!
    I will always cherish his friendship, the memories are my souvenir’s. My thoughts and prayers are for the family and friends of Don, he will be missed by so many. Peace and Strength to all in the days ahead. Rest in Peace Don!

  3. My deepest sympathy to the Swanson family. I have many great memories of Don when he worked at Drenckhahn’s Harbor.

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