Dr. Jane E. Swanson


Dr. Jane Ellen Swanson died after 76 years on this earth. She wrung every day dry with the gusto of a zealot. She beat cancer several times, she had diabetes and periods of clinical depression, but she persevered and thrived nonetheless.
On Tuesday, April 23 she died sleeping in her own bed just as she wanted; with several cats at her side and her devoted husband of 54 years puttering in the kitchen. The day before she had called her beloved grandson and chattered gibberish with him over the speaker phone. Her body hurt, and she was often tired, but she would never be deterred from traveling, reading voraciously or making time for others.
Born and raised in upstate New York with her younger brother, William, she was a salutatorian at Newark High School before attending the University of Rochester. She then transferred to Michigan State University, where she met and married Bill Swanson and stayed with him through her PhD studies and the raising of two children.
She traveled the world several times over, became a university professor; taught in China, India, Canada and Scandinavia, she directed several social work and state agencies, bred internationally renowned Norwegian Forest Cats, moved to Old Mission Peninsula and lived a life filled with curiosity and challenges. The world is less colorful after losing a woman so eclectic, irascible, unpredictable, loving, intelligent and utterly complex.
She is survived by her loving husband, Bill; her daughter, Krysti; son, Will; and three grandchildren.
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 1 at the Unitarian Congregation, 6726 Center Road, Traverse City, MI 49686.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Planned Parenthood (www.weareplannedparenthood.org ) or the Humane Society of Greater Rochester (www.lollypop.org/get-involved/give-today).
The family is being cared for by the Reynolds Jonkhoff Funeral Home.
Published on April 30, 2019
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12 posts

Daniel Finley
Jun 08, 2019
My wife and I drove all the way from Chelsea MI to meet Jane and her sweetheart of a husband for a personal interview to buy our Norwegian Forest Cat "Pudge", who is the most loveable, smartest cat we have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Jane's commitment to her cats is inspiring, from one cat lover to another, God Gless you Jane! My heart goes out to your husband and family. -/s/ Daniel Finley and Wife Tera.
Jacquelyn Hexham
May 06, 2019
Dr. Swanson was an amazing mentor and friend, as well as my favorite professor. I was her graduate assistant during my masters in social work programming. I had the highest regard for her, her energy, her heart, her commitment to make this world a better place for everyone! I learned to be a social worker by her example, first and foremost. She had the most amazing shoes, smiles, and compassion of anyone I met. I will never forget the day we put a unique rug and rocking chair in her office. Keep smiling, rocking, and helping in this next journey!!
Sue tart
May 02, 2019
I will always remember jane as a person who loved her Wegies. I was honored to be able to have one of her kittens as my own, TT, which Jane was able to see as she became an adult. She always smiled and shamed her cat stories which I loved. She was a kind person and I know she had a deep love in her heart for her cats. She will truly be missed but will be remembered.
Kim Chenault
May 01, 2019
My Dear Bill,
My heart is breaking for you, your family and all who loved Jane.

My deepest condolences to all of you. Jane was such a special lady and she will always hold a piece of my heart.
Heather Diehl & Pablito
May 01, 2019
So very sorry for your loss! Jane and you both were very kind to me and I appreciate you both. Hugs to you Bill

Heather & Pablito
Geri and Dave McKerlies
May 01, 2019
Bill so sorry for your lost. I smile when I remember the good times at the catshows and dinners
Robin Madigan
May 01, 2019
The world shines a little less bright with her passing. My deepest sympathy to her family.
Debbie Lopeman
May 01, 2019
What a great lady she was. She will be missed by all of her cat fancy friends. She always had a smile on her face at the shows. RIP Jane
jackie lp
May 01, 2019
The cat fancy has loss a great person that gave us wonderful Wegies to enjoy. Always a smilie face and on time to the show rings. Wishing you Bill ,happy thoughts of all the great times you & Jane had together wether at a cat show or a stroll together. Sorry about the loosing Jane but now she is free of hurting & can look down upon us with her smiles Jackie lp
Rick Hoskinson
May 01, 2019
Dear Bill

I was shocked and saddened to hear of Jane's untimely death. She was such a delightful person who I was honored to know.

You and your family are in my thoughts at this sad time.

"There is no death
Tho stars go down
To rise upon some fairer shore,
And bright in heavens jeweled crown,
They sparkle, they shine
Shine on Jane! Shine on.
Peppie Hills
May 01, 2019
Bill and family, So very sorry to hear of Jane's passing...I will miss seeing her smiling face and listening to her great wisdom...Rest in peace Jane....my heart is breaking😿
Apr 30, 2019
I’m so very sorry for your loss. I know all to well the hurt you are feeling now. I wanted to share a scripture with you that has helped me many times. Looking forward to the time when the words at Revelation 21:3,4 are a reality. A time when sickness, suffering, pain and even death will be no more. A time when Gods promise of an earthly resurrection at John 5:28,29 are fulfilled on a grand scale. Until then you will be in my thoughts and prayers.