Swensen, Richard David
November 10, 1930 – January 10, 2019
Age 88 of Arden Hills. Richard “Dick” David Swensen passed away peacefully on January 10, 2019 at The Pillars Hospice, Oakdale. He was born November 10, 1930 in Waverly, Iowa to Alf and Alice (Wilharm) Swensen. He married Grace Marie Hartman on August 3, 1952. They lived in Ames and Iowa City, Iowa; Durham, North Carolina; and then River Falls, Wisconsin for 50 years before moving to Arden Hills, Minnesota.
Dick graduated from Waverly High School in 1948, received a BA from Wartburg College in 1952 and a PhD in Physical Chemistry from the University of Iowa in 1961. He served for the Atomic Energy Commission. He joined the faculty of Wisconsin State College, River Falls in 1955, where he taught chemistry, physics, mathematics, and team-taught Great Ideas in Science. In 1970 he was selected by seniors and alumni as the Johnson Foundation Distinguished Professor. He served as chairman of the chemistry department and, from 1969 to 1988, as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He returned to teaching and retired in 1993. He instituted faculty exchanges in Europe and the Pacific Rim and brought numerous internationally recognized individuals and groups to the campus.
Dick found joy in the strength of the faculty, the positive accreditation of college programs, and the designation by the Board of Regents of the undergraduate programs in Chemistry and Physics as Centers of Excellence for the University System.
In recognition of his many contributions to the college, the Richard D. Swensen Sundial was constructed on the River Falls campus. At the time of dedication, it was the largest, most accurate vertical face sundial in the world.
His many community activities included member and vice president of the River Falls Board of Education, member and chair of the Board of Deacons, St. Andrews (Ames), and Ezekiel Lutheran Churches. In his youth he obtained the rank of Eagle Scout.
Grace and Dick were deeply involved in international programs, having arranged presentations in the Midwest for some 1400 guests in 50 international groups from 12 countries. He initiated the River Falls High School exchange with Bayreuth, Germany.
He consulted for numerous programs to Europe, East Europe, and the Far East. He initiated the first UWRF music tour to Europe and then to the Far East.
Dick and Grace were among 31 who were awarded the Department of State’s Millennium International Volunteer Award in 2000 for their contributions to international educational and cultural exchange and enhancing the cause of global understanding. The award was part of an official program of the White House Millennium Council.
With all his accomplishments he was most proud of his family, and he and Grace gathered them often. Dick and Grace and their six children travelled the world together and found comfort in time spent with each other. His love for photography, travel, music, bringing people together, good food, science, and most of all family lives on in and enriches his family.
He was preceded in death by grandson Thomas, and survived by wife Grace; children David (Meghan) of Killingworth, CT; Stephen (Lynn) of Heber City, UT; Linda Haefemeyer (Jeffrey) of St. Paul, MN; Jane of Washington D.C.; Danny (Susan) of Arden Hills, MN; and Carolyn Popp (Robert) of Liverpool, NY; grandchildren Victoria (Adam), Alexander, Timothy (Amber), Eamonn, Galen, Scott, Callie, Matthew, Lauren, Madeline (Matt), Daniel (Camille), Anne-Marie (Peter), Veronique, Anna, Joseph, Erik, Nicole, Tyler, and Emily; great grandchildren Hadley, Laney and David.
Memorials may be given to UW-RF Richard and Grace Swensen Scholarship, Lutheran World Relief, and St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church in St. Paul, MN.
A Memorial Service will be held at St. Anthony Park Lutheran Church in St. Paul, MN on Saturday, February 2 at 2 p.m. (Published in Waverly Democrat on Jan. 22, 2019).