Cover photo for Lois Joan Alfrieda Swanson's Obituary
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1928 Lois 2024

Lois Joan Alfrieda Swanson

April 26, 1928 — February 18, 2024

Lois Joan Alfrieda Pamp was born on April 26, 1928 to the Reverend Frederic Pamp and Susanna (Sanna) Hagstom Pamp in Boston, Massachusetts.   Lois was by far the youngest of seven children, 15 years younger than her oldest sibling Eunice and six years younger than her next oldest David.      Its safe to say that Sanna did not plan on giving birth at age 40.  Lois was raised in the conservative Swedish Covenant tradition of her grandparents who were all immigrants from Sweden. In addition to her father both of her grandfathers were Swedish Covenant preachers and by necessity her mother and both her grandmothers were minster’s wives.   Her memories of Boston include living in the two story white house in Roslindale with her large family,  riding the Swanboats in the Public Garden and attending the large brick church at Forrest Hills designed by a reputable architectural firm in the Swedish church style.   Through prayer and faith and a few of the wealthier members,  her father raised the money needed to build this impressive building during the depression.   In the summer the family camped   in Northfield, Massachusetts so her father could attend the Conference of Preachers and hear Dwight Moody and the other great preachers of the day. We have a photograph of Grandpa Pamp on a conference break in a starched white shirt and pleated trousers standing next to the tent while Grandma Pamp was cooking over a campfire and Lois was doing the dishes.

 In 1937 her father accepted a position at a church in Evanston, Illinois where Lois attended elementary and high school.   Evanston was on Lake Michigan where her then 19 year old sister Phyllis taught Lois to swim which started her lifelong passion in the summer months and is believed to have contributed to her longevity.    A highlight of her elementary school years was in 1938 when 10 year old Lois and her 25 year old  sister Eunice curtsied on cue before  Crown Prince Gustav Adolf the  future King of Sweden at Soldiers Field during the Chicago celebration of the Swedish Tercentenary attended by 75,000 people, an event organized and led by her father.  At about this time her 24 year old sister Alice was a registered nurse and  one of the first stewardesses hired by United Airlines.  

Lois was 13 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and all three of her brothers  served in active duty during the war.  Her 26 year old brother Fred was drafted and served in  Army Intelligence in Europe; 21 year old Arvid enlisted in the Army Air Corps as a B25 bomber pilot out of North Africa and Italy;  and 19 year old David enlisted in the Navy and served as a dive bomber pilot in the Pacific theatre.   During their entire service, Lois wrote letters to her brothers and compiled a scrapbook that described their service consisting of their photographs and letters that they sent home.  She recalled that while she attended Nichols Middle School in Evanston that it was her patriotic duty to stop playing tennis during gym class so they could run to the fence and wave at the soldiers as they passed by on a troop train.

            Growing up in the Swedish Covenant Church was a challenge for all the Pamp children. They were subject to the strict bans on alcohol and tobacco consumption like other Protestant denominations of the day.  But in addition, the Covenant banned  attending movies and dances.  By the time she reached high school her siblings were all adults and beyond the control of her parents and the strictures of the church. But not for Lois  who on one occasion was able to see a movie musical called Maytime starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.  She was so impressed that she wrote a movie review for the local paper which was read and reported by a shocked member of the Covenant which led to a resolution at the annual Covenant Meeting that her father be ejected from the denomination for failing to control his daughter.

            Having been accelerated in elementary school by the time of her graduation from high school in 1944 at the age of 16 her father had taken a position at North Park  Seminary in Chicago and the family moved to Sawyer Avenue in North Park.  She had ambitions to attend Northwestern University in Evanston but due to the family’s economic situation she had to settle for North Park Junior College where she could attend for free.  Despite their reservations of allowing their 16 year old daughter to room on campus she convinced her parents to let her move into a dorm for the fall semester of 1944.  As if proving that her parents’ reservations of letting their 16 year old daughter live in a college dorm were valid, Lois took full advantage of her new found freedom and settled into an active college social life attending dances where she danced with servicemen on  leave, cutting classes and sunbathing on the roof outside the window of her dorm room.   She did not do a lot of studying.   Her dorm roommate Joyce Appel said that Lois could get away with it because she was so smart.   Due to the war and the  shortage of men to fill jobs Lois and her college girlfriends worked in the local post office during the Christmas season sorting mail until 6 a.m. before the next day’s delivery.  Photographs of their employment during this time show a lot of sleeping and not a lot of sorting.     

All of her college friends had nicknames including her roommate Bro and girlfriends Deeky, Gus, Marn and Max.  Lois’s nickname was naturally “Pamp” probably because it was so unusual. This name meaning “heavy sword” in Swedish  was assigned to her Great Grandfather Anders Hansson during his service in the Swedish cavalry during the Napoleonic Era to remedy the confusion caused by the patrynomic tradition where a son’s surname is taken from his father’s first name with the addition of “son”  to avoid too many Anderssons,, Hanssons and Jonssons in military service.

  One nickname for a North Park Seminary Student stands out of her crowd of friends:   “Spjut” which means “spear” in Swedish which he earned when he dressed up like a Viking complete with horned helmet, long haired wig, shield and a spear instead of the traditional axe or sword.    This was the nickname of a handsome farmboy with dark wavy hair from Delhi, California who sang a  beautiful tenor in the North Park College Quartet. His name was Wesley Axel Swanson who was eight years older than Lois.  They dated, broke up, got back together, eventually fell in love, became engaged in 1946 and married on June 6, 1947.  This was the beginning of Lois’s  life as a third generation minister’s wife.

            Following their wedding Wes and Lois took up residence in Plainfield, New Jersey where Wes served a Swedish Covenant Church and their first born Michael David was born on June 12, 1948.  After Wes accepted a call from a church in the Bronx, New York, their daughter Marny Jean was born there on September  5, 1950.  By 1955 the family had moved to Omaha, Nebraska where Wes  accepted  another call and Mark Wesley was born on February 27 and Mitchell Lee was born on December 9, 1956.  With a growing family and no prospect of a pension in the Covenant Church, Wes became an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church.

            In September 1959 Lois and her family moved to Sacramento, California where Wes became Assistant Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church.  According to Lois, the almost 10 years they spent in Sacramento and at Westminster were the best years of their lives.  Most of those years were spent at 1816 43rd Street in the neighborhood now referred to as Elmhurst.  There were about 35 children living on their block between T and R Streets,  including the four Parsons kids who lived across the street with their parents Patty and Kemper who were active members of Westminster and became lifelong friends of Wes and Lois.   From their home the  Swanson kids could safely walk the three blocks to Coloma Elementary School and seven blocks to the old California State Fairgrounds which is now UC Davis Medical Center Campus.  The Swanson kids have many memories of playing ditch and kick the can, baseball, football and water balloon fights in the summer with the many neighbor kids.  Living two houses away from the Southern Pacific Railroad right of way provided many opportunities for children to explore, ride  bikes and play.  Beyond the railroad tracks was the back fence of East Lawn Cemetery which provided even more space to fly kites, throw a boomerang, and explore and challenge their imaginations in a spooky graveyard at least until the cemetery guard drove after them at a high rate of speed in a jeep which scattered the neighborhood kids who were so afraid to step on graves that they ran like gazelles leaping every other step toward the back fence to quickly climb and escape over the railroad tracks and back into the neighborhood.  Needless to say, Lois was unaware of these activities.  

            As minister’s wife Lois was very active at Westminster:  singing in the choir and attending Westminster Women’s groups and Mariners groups, often receiving invitations and attending multiple group functions, dinners, pool parties, potlucks, talent shows,  and game nights, whatever activity a minister’s wife was expected to attend.   The Swansons were frequently gifted with firewood, produce, wild game shot and fish caught by members.  In addition Lois had an open invitation to swim at Bob and Irene Moore’s pool in Land Park which she took full advantage of with her kids.  After each pool visit Lois mastered the art of throwing together a quick summer meal of shrimp salads and tuna stuffed tomatoes.    One of the most memorable events of the church year was Christmas Eve.   After a Swedish meal of meatballs, potato sausage, pickled herring, cheeses and cured meats (like the infamous headcheese) and rice pudding for desert; presents were opened in the Swedish tradition before rushing off  to the 11 p.m. Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at Wesminster.  When the service ended after midnight our whole family was invited to the home of the head of staff for a party  which meant that the Swanson kids could stay up until the early hours of Christmas Day.

            Wes’s starting salary in 1959 was $450 per month plus rental allowance and car expense.  With college expenses on the horizon and all the children in school, Lois started to explore the idea of going to work.  But first she needed her driver’s license.   All of the Swanson kids remember with great amusement their Dad attempting to teach their Mom how to park the car which  ended in failure and deteriorated into argument.  When their neighbor Patty Parsons learned that Lois couldn’t drive she stepped up, watched the younger kids while Lois was taking drivers training and drove her to the DMV for her driver’s test.  Once licensed Lois ultimately obtained employment in the administrative offices of the Sacramento Builder’s Exchange on 13th and T Streets where she worked until 1969.

            In the tenth year of his Sacramento pastorate Wes took a position in Ventura, California.  While there Lois worked for the Schlumberger Oil Services Company and eventually the Ventura County Welfare Office where she worked as a case worker which required home visits to make sure the recipients were complying with the frequently changing California eligibility rules.  

            Their next move was to Incline Village, Nevada where Wes became Pastor at the local Presbyterian Church.   After some time Lois was able to obtain employment as a case worker at the Placer County Welfare Office in the village of Carnelian Bay where she was able to walk across the highway to swim in Lake Tahoe during her lunch hour in the summer.

            From Lake Tahoe Wes took a two year position as chaplain at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska, another highlight of their many moves.  Their apartment was right on the Sitka Sound where they could watch the humpback whales breach and the bald eagles dive for fish and listen to the seals constant barking.  During this time Lois was able to accompany Wes when he traveled to visit remote Tlinget, Inupiat and Yupik villages as part of his duties as chaplain. 

            Their final stop before retirement was Eastern Oregon where Wes served as Interim Pastor for Umatilla and Hermiston Presbyterian Churches until he retired in 1985.  Upon moving to Pendleton, Oregon Wes worked part time at the Presbyterian Church and Lois started working at the local prison for the Oregon Department of Corrections which required her to be proficient in the use of firearms including a shotgun much to the amusement of her then grown children. A highlight of their time in Oregon was their long dreamed of trip to Sweden and Norway in the summer of 1991 with a Swedish Covenant tour group.  They were both able to visit the farms and churches  where their grandparents lived and worshipped. Lois was able to sit in the row assigned to her grandmother Johanna’s family in a beautiful wooden church in Habo,  Sweden.   Her father preached at the same church when her parents were on a tour of churches in Sweden in 1949.  On this trip  she finally met her dear cousin Brit Boren after exchanging many letters with her since her childhood.

At about the time of Lois’s retirement in April 1993 Wes was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis.  Their retirement plan was to move back to the place of their fondest memories in Sacramento and worship at Westminster.  Once the move was complete Wes’s health declined and he passed away at the age of 73 on September 21, 1993.  Despite the heartbreak of not being able to enjoy her retirement with Wes, she commenced an active retirement attending the Westminster Sofia Women’s Circle and working in the church office, swimming in the summer and seeing  plays in Ashland and Sacramento.   By the time of her retirement Lois had eight   grandchildren, four of them in Sacramento and was able to be involved in their many activities.  Ultimately she had eleven grandchildren and traveled to Pittsburgh and Santa Cruz to visit the others.  To her grandchildren she was “GLo”.  Eventually she became a Great Grandmother to 12 Great Grandchildren and thereafter signed her name “GGLo”.

At the age of 84 Lois began to experience difficulty breathing  when she climbed stairs and was diagnosed with a leaking heart valve.  She underwent  valve replacement surgery in 2013 after which she declared that she could think more clearly and had more energy.  She enjoyed the camaraderie of her heart rehab therapy gym at Mercy General Hospital so much that she continued to work out there 2-3 times per week for the next ten years.  Lois was still quite active, swimming daily in the summer in the pool a short walk from her condo, attending plays and her Sofia Group and  going to church, living independently and driving until her 93rd birthday.  She was able to return to Sweden with her daughter Marny, son Mark, grandson Noah and granddaughter Britta and for a final visit with her cousin Brit and Brit’s husband Rune Boren in 2004.  A highlight of this trip was visiting beautiful Lake Siljan where her mother stayed in 1949  during her father’s 1949 preaching tour.  In 2008 she visited the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor to honor her brother David’s friend Tom Erickson who was shot down  over Iwo Jima and buried at sea.  On the same trip she finally overcame her fear of breathing through a snorkel and wearing a mask on a trip to the reef at Molokini Crater off of Maui.   In addition she revisited the churches and her homes in Evanston, North Park, Omaha, Boston and the Bronx and attended multiple Pamp family reunions in Chicago; Breckenridge, Colorado; Port Ludlow, Washington; Santa Ynez and San Diego.  Until her early 80s Lois went tent camping every summer in the Eastern Sierras with the DeLaRosa family on Green Creek near Bridgeport, California.   She enjoyed sitting in a camp chair with a glass of wine d conversation with Dee and John DeLaRosa while the younger generation did all the work. 

After several hospitalizations in July 2022 Lois moved to Rivers Edge Independent Living and in January 2023 to the Chateau Assisted Living.  Despite these moves she continued to require hospitalizations until she signed up for Sutter Hospice Care on December 11, 2023. From that time until her death on February 18 she remained in her apartment thanks to the excellent hospice nurses and hospice caregivers.  As early as December 2022 Lois began to speak as if she was ready for her life to end and planned her memorial service.  Sometime in the early morning hours of Sunday February 18 she passed away peacefully in her sleep at age 95.

Lois is survived by her four children and their spouses:  Marny Wasserman and her husband Ric, Dr. Michael Swanson and his wife Linn, Mark Swanson and his wife Wendy Saunders, Mitchell Swanson and (former spouse) Michelle Swanson; cousin James Pamp;  eleven grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews and distant cousins;  and the children of Brit and Rune Boren in Sweden: son Michael, his wife Gunilla, and sons Albin and Simon Boren in Lund, Sweden and daughter Brit and her husband Peter Warren in Abelour, Scotland.

The Swanson Family thanks all those  who expressed their condolences with cards, phone calls and in person and especially the deacons, members and staff at Westminster Presbyterian Church.  The pastoral care provided by Celeste Lasich, Richard Pearson, John Robinson, Skip Herbert, Wes Nordman, and Rola al Ashkar; and the many Westminster friends and the Pamp family  sustained Lois throughout her later life and especially during times of grief and her many health issues.  We are extremely grateful to the nurses and caregivers of Sutter Hospice; and to the med techs and caregivers at the Chateau Assisted Living.  A special thank you from the family to their cousin Sally Frostic who called her weekly;  to Lois’s longtime caregiver Marcia Jacomo; and to Dr. Caron Houston and Dr. Scott Wigginton for the many years of professional  medical care and concern.

Graveside services will be held at East Lawn 4300 Folsom Boulevard, Sacramento on March 8 at 11:00 a.m.  Memorial Service will be at Westminster Presbyterian Church 1300 N Street, Sacramento on March 10 at 2:00 p.m.  

The Family requests that any remembrances be made to Westminster Presbyterian Church.

 

 

            

            

 

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