Vernon James Swanson, age 78, of Durango, Colorado passed away Wednesday, January 25th at home on a sunny Colorado afternoon. ern was born in Curtis, Nebraska, May 15th, 1938, to Opal and Norris Swanson. He grew up in North Platte, Nebraska, graduating in 1956 from North Platte High School. He continued his studies on an athletic scholarship at Doane College where he played both basketball and football. While on a hay ride, he met his future wife, Marilyn Dennis, whom he married in 1958. Together they celebrated 58 years of marriage and were blessed with three remarkable sons. After graduating from college, Vern was employed in various capacities throughout the fresh meat industry until 1973 when he had an opportunity to start his own meat distribution business based in Houston, Texas. Vern was an innovator and studied risk-taker who quickly gained the respect of his peers by pioneering changes in an industry that was "locked in time". Towards the latter part of his career, Vern leveraged his expertise and reinvented himself as a senior consultant to the food service industry. Through it all, Vern and Marilyn relocated numerous times until they retired to Durango, in 1998. Once settled in Durango, Vern touched many lives with his positive attitude and generous heart. He was deeply involved in the community through Rotary Club International's associated activities. . . in particular the mentoring program for La Plata County youth at risk. He always enjoyed his time with others, readily offering his energy, ideas, experience, and quick wit. Vern had a natural interest in everyone he met, and often lasting friendships were established. His willingness to help, contagious sense of humor, and infectious laugh were acknowledged throughout Durango. As generous as he was to others, he was doubly so with his children and grandchildren. He enjoyed planning family vacations that bound his family tighter. Vern loved to hear every detail in the lives of his sons and their families, commenting without judgement or criticism. Shelves at home brim with many pictures of his grandchildren, displaying his pride in their growth. Grandchildren include: Trevor (24), Mackenzie (22), Schuyler (20), Conner (17), and Grace (14). Vern's impact on them was powerful and lasting-he was an irreplaceable figure in all their lives, and his striking influence echoes in their achievements. He set unparalleled examples of strength, integrity, and humility among everyone who was close to him. Frequent road trips kept Vern and Marilyn connected to everyone's activities and they often planned extended trips that allowed them to make multiple stops to visit friends and family. Vern often joked that he should have been a long-haul truck driver, as he loved to drive the open road. They also traveled throughout the world; delving into local cultures, customs, and foods. He enjoyed the outdoors and shared numerous road bike, snow ski, and golf adventures with friends. Other pastimes included backpacking and camping, Suduko and time on his Kubota tractor. Vern will be deeply missed. He is survived by his wife, Marilyn; his brother Douglas and his family; his three sons Todd, Michael, and Andrew; his five grandchildren Trevor, Mackenzie, Schuyler, Connor and Grace; his two daughters-in-law, Caroline and Franci and many nieces and nephews. Vern's void cannot be filled by any one person, but collectively we can join together to make the light he created even bigger and brighter. A Memorial Service will be scheduled for early July. Memorial contributions can be sent to the High Noon Rotary Club or International Relief Teams based in San Diego, CA.
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