Cover photo for Shirley Swanson's Obituary
Shirley Swanson Profile Photo
1934 Shirley 2023

Shirley Swanson

September 22, 1934 — October 19, 2023

Shirley Swanson, 89, of Ortley passed away Thursday, October 19, 2023, at Wilmot Care Center in Wilmot.

 Funeral services will be 2:00 P.M. Friday, October 27, 2023 at Ortley Free Lutheran Church in Ortley, and will be livestreamed on Fiksdal Funeral Service Facebook page. Interment will be at Ortley Cemetery.

Visitation will be Thursday, October 26, 2023, 5-7 P.M. at the church in Ortley.

Shirley Mae Lewis Utne- Born September 22, 1934, to Ann (Grinde) & Archie Lewis in Sisseton, South Dakota. Shirley grew up in Ortey, South Dakota and lived there most of her life. When her mother married Henry Utne they moved to Seattle, Wash. for a few years before returning to Ortley. Shirley helped her mother, Ann, at the Ortley Cafe. This is where she met James Swanson, with a little help from Jamey's cousin Donnie Richardt & Shirleys best friend Gloria Schultz Richardt. 

After attending Ortley Independent and graduating from Waubay High School in 1952, she went on to receive her teaching certificate at Northern State Teachers College and taught for one year at Mallery country school Northeast of Ortley. 

Shirley and friend Gloria Schultz worked as bookkeepers at the Singer & Co. in Minneapolis, MN. The two would ride the train back and forth from Minneapolis to Ortley to visit their parents. 

Shirley Married James Dale Swanson on July 18, 1954, at Ortley Lutheran church. She & Jamey lived in California & Hawaii while Jamey was stationed with the Marines, returning to Ortley where they raised their five children: Vicky, Pam, Brenda, Julie, and Dana. 

Shirley was very active in her Church with Bible Study, Quilting, Sunday School superintendent & teacher. She sang for many weddings & funerals in the area. She also enjoyed her afternoon card games with Bonnie Pies, Carol Gaikowski and the late Judy Hamman. 

From 1984-1994 Shirley worked as a secretary at the Waubay School. In 1990 she was the honorary parade marshal at the homecoming parade. In 1992 they dedicated the yearbook to her which reads, "There are a lot of words that fit Shirley: caring, cheerful, hard-working, unselfish, and kind-hearted. Everyone relies a lot on Shirley, and she seems to always come through. We are very thankful for all the hard work and dedication that she puts into her job. We would also like to thank her for her words of encouragement at the pep rallies. We often put her on the spot, but she always comes up with words of wisdom to get everyone fired up! The seniors this year are really going to miss Shirley and are wondering if she'll come along with them to college, NO, we think we'll keep her! Thanks so much for everything Shirley." 

When it came to sports, Shirley supported all the kids' activities and especially loved rooting for the Twins and Vikings. 

The coffee was always on at their home in Ortley. It wasn't unusual for them to come home after running errands to find a few friends sitting at their kitchen table drinking coffee & playing cards, needless to say they would join right in. 

Shirley entered the Wilmot Care Center Sept. 23, 2022 

Mother, we thank you for showing us what love, commitment and family are all about. God bless her memory. 

She is survived by her husband of 69 years, James Swanson of Ortley, children, Vicky (Mike) Maag rural Watertown, Pam (Bill) Drake rural Waubay, Brenda (Dale) Jerde rural Florence,  Julie (Kevin) Barse rural Waubay,  Dana Swanson of Ortley, Special friends: Candy VanRoekel of Aurora, SD, Sister-in-law-Joan Lewis of Byron, MN, John Leonardi, Watertown, SD, grandchildren, Jeremy (Tracie) Maag; Brad (Rachel) Maag & Jenna Maag, Jodi Leonardi, Lindsay (Nathan) Tschakert, Shannon (Jerrett) Pies, Keela Jerde,  Jammi (Darrin) Ham, Markus & Preston Barse,  Shamus (Caitlynn) Swanson, Marin VanRoekel (Justin Kerkhove),  Braden Bendt, Jonas Swanson,  Great-grandchildren, Javen, Bently, Paisley & MacKenzie Maag, Kevin Bronson,  Ayla, Eden & Jace Maag,  Aili, Jonathan & Meadow Leonardi,  Hunter, Camryn & Skylar Tschakert, Bridger and Sage Pies, RaeLeigh & Avaeigha Barse, Holden Ham,  Kashton & Cameron Swanson, Odin, Ensley & Ivy Kerkhove. Shirley was preceded in death by her parents, half-brother Bob Lewis & half-sister Janet Lewis Zemlika. In-laws: Henning and Aili Swanson & sister-in-law Valerie Amdahl.


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