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Swenson was journalist of first rank

I am deeply saddened at Brad Swenson's passing. Brad and I had known one another since 1980. I would come to learn that he and I have similar origins. Brad is from Duluth; I am from Ely. Our quip: Horace Greeley said, "Go west, young man!" So we did, Brad and I; but we only got as far as Bemidji. And here we have remained, these many years.

I first knew Brad when I began a long career at the Northwestern Minnesota Juvenile Center, first as teacher; then from 1981 to 2001 as superintendent. Brad and I would remain connected over the years, and certainly since I was elected to the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners in 2004. His coverage of county board meetings over the many years has been important to the Pioneer readership.

Brad followed the Juvenile Center's progress and growth over the years; he afforded coverage of our acquiring state bonding money in the 1994 Legislature to design and build the new Juvenile Center, which opened in 1996. As well, Brad brought coverage of our successful efforts in locating a Community Based Outpatient Clinic for veterans in Bemidji.

Most recently, Brad wrote about the efforts of our Northern Minnesota Veterans Home Initiative, and our work-in-progress to locate a veterans home in Bemidji for the broad region of Northwestern Minnesota. He attended our task force meetings and lent his usual acuity to the issues and challenges facing us. We hope to be successful in our efforts; nothing would please us more than to have had Brad's omnipresence for a long time to come. He shares in our efforts, and he would have shared as well in our hoped-for successful outcome.

Even after he retired, Brad maintained contact with me as he plied his trade, and continued to focus on veterans and elder care issues in his Pioneer editorial commentaries. He was never too busy to pay attention to issues of common importance to us.

Brad was a journalist of the first rank. More importantly, he was a friend and neighbor. Though we were not born in Beltrami County, we became longtime residents, and ours has been a long and enduring commitment to the Bemidji/Beltrami County area, along with many others.

Requiescat in Pacem, Good Friend.

Joe Vene

Beltrami County Commissioner