John Gilbert "Jack" Swenson
John Gilbert "Jack" Swenson
John G. "Jack" Swenson, 92, passed away peacefully December 12, 2018 in Mandan, ND. He was born on Nov. 28, 1926 in Crookston, MN and later moved to a small farm in northern Minnesota near the village of Hines.
As a youngster Jack listened to the radio everyday and marveled at the power of the words and knew he wanted to be in broadcasting. He got his start by finding a part-time job at the local paper, The Blackduck American. Following high school he headed to Minneapolis where he found a job at the Minneapolis Star Tribune and began his long and storied career in journalism and photography. In 1944, Jack moved to Fargo, ND and joined the announcer staff at WDAY radio. As soon as he turned 18, he went into the Navy, serving at the Naval Separation Center in Boston.
When Jack was discharged, he and Mavis returned to Fargo and WDAY, then on to KVNJ where he worked until 1949. In 1950, they moved to Bismarck, ND where Jack became the news director at KFYR Radio. Television came to KFYR in 1953, and Jack became the first news anchor in Bismarck. In 1956, the family moved to Washington, DC where Jack was a congressional aid for ND Congressman Otto Krueger. When Krueger's term ended, the family returned to North Dakota and Jack became the news director at KXMB-TV in Bismarck.
In 1963, Jack was offered the position of Executive Director of the North Dakota Petroleum Council. In 1972 he became Executive Director of the American Petroleum Institute's 11-state Central Region in Chicago. In 1975, it was on to Denver to become Executive Vice President of the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association. He retired as President of RMOGA in 1987, and he and Mavis moved to Custer, SD. He was inducted into the North Dakota Petroleum Council Hall of Fame in 2008.
In 2001, Jack and Mavis returned to Hines where he returned to work for the Blackduck American after an absence of nearly 60 years. Although semi-retired, he was happy to re-join his first love of newspaper work. He covered local stories and wrote his popular weekly column, Across the Lake.
In 2012, Jack and Mavis moved back to Bismarck to be near their son David in their elder years.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents Gilbert and Ruth Swenson, his beloved Mavis, sister Helen Heiland, brother Rodney Swenson, and grandson Webster Swenson. He is survived by his four children and numerous nieces and nephews.
Honoring Jack's wishes, services will be held at the same church Jack and Mavis were married at in Hines. They will be interred together at Blackduck Cemetery this spring.
Memorial donations may be made in Jack's honor to the Blackduck Historical Society (www.blackduckhistoryart.org).