Don Edward Swanjord, 70, of Balaton, died suddenly on December 18, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. He was the husband of Charlotte Wendel of Marshall. Memorial services will be at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, December 30 at Sillerud Lutheran Church, rural Balaton. Visitation is 6:00-8:30 p.m. Monday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Balaton with a prayer service at 8:30 p.m. Burial is in Zion Lutheran Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorials are preferred to Balaton Historical Society. Online condolences may be sent at www.stephensfuneralservice.com. Stephens Funeral Service – Tracy Area Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements.
Don was born in Tracy, Minnesota on March 7, 1944, son of Norman and Evelyn (Daniels) Swanjord, and brother of Kent. He grew up on the Swanjord family farm where his love of the area’s community and history was developed. After high school in Balaton, Don graduated from Carleton College in 1964, majoring in History. He then attended Yale University where he studied Ancient Middle East Languages. Don was fluent in at least 6 languages and there was seemingly not a musical instrument he could not play. Don received a PhD in Education from the University of California. Don’s love of history, language and community were an important staple of his life. Don married Texas Sabine Whiteman (deceased) on November 18, 1976 in New Haven, CT. Don and Texas lived in Iran, Yemen, Kuwait, and Iraq where they taught and administered education programs for several American universities and for the US Department of State. Since 1992, Don made his primary residence in Balaton while maintaining a second home in Madison, Connecticut. Don was a director of the State of Minnesota English as a Second Language program with responsibilities for programs throughout the state. Recently, Don taught adult education classes in a variety of subjects relating to Islam and the Middle East, to capacity classes at SMSU. Don taught classes at SMSU and SWSC and was Superintendent of Schools in Balaton. Don was a founder of East River Farm in Guilford, Connecticut, the Yankton Country School and WALA in Minnesota. Don was also a founding member of the Balaton Historical Society. Don was especially interested in preserving the structures, stories and history of Balaton. Through his wonderful work he was able to rescue many of the area’s unique historically significant buildings (including houses, churches, and school buildings) and record the wonderful and diverse history of Balaton and the surrounding area, securing it for future generations. Since 2004, Don was proprietor of Balaton House Bed and Breakfast, and wrote Grace and God’s Words: Sillerud Lutheran Church at 125 years: 1873 – 1998. Don married Charlotte Wendel on October 19, 2013. They supported each other’s interests and made many trips during their time together, including a visit to Charlotte’s relatives in Sweden and a cruise on the Saint Lawrence River. Don was an excellent musician and provided piano accompaniment at his church and at Charlotte’s ballet school.
In addition to his wife, Don is survived by his brother, Kent Swanjord, and his wife Patricia; his nephews Scott Swanjord and Grant Swanjord and their spouses and children; his step children, Mark Whiteman, Leigh Whiteman, Kevin Whiteman, Jason Whiteman, Bradford Whiteman, their spouses, children and grandchildren; Charlotte’s daughters Holly Isaac, Kristen Klingenberg, and Danielle Gies and their spouses and children; as well as many cousins, nieces and nephews, other relatives and many, many friends.