March 16, 1931 - March 31, 2009
Born March 16, 1931 in Oklahoma City, OK, died March 31, 2009 in Dallas, Texas. He was a grandson of a Methodist minister and Swedish immigrants. His parents, J. Fred Swanson and Ruth A. Swanson, preceded him in death as did a brother, Robert Swanson.
Don was a graduate of McAllen (TX) High School, where he was sports editor of the school newspaper, business manager of the school magazine, and maintained an A average. He received an ABA degree from Edinburg Regional College (now Pan American University), where he was editor of the school newspaper, track letterman, and a member of Who’s Who. Swanson obtained Bachelor degrees from Texas Tech University and the University of Kansas, a Master’s degree from North Texas State, and completed course work towards a PhD at the University of Kansas.
He served as a Marine combat lieutenant in Korea before embarking on a professional career that included stints as a sport writer and columnist for the Lubbock (TX) Avalanche-Journal, sports editor of the McAllen (TX) Valley Evening Monitor and sports writer and columnist for the Dallas (TX) Times Herald.
In 1959, Swanson was named Midwest sports editor of United Press International in Kansas City (MO), where he was responsible for covering major league baseball and collegiate athletics including the Big 8, NCAA and Missouri Valley conference activities.
Three years later he was appointed New Orleans Bureau manager for United Press International during a time of civil rights unrest. Among stories filed from his office were the James Meredith trial at the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the excommunication of members of the Catholic Church.
Swanson joined Copley News Service, based in San Diego (CA) in 1964 and traveled throughout the United States and Latin America as a roving correspondent and assistant business manager. His duties included interviewing heads of state in various Latin American countries, including the last known interview by an American journalist of Donald Reid Cabral, last of a triumvirate to rule the Dominican Republic before the return of Joaquin Belaguer. Haitian officials seized his press credentials and held him in that country for 30 hours in protest of stories filed by the U.S. press against dictator Papa Doc Duvalier.
In January 1969, Swanson purchased Industrial Publications in Dallas, where he remained until his death. He also edited the official publication of the cotton ginning industry, The Cotton Gin & Oil Mill Press, founded in 1899. At one time he owned weekly newspapers in Sachse (TX) and Wylie (TX).
Always with a keen interest in sports, Swanson grew up a fast-pitch softball pitcher at a time when that sport was extremely popular with men. He was named MVP and co-MVP, respectively, for championship teams he played on in Kansas City and San Diego. He also was a member of the city championship slow-pitch team in New Orleans, in addition to playing on numerous league championship teams in the Dallas area.
His playing days stretched from Cub Scouts to age 45, and he spent 40 years coaching youth baseball and 20 years as a youth basketball coach. At one time his Farmers Branch Little League teams compiled a 78-2 record over parts of five seasons, including one stretch of 43 wins in a row.
He was a lifetime Cardinals baseball fan, with Stan Musial as his all-time sports hero.
Swanson was a lifetime member of Phi Alpha Theta and Sigma Delta Chi, honorary history and journalism societies; the 1st Marine Division Association; Veterans of Foreign Wars; and the Kansas University Alumni Association.
Survivors include a sister-in-law, Carole Swanson; nephews, Keith, Steve, Roger and Richard Swanson; a niece, Janet Riechlin; and his beloved pets, Sam, Heidi, Junior and Angel. He also had an extended family of office cats. Don is also survived by long time friend, Virginia Stephen; Steve and Patricia Henry; Rachel and John Dodson and their son, Luke; Shellie Henry and Aubrey Henry ( Swanson was Godfather to Rachel Dodson, Shellie and Aubrey Henry and Great Godfather to Luke Dodson); and Jim and Terry Snyder.
A service is planned for Wednesday, April 22 at 7:30 pm at McInnish Baseball Park (Fields 6,7,8,9) in Carrollton, TX.
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