Obituary for Helge V. Swenson
Contributor: GeneArchivist Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
Published in Deseret News, Wednesday, August 30, 1967
Pleasant Grove, Utah County- Helge Vincent Swenson, 83, Pleasant Grove, died Aug. 29, in an American Fork hospital after a short illness.
Born Jan. 22, 1884, Asby, Swenden, to Swen and Bothilda Pehrson Swenson.
Married Adena Hannah Warrick, Dec. 23, 1908, Salt Lake LDS Temple.
Came to United States 1894.
Retired Utah County district agricultural inspector. Pleasant Grove bank director, Officer Farm Bureau, Chamber of Commerce.
Former patriarch Timpanogas Stake. Member Manila Ward Bishopric, 19 years; six years as Bishop. Alpine Stake home missionary, two years. Served Central States mission.
Survivors: widow; sons, daughters, Karl Warrick, Pleasant Grove, Calvin H, Lehi, Richard M, East Lansing, Mich. Mrs. George (Adena) Gourley, Holladay, Mrs. Paul V. (Jeanne) Christofferson, Glenview, Ill. ; 22 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; sister, Mrs. G. E. (Amy) Sandgren, Provo.
Funeral Friday noon, Manila LDS Ward Chapel, Pleasant Grove. Friends call Olpin Mortuary, Thurs 7-9 p.m. and Ward Chapel hour prior to services. The family requests contributions to Primary Children’s Hospital.
Memories of Helge Vincent Swenson by his Son Richard Merrill Swenson
Contributor: GeneArchivist Created: 2 years ago Updated: 2 years ago
Excerpt from Me and My Family by Richard Merrill Swenson, Self Published, 1993. Here Richard records memories of his father, Helge Vincent Swenson.
He [Helge Vincent Swenson] was a man I [Richard Merrill Swenson] loved and respected, and I have not known anyone who had greater integrity than he. As I have previously mentioned, he was able to get along well with people. He gave Mother some advice in a round about way from which most of us could proﬁt as well. Mother told about coming home from church shortly after they were married and complaining that no one had spoken to her. Father's only comment was: “What did they do when you spoke to them?”
Most of us entered the armed services with a certain degree of reluctance even though our patriotic duty told us that was what we should do. Having become a father of ﬁve children, I am sure parents of entering service men and women had a deep sense of foreboding as well as pride as they saw their children assume the responsibility of serving their country in the defense of freedom. Dad gave me some sound advice on the day I left home to enter the Army Air Corps. He said, “Dick, remember that each day you will be in the service is a day out of your life. Be sure you make each one a happy one.”
Dad had an interest in sports. He participated in track during his enrollment at the Utah Agricultural College. I learned this in later years but not from him. I would like to know more about his college attendance and his track participation. I did learn more about his track abilities from Uncle Reed Warnick’s writings. Uncle Reed describes a 1907 Fourth of July Celebration held in Pleasant Grove that included a track meet with Lindon, Pleasant Grove, and Manila Wards participating. Uncle Reed relates in detail how the Manila Ward team prepared for the meet. In so doing he made the following comment about my dad.
Helge was the coach as well as the chief contestant. He had been attending the Utah State Agricultural College and had been a member of its track team. He excelled in the sprints, high jump and hurdles and had set a record in the high hurdles for the state that held for a number of years.
According to Uncle Reed the “races were to be run on the main street where it ran past the City Park.” The ﬁrst event of the meet was the relay race. It consisted of four laps of 100 yards run by each of the four members of the relay team. Manila handily won the race. Lindon Ward was second, and the Pleasant Grove Ward ﬁnished a distant third. Dad and Jess Walker, from Lindon, ran the last lap of the relay for their respective teams. Manila had won the race, but many claimed Jess Walker was the fastest runner. There was sufﬁcient division over the question that a 100 yard dash was arranged to settle the issue. Dad was the winner.
Father worked hard, and he expected others to do the same, especially his children. The word “vacation” did not seem to be a part of his vocabulary. Maybe he didn't learn it when he changed from speaking Swedish to English. He was able to instill in his children the concept that there is honor in work, the harder the effort the greater the honor. I had conﬂicting feelings when I saw my friends with their families take a day off work to go to the canyon or some other place of play. First, they were shirking their duty and second, I wished we would do the same. I recall a rather intense discussion I had with Dad following my suggestion (or was it a request?) that he and I go to Salt Lake City on a Saturday to see a football game between BYU and the University of Utah. It involved my contention that we worked all the time and never took a day off to play as other people did. Surprisingly he said we would go. We had a fun time together, and even though I do not remember the outcome of the game, it created a pleasant memory that has lasted me a lifetime.
Dad had a good sense of humor. In Mother's writings she records a joke Dad would tell. “The bride-to-be promised her husband she would never lose her school girl ﬁgure. She kept her promise, in fact, she even added to it.” He also loved music, although like me he wasn't a very good singer. One of his favorite songs was entitled “Forgotten.” The ﬁrst line went: “Forgotten, yes, if forgetting means thinking of you all the while.” Somehow or other, that says a lot about Dad and his love and loyalty to his family.
Dad lived with the Wadleys shortly after he came from Sweden. He herded sheep for Ed Wadley at various places on Mt. Timpanogos. One of the better places was in a valley between the western slope of Timpanogos and the Mahogany mountain known locally as “behind the mountain” or “sage brush ﬂats.” The valley is now accessible by way of a road that begins at Camp Timpanooke. It follows the ancient trail the Timpanogos Indians took as they traveled from their winter ﬁshing and hunting grounds near Utah Lake to their cooler summer home in the Wasatch Valley.
Inez, George, Nell and I drove on the road from Camp Timpanooke to “sage brush ﬂats” in 1991. It was pleasant to reminisce about Dad's herding sheep there and his experience with killing a bear. We parked on a ﬂat near a corral for working and loading sheep. This is evidence of the continuing suitability of that area as a sheep range. We enjoyed the grandeur of the magniﬁcent mountains and the panoramic view of the valley and George's thought fulness in purchasing a Kentucky Fried Chicken lunch for each of us. This and the pleasant afternoon nap in the camper shall long be remembered.
In the 1930s my brother Calvin and other Manila Scouts were hiking from Mutual Dell in American Fork Canyon to their home in Manila via the Bear Roll-off, the north end of Timpanogos, back of Mahogany and down one of its canyons to home. Leaving the trail at one place to ﬁnd a stream of water to quench their thirst, they spied an interesting tree. On it was carved this message: “Near here, Helge Swenson killed a bear.”I recall Dad occasionally mentioning something about his sheep herding experiences on Mt. Timpanogos, though it seems Mother conveyed more of the information to us than Dad did. Dad talked less about his killing a bear. I do, however, remember his telling of the bear incident long ago. Perhaps his telling was prompted by Calvin’s questioning him about the message they had seen on the tree. It went something like this. Dad discovered a partially eaten carcass of one of the sheep from his herd that had apparently been killed by a bear. He did not want to lose any more sheep, so he rigged up a trap. He hung the partially-eaten carcass in a tree at the height a bear could reach. He fastened his riﬂe so that it was aimed at the place the bear would be if it returned to eat on the carcass. He tied one end of a string to the trigger of the positioned riﬂe and the other end to the sheep carcass. He then cocked the riﬂe. If the carcass were disturbed, the gun would go off. He went to bed. During the night he heard a shot, and in the morning he found the dead bear right where he expected it to be.
My brother Calvin (with sister Adena Nell's help) wrote the following account of an experience he had with our father which was printed in the Church News, Week Beginning January 6, 1985, under “Lessons My Parents Taught Me.” Although I was not a party to this particular incident, it describes the father I knew. It depicts his character, dedication, and love for the gospel which gave meaning to his total life. I, too, pay him tribute by including Calvin's account in my life history.
My father, Helge V. Swenson, was converted to the Church in Sweden. When he was 11 years old, he came alone to Utah with a group of immigrants, and hired out for his board and room. He supported himself from that time on. Of uppermost importance in his life was the Church—and all the service he could render it. As long as he lived, he desired his children also keep that standard. Through one particular instance, father impressed upon my mind that the gospel is our greatest treasure. We were planting a new fruit orchard. He picked out a few of the best young trees and told me Brother Monson might like a few to plant. Father asked me to take them to him. But I was exasperated: “Father”, I said, “I don’t understand why we must always take the best bucketful of cherries, the best box of peaches and the best load of hay—and the best of everything else—to Brother Monson. I don’t even think he is a very good man. He doesn’t live the Word of Wisdom, he doesn't come to Church and he seems to plan to have his berry pickers working in the patch right across from the chapel on Sundays. I don’t know why you do anything for him.” I will never forget my father’s quiet answer: “Yes, son,” he replied, “I know he has these bad habits that seem to keep him from the Church. I' m sorry about that and keep praying that he will change. But he is the missionary who brought the gospel to my parents' home in Sweden. What he chooses to do is his responsibility. But all that I can ever do to show my love and appreciation for him can never be enough to pay for the priceless gift of the gospel that he brought into my life. My father also taught us to give wholeheartedly to any Church calling we may have. Many a Sunday dinner was delayed while we waited for father. Whenever he was responsible for the Aaronic Priesthood, or was a teacher of a class, before coming home, he would go to the homes of any member who had been absent to ﬁnd out why, and assure that the member had been missed and needed. My father taught us with his love and his life.
Calvin, in the above tribute to our father, mentions that Dad was converted to the Church in Sweden and his account demonstrates Dad’s life long commitment to the Church. His deep faith and strong testimony were evident as a boy of eight years of age as shown by Uncle Dan Swenson’s account of the circumstances of Father's baptism.
On the second evening, as we were about to depart with the Elders, John Swenson and Olof Monson, on the walk to the lake, Helge, who had been just as interested in the visits and teachings of the Elders as any one, approached Elder Swenson and asked: “Can’t I be baptized too?” When told that maybe it was better to wait a while even though he was eight years old, he felt disappointed and said “But if I have faith, can’t I then be baptized?” So Elder Swenson answered, “Yes, if you have faith, then you shall be baptized.” So Mother hurriedly found some clothes for him too, and the three children were baptized and conﬁrmed the second evening, June 6, 1892.