Fern Elaine Swenson


Fern E Swenson (67) left this life on Friday, April 15, 2022, at Mercy Medical Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A Celebration of Life will be held late spring/early summer in Bismarck, ND. Family, friends, and colleagues will be welcome to attend and share in a celebration of Fern’s life.

Fern was born in Starbuck, MN on Dec 5, 1954. She was baptized and confirmed at Norunga Lutheran Church in Lowry, MN. Fern attended Glenwood High School where she graduated in 1972. She continued her education at St. Cloud State University and the University of Oklahoma where she graduated with a master’s degree in Archeology. Fern’s love of Native American history and culture brought her to the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks for her first work assignment. She later found her home working at the State of North Dakota, where she stayed for 35 years. Fern was the Director of the North Dakota Archaeology & Historic Preservation Department at the time of her passing. Fern’s love for her colleagues, the people she served, and her family were an inspiration to many. She was planning her retirement and moved to Iowa to be with her family before her passing. Aside from her work, Fern loved to read, she loved good bands, movies, pottery, and games. Fern liked to play Scrabble with her family. Her optimism, strength, and courage will never be forgotten. She will be missed, and she will stay in our memories forever.

She is survived by her sister, Irene (Richard) Kracht, Nephew Justin (Manuela) Kracht, Alexia, Fernando (Selena) and Ximena, Niece Mindy (Bill) LeGrand, Violet, Dallas, and Gage. She was preceded in death by her parents, Melvin and Gladys Swenson.

We would like to express a special thanks to family at the ND Archaeology & Historic Preservation Division and to all her friends and colleagues throughout the Association. Thank you to Bismarck’s CHI St. Alexius Hospital and Oncology Department for their care.

Memorials may be directed to the American Cancer Society and to the State Historical Society of North Dakota Foundation, PO Box 1976, Bismarck, ND 58502. Cards may be addressed to Irene Kracht, 2225 River Bluff Dr NW #105, Cedar Rapids, IA 52405.

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