In Memoriam: Philip R Swan

Well, not exactly “In Memoriam” but its a start. I am sure much more eloquent, clever, and funny things will be said at the memorial. But for now, here is the details on my father’s memorial. (Its not yet posted to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I will update when it posts there, and in the local papers.) Here is what we’ve got:

Philip Roy Swan 1944 - 2010

Philip Roy Swan 1944 - 2010


Age 66, husband, father, teacher, artist, and friend, passed away on August 1, 2010, in Savage, MN. Phil was born in Minneapolis on June 5 to Roy and Luella (Arndt) Swan, grew up with sister Judy attending Edina schools, and earned a concurrent BA/BS in Art from Mankato State University (1967). Phil served in the Navy between 1963 and 1965 on the USS Enterprise as a journalist. Always looking for a challenge and an interesting conversation, Phil was an art instructor, realtor, sculptor, goldsmith and jeweler, business owner, “creative gardener” and working artist. He was a world traveler, created a unique and loving home, and built and grew deep friendships.

In 1993, Phil was commissioned to create a ceremonial mace for Mankato State University. His art and jewelry career was also the subject of many newspaper articles.

Phil is preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his wife of 25+ years, Desiree; daughters Rachel Swan (Karen Mattison) of Minneapolis; Manette Swan of Austin, TX; sister-in-law Janene Davison; father- and mother-in-law Don and Peg Davison; and many, many friends.

A celebration of Phil’s life will be held Thursday, August 5, 2010 at the Chart House Restaurant, 11287 Klamath Trail, Lakeville, MN 55044, 952-435-7156. Visitation begins at 4 pm. Memorial service at 6 p.m. In lieu of flowers, memorials preferred to The Nature Conservancy. Cremation Society of Minnesota 612-825-2435.


6 thoughts on “In Memoriam: Philip R Swan

  1. Thank you for giving me the details of Phils passing. He was one hell of a guy and friend and will be missed dearly. I was also one of the guys that joined the Navy with Phil and still have our graduation picture from boot camp. I myself just got home today from spending 12 days in the hospital recovering from heart failure. So this really hit home when I heard the news this weekend. I don’t think I’ll be able to make the funeral, but my prayers and thoughts are with you and your family. I’ll miss his smile and laugh. I look at his picture and can still hear his voice. God bless you all.

  2. Hearing the news about Phil brought back some good, old memories. My folks built their home right behind the Swan’s in 1949 and sometime afterword I met Phil. What a character; fun loving, mischievious, creative and could he talk. So many good times. Making skating rinks in our back yards, His dad Roy, was a photographer with the Mpls Star, and one winter day climbed onto the roof of their home and took pictures of us on the skating rink. They even made the paper. We did a lot of damge to milk boxes and mail boxes with cherry bombs and M-80’s. Phil got us all building “chugs”; gravity powered soapbox cars which we raced down W 56th Street. One day, Phil got his hands on a big, 10 hp engine which he mounted on his “chug”. Went so fast the first time, he lost control, up over an embankment and into a front yard. But he perservered and thereafter could keep the thing going pretty straight. But, alas, someone called the cops and driving motorized “chugs” on the street was curtailed. Phil was the first to get his driver’s license and later bought an old Ford (I think) and put a flat head V-8 Mercury engine in it. Noisy and cool. We used to nip on my Dad’s dandelion wine, that he brewed in his workshop. We cut it with Welch’s grape juice. Got ripped a couple of times. Phil built a “fort” up in his attic, where I learned to play poker. Phil taught me and he always seemed to win. Hmmmm. As we were entering puberty then, anything having to do with girls was topic #1. Phil had a stash of Playboy magazines up in the “fort” and certain pages in those magazines were well worn. So many memories. Making wax fingers by boiling old candles and then dipping our finger or thumb into the hot mixture, time after time, building layer upon layer and getting it just the right size. Then carve a finger nail in it. We were a bit on the naive side, too. For instance letting the gas out of CO2 cartridges and then packing match heads into the empty cartridge, tamping the last few with a nail. (Dumb) Then we’d glue fins on the sides, near the bottom, Out in the backyard, we’d stand the cartridge vertically, on a piece of wood, and using a piece of string, that had been rolled in glue and gun powder (from shot gun shells), we’d put one end the string in the “rocket”, light the other end run like hell. Bang! Wow! Most of the time they went up, landing somewhere. Occasionally, the fuse would burn one of the fins and the “rocket” would fall over and launch almost horizontally. I think if you look closely, there’s one still wedged in the side of the house.

    I didn’t mean to ramble on this long, and I could go on alot longer. But boy we had fun. Growing up with Phil was truly a treat; a real learning experience. He was never afraid to tackle anything, overcome all obstacles. and get where he wanted to go. While I haven’t had any contact in years, Phil and I and our friends accomplished and shared a lifetime of memories May God bless him.

  3. Rachel… I’ve just come upon these bits of your father: your blog entries, the profound blue Post-it Note, the few photos and the memorial above. I just want you to know how sorry I am that he’s gone. I am moved by the warmth of his smile and find myself deeply saddened that i will never know him. Through these few details I’m piecing together a remarkable person.

    I have handfuls of profound, passionate and lively folks in my life; The type of people you just can’t get enough of, you know? I hold them in high regard and cling to them well – Amazing people indeed. I’m convinced that your Dad was someone I would have admired and had many questions for. I can’t imagine how much you miss him…. So, I leave you with this: as you begin to heal, please teach us what he taught you and keep sharing about his wonderful life. We have so much to teach one another and that goes for those of us here, and those of us not here, as well.

    Here’s hoping that i may bring a similar joy and inspiration to my friends, family and children’s lives!

    Be well –

  4. I didn’t know until recently that Phil had passed. He was a great soul & a fine friend. It has been many years, but Phil & Des are among the few folks I have known that will always be with me.

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