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American Patriotic 10


Donald Raeburn Swenson

April 2, 1928 ~ May 11, 2018 (age 90)

Donald Raeburn Swenson

April 2, 1928 – May 11, 2018


A memorial mass will be held for Don R. Swenson, 90, of North Bend, on Thursday, May 17th at 11:00 a.m. at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 2250 16th Street in North Bend, with the Reverend Jim Graham presiding. A luncheon will follow in the Parish Hall. Private cremation rites were held at Ocean View  Memory Gardens in Coos Bay.


Don was born on April 2, 1928 in Kindred, North Dakota to Albert B. Swenson and Selma ( Bjerke ) Swenson. He passed away peacefully on May 11, 2018, surrounded by his family at his home in North Bend.


In 1945, during his senior year of high school, Don followed four of his brothers into service and joined the US Navy for the duration of the war. After WWII ended, he returned to Kindred and worked in a variety of jobs, including with the railroad and the Rural Electrification Administration ( REA ).


Don was drafted into the US Army at the start of the Korean War and entered with the second wave of US forces. While fighting in Korea, the Navy recalled Don to active duty. Once the two services had worked out that Don “was in the Army now,” he briefly served simultaneously with both branches before his official transfer to the Army. During the Korean War, he was awarded the Korean Silver Medal with 3 Bronze Service Stars, the United Nations Service Medal for Meritorious Unit Commendation.


After the war, Don attended Mayville State Teachers College where he was an outstanding athlete on the football, basketball, track and tennis teams. After graduating in 1954, he began his teaching career.


On May 28, 1955, Don married Bernadette Cote, whom he met in college. They both taught in North Dakota before moving to John Day, Oregon in 1958. He taught and coached in John Day for seven years before accepting a teaching/coaching position at North Bend High School in 1965. He taught business courses at NBHS until he retired in 1992.


At NBHS, Don coached football and basketball, as both assistant and JV coach. He is remembered most for restarting the golf team in 1970 when he volunteered for the position of coach. Don enjoyed the game.


Even after he retired, Don helped young golfers, as well as older ones, improve their game, giving them advice on their swing, stance and grip. Don played regularly, but was most frequently found at Coos Country Club ( now Coos Golf Club ), and insisted on playing from the white tees. In 2016 he shot his age twice and did this again in 2017.


Don was also active in the community. He was a member of the American Legion. He also helped with various events at church, loved to support his children and grandchildren in sports and theater, and enjoyed playing a good game with others, be it a round of golf or a game of bridge or cribbage. At all times, his unflappable approach put others at ease. “Be kind to each other,” which he frequently said, summed up his approach to life.


Even years after retirement, former students greeted him as either “Coach” or “Mr. Swenson.” Many who met him unexpectedly, even in the last weeks of his life, told him that his typing class had turned out to be one of the most useful high school courses they had taken. Whether coach or Mr. Swenson, Don remained a teacher throughout his life, giving his final golf lessons to his children and grandchildren in April and May.


Don is survived by his wife, Bernadette “Bernie” Swenson; five children, Tamara Swenson of Osaka, Japan;  Donald Swenson of Coquille; Dana Swenson of Biberach, Germany; Marcia Marchant of North Bend and Scott Swenson of Bend; seven grandchildren, Hunter, Taylor, Hannah, Marissa, Ryan, Max and Parker; His children of the heart, Shelly, Shannon, Brad, Joe and Marion; sister, Janice Marsh; his loving in-laws Leonid Crosby, Louise Boucher, Rodney Phlugrath, Marcella and John Keily, Ernest and Denise Cote, Rita Scharf, and Florence and Don Helman; as well as numerous nieces and nephews.


Don was preceded in death by his parents, Albert and Selma Swenson; and 10 siblings.


P.G. Wodehouse wrote, “The man who can go into a patch of rough alone, with the knowledge that only God is watching him, and play his ball where it lies, is the man who will serve you faithfully and well!” Don embodied this. He will be missed.


In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made in the name of “Don Swenson Golf Scholarship” to the North Bend Community Scholarship, PO Box 567, North Bend, OR 97459, to help an NBHS golfer attend college, or to a charity of one’s choice. Friends and family are encouraged to sign the online guestbook at and Arrangements are under the care of North Bend Chapel, 541-756-0440.

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