Roland E. “Rollie” Swenson

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Roland E. “Rollie” Swenson

Roland E. “Rollie” Swenson

June 10, 1040 ~ August 25, 2016


Roland E. “Rollie” Swenson, 76, of Spicer, formerly of Willmar, died Thursday, August 25th as a result of complications from Parkinson’s disease, metastatic lung cancer and dementia.  A celebration of life will be held at 11:00 am, Thursday, September 1st at Bethel Lutheran Church in Willmar.  Visitation will be from 4-7:00 pm, Wednesday and Harvey Anderson Funeral Home and on Thursday one hour prior to the service at the church.  Burial will be in Cloverleaf Cemetery, with Military Honors provided by American Legion Post #167.  Memorials are preferred to Rice Hospice and Bethesda Day Break.

Roland Elwood “Rollie” Swenson was born in Dawson, MN, on June 10, 1940, the son of Roland C. & Vivian (Holmquist) Swenson, the oldest of seven children.  In 1942, the family moved to Willmar.  Growing up he spent many summers on his grandparent’s farm in Dawson.  Rollie was a baptized and confirmed member of First Covenant Church and graduated from Willmar High School with the Class of 1958.  As a teen, he spent many hours working on cars.  He especially loved fast cars and loud mufflers!  He attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

On July 30, 1960, he was united in marriage to his high school sweetheart, Marguerite Thompson at Bethel Lutheran Church in Willmar, MN.  To this union three children were born: Gregory, Jeffrey & Emily.

In 1963, Uncle Sam beckoned and they spent the next three years in Bremerhaven, Germany where Rollie was stationed as a Military Policeman in the US Army.  It was a good time to be in Europe and they enjoyed many opportunities to travel to other countries.

Upon returning from the Army in 1966, Rollie began working as a salesman in his father’s Oldsmobile & GMC Truck dealership, Swenson Motor Company, located at 900 East Litchfield Ave.  In the early 70’s, Swenson Leasing Company was started with Rollie in partnership with his father.  Roland C. passed in 1977 and Rollie became owner of SMC.  As the dealership grew and more franchises were added, SMC moved to a lager building at 1301 East Highway 12.  At that time, SMC had theses franchises: Oldsmobile, Aurora, GMC Truck, Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge as well as Leisure Travel Vans.  SMC was closed in 2012 when Rollie retired.  Customer service was of utmost importance in anything he said or did.

As a member of the Minnesota Automobile Dealer Association, Rollie served on the board of directors from 1998-2005, President in 2003 and on MADA Services Board from 2002-2012 and President in 2002.  Rollie served on the MADA Foundation Board from 2003 until he retired.  He was also on the Quality Council of National Auto Dealers Association.  In 2007, Rollie was nominated for the Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award.

Rollie has been on many boards and involved in many church and civic activities over the years in Willmar: Chamber of Commerce, Willmar Opportunities, West Central Industries, Inner Circle, ACMC Foundation, Willmar Area Community Foundation, Bethesda, United Way, Circle Sentencing, Eagle Creek Golf Club, Lions Club and a member of Willmar Ten Investors.  In 2002, Rollie received the Earl B. Olson Entrepreneurial Spirit Award.  He served on the Bethel Church Council and sang in the choir.

Family was important to Rollie.  He was so proud of his children and their accomplishments in life, and nine grandchildren held an extra-special place in his heart.  He looked forward to the time he could spend with them playing cards and board games, watching them participate in sports and listening to their music, pontoon rides and spending time at the lake.  In spite of busy years, Rollie found time to enjoy racquetball, golfing, hunting and fishing with family and friends, taking many trips to Canada and northern Minnesota.  Good natured, with a smile on his face, he always had a good story or joke to share and he loved to tease!  Bluegrass and Country Music were his favorites and he loved to dance the polka!  Over the years, Rollie and Marguerite enjoyed traveling with friends and family to many foreign countries, and spending winters in warmer places.  He will be missed by all.

Rollie is survived by his wife, Marguerite and children: Gregory (Deborah) Swenson of Willmar; Jeffrey (Susan) Swenson of Springfield, NE; Emily (Kentt) Habben of Benson, MN; grandchildren: twins, Bradley and Daniel Swenson; Luke and Grant Swenson; and Nathan, Jonas, Eleanor, Harold, Hazel Habben.  He is also survived by his four brothers: James (Barbara), Jerry (Judy Kay), Douglas (Sheila), Milton and two sisters: Judy Ann (Gary) Swenson, Virginia (James) Bauman; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Roland and Vivian Swenson.

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