Roland Ames ‘Rollie’ Swanson, 86, of Snyder St., Palmer, passed away peacefully Thursday morning, December 13, 2018 at his home with his loving family at his side and under the care of UP Home Health & Hospice.
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Roland was born June 4, 1932 in Palmer and was a lifelong area resident. He attended the Palmer school until 8th grade when he began working at the Palmer Store to help his family. While in school he enjoyed playing baseball, was a ski jumper with the Junior Palmer Ski Club and worked in the woods with his father which also included some hunting and fishing. Rollie was determined to earn his high school diploma, and received it in 1971, the same spring that his daughter, Valerie earned her diploma.
Mr. Swanson was an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Army, serving from 1949 until his discharge in 1952. Shortly after, he met the love of his life, Rosemary, and the two danced their way to the altar on March 14, 1953. They were happily married for over 65 years until Rosemary’s untimely death in September, 2018.
Following his service to his country, Roland worked for a brief time underground mining, before beginning his career with the Bricklayers & Allied Crafts Union in 1955. Masonry became his passion for the remainder of his life. He was elected by his union brothers to be their business agent, and he proved to be an excellent contract negotiator. When a full-time business agent became necessary he was asked to take the job, and did so until retiring in 1999. Rollie and his sons also purchased, remodeled, and operated apartments in Palmer, and also built the first bar in Palmer, the Cascade Bar, which opened in 1986.
Mr. Swanson was a member of the American Legion, was a past member of the Richmond Township Fire Department, and was a longtime member of the Cascade Bar Horseshoe team. He was an avid Green Bay Packers fan, his home a shrine to honor them. He not only owned stock in the franchise, but also kept a box full of Lambeau Field turf. He had two special Packers bowling balls which were never allowed to touch the alley. Rollie loved to bowl, receiving many awards over the years.
Roland and Rosemary purchased property on Bass Lake in 1966, and together they turned it into the family camp, which was the hub of family activity for years to come. They proudly did all the work by hand, from digging the basement to pounding every nail. Family and friends enjoyed swimming, fishing, horseshoes, sauna and sitting by the fire singing and storytelling. Roland particularly loved the legendary horseshoe tournaments on the 4th of July. Camp was also the hub for deer season, where time spent playing poker and cribbage matched time spent hunting.
Above anything, Rollie loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He told the best stories about growing up in Palmer, and was the sole operator of ‘grandpa’s taxi service.’ After Nanny died, he also took the reins and arranged all the grandkids birthday parties at his house.
Surviving are his daughter, Valerie (Steven) Hammond; a son, Kurt Swanson; six grandchildren: Laine (Rich) Weidner, Jacqueline Swanson, David Swanson, Travis (Kymber) Swanson, Kyle Slabinski and Taylor (Leland) Nellist; ten great-grandchildren: Haley, Hunter, Jayden, Mason, Joseph, Adelyn, Jaycee, Clark, Elliot and Ruby; numerous nieces, nephews; and his dear best friend, Joe Duckworth. He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 65 years, Rosemary; his parents, Emil and Caroline (Hulverson); mother, Dorothy Lillian Larson; a son, Scott Swanson; grandson, Ryan Knueppel; and ten siblings: Emil, Virginia, Charlotte, Dorothy, John, Theodore, Frank, Charles, Ruby and Gordon.
A Celebration of Life will be held from 10:00 am until 11:00 am on Saturday, December 22nd at the Koskey Funeral Home, Negaunee. Interment will be in the Negaunee Cemetery. A luncheon will also take place immediately following services at the Cascade Bar, Palmer. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed in Roland’s memory to the DJ Jacobetti Home for Veterans, or a charity of your choice.