Residence: Balaton, MN
Deceased: December 18, 2014
Alumni survivors: Mr. Kent N. Swanjord ’63 P96 (Sibling), Mr. Grant A. Swanjord ’96 (Nephew)
Don Swanjord was born in Tracy, Minnesota on March 7, 1944. He grew up on the family farm in rural Balaton, Minnesota and started Carleton at age 16 majoring in history. After Carleton, Don attended Yale University where he studied Ancient Middle Eastern Languages. He was fluent in at least six languages and there was seemingly not a musical instrument he could not play. While at Yale, Don married Judy Knauss, a member of his Carleton class. They were divorced in the early 1970’s.
In 1976, Don married Texas Sabine Whiteman in New Haven, Connecticut. Don and Texas lived in Iran, Yemen, Kuwait, and Iraq where they taught and administered education programs for several American universities and for the US. Department of State. Texas died in 2011. On October 19, 2013, Don married Charlotte Wendel and she survives him.
Don’s love of history, language and community were an important staple of his life. Since 1992, he made his primary residence in Balaton while maintaining a second home in Madison, Connecticut. Don was a director of the State of Minnesota English as a Second Language program with responsibilities for programs throughout the State. He taught adult education classes in a variety of subjects relating to Islam and the Middle East to capacity classes at Minnesota State University at Marshall.
Don was a founding member of the Balaton Historical Society. He was especially interested in preserving the structures, stories and history of Balaton. Through his dedication, he was able to rescue many of the area’s unique historically significant buildings (including houses, churches, and school buildings) and record the diverse history of Balaton and the surrounding area, securing it for future generations. Beginning in 2004, he was the proprietor of Balaton House Bed and Breakfast.
Don died suddenly on December 18, 2014 in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to his wife Charlotte, he is survived by his brother Kent, Carleton Class of 1963, and his nephews Scott and Grant Swanjord, Carleton Class of 1996.