Dorothy Mae Oberg Swanson died peacefully on August 29, 2018, at her residence at Brookdale Bear Creek in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She was 95 years old. In 2016, she was proceeded in death by her husband of 71 years, Dustin (Dusty) Herbert Swanson.
Dorothy, born on May 12, 1923, is the only child of Swedish immigrants Richard Ferdinand and Elsie Maria Oberg of Omaha, Nebraska. She was an active and vivacious child and young lady. She and Dusty were sweethearts in Omaha. She attended the University of Omaha and Iowa State University, majoring in math. When Dusty returned from his WWII service as a bomber pilot, he proposed to her on her parents’ front porch. She wrote, “On the following Wednesday he was in Omaha – Thursday ‘proposed’ – Friday asked my father! – Saturday I received the most beautiful ring – we went to Peony dancing.”
At their wedding in Omaha on August 14, 1944, “the bride’s gown was fashioned of traditional white satin with a fitted bodice and a full skirt that swept into a long train … with a fingertip illusion veil falling from a tiara of orange blossoms.” They drove to a WWII Redistribution Center in California and began their 26-year adventure as an Air Force family.
By the time Japan surrendered in 1945, they had traveled all around the country. Her USA map showed their route and Dorothy’s notes of over 20 places they either lived at or visited. She loved to keep memories of her travels and adventures as witnessed by her trunks-full of, among other things, scrap books, hotel receipts, theater tickets, grade reports, letters, pictures, and Christmas cards. Their first stable assignment was at Bolling Field, Washington DC where, in September 1947, Dustin H. Jr. was born. Dorothy noted, “I’m having great fun with big Rusty …” In December 1948 at Keesler AFB, Biloxi, Mississippi, their second son, Richard E., was born.
In 1950, Dusty’s college engineering program at Ohio State was interrupted and he went to fight the Korean War for two years while Dorothy looked after her growing boys. When Dusty returned they moved to Eglin AFB, Florida, where, in March 1954, Robert T. was born.
For the next 20 years they raised their boys in Newfoundland, Canada; Colorado Springs, Colorado; Sun Prairie, Wisconsin; and again, in Colorado Springs. For two years during this time, Dorothy was, once again, a “single mother” while Dusty was on remote assignment. All three boys graduated from the US Air Force Academy.
Dorothy and Dusty stayed in Colorado Springs where they spent an active and happy retirement for the next four decades. She worked at a junior high school, played tennis and golf, skied avidly, went on cruises, and, of course, enjoyed their growing family of grandchildren (Mike, Ryan, Ashley, Serena, Shane, Kyle, Dana, Jillian) and great-grandchildren (six and counting).
Dorothy lived a wonderful, active life. No one knows better than her boys: Rusty, Dick, and Bob, what a terrific mother she is and what a joy she was to live with. We especially remember her famous chocolate chip cookies and roast beef dinners. She passed on her Swedish determination to new generations. One of the magnets on her refrigerator crowded with pictures of family members said, “You can always tell a Swede, you just can’t tell her much.” Another one says, “Kiss the cook. She is Swedish.”
Videos of her life and experiences can be found on YouTube with titles including “Dorothy Swanson” and “Dusty and Dorothy Swanson.”
A Celebration of Life for Dorothy will be held at 3:00 PM on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at Colorado Springs Country Club, 3333 Templeton Gap Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80907.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region.