Willis George Swanson, age 87 of Virginia died Saturday, July 7, 2018 in Essentia Health – Virginia. He was born February 22, 1031 in Little Falls, MN. He attended District 89 county school and graduated for Little Falls High school in 1949. He went on to college and graduated from Gustavus Adolphus in 1953. He acquired an MSW degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1955 with a specialty in psychiatric social work.

Willis married Marlene Eckstedt from St. James, MN and together they had three children

His first job was a Probation Office for Ramsey County Courts. From there he worked with the Family Centered Project of St. Paul for three years. This was a nationally recognized program to turn around multi-problem families. At the time of leaving the court system, he was Director of Intake for the Domestic Relations Division.

In the spring of 1962, Willis moved to Virginia as the second employee of the Range Mental Health Center, which planned to provide home-based mental health services. At the time, RMHC was the 16th mental health center in Minnesota in the effort to close large hospitals for the mentally ill. He served as Assistant Area Program Director and counseling therapist for 15 years, retiring July 31, 1991.

Willis was active in the Lion’s Club for 33 years, serving as secretary for 17 years and was honored with the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award. While the children were young, he served as President of the Horace Mann School PTSA, also serving as the President of the Virginia PTSA Council.

Willis was an active member of Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church, serving on the Church Council, a Sunday School Teacher, and President of the Men’s Club.

He was preceded in death by daughter: Kathy and former wife, Marlene.

Willis is survived by wife: Marlyn; children: Scott (MJ) and their children: Linnea and Christopher; Craig (Janis) and their children: Erik, Emily and Katie; great-grandchildren: Kennedy and Anya; step-children: Christopher (Debi) Henrikson and their children: Samantha and Judy; Erik Henrikson and children: Jeffrey and Jennifer; extended family and friends.


A Gathering time for family and friends will be held from 2:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, July 12, 2018 at the Swanson Family Home, 325 6th Street South in Virginia. Inurnment will take place in the Freedhem Cemetery in Freedhem, MN. Memorials are the preferred way to honor Willis’ memory and may be directed to Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church. Family services provided by Bauman-Cron, A Bauman Family Funeral Home in Virginia. To share condolences online, please see: www.baumanfuneralhome.com.


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