By HDN staff
CHESTER Swen Arvid Sundgren, 90, died Friday, April 19, 2002, at a Shelby hospital.
Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Chester United Methodist Church. Burial will follow at the Chester Cemetery.
Swen was born on the family homestead 16 miles northeast of Chester to Swedish immigrants, Arvid and Ericka (Lund) Sundgren on June 19, 1911. Swen grew up on the farm and received his formal education at the Sundgren School. In his early adult years he worked for various farmers/ranchers in the Chester/Joplin communities, including the Thompsons, Jabes, Carlsons and Eggens. During that same time, he began purchasing his own land and cattle.
In the 1930s Swen wintered in Seattle where he worked as a riveter for Boeing in the airplane industry. In 1942 after the outbreak of World War II, he was inducted into the U.S. Army. He served in Company "C" of the 877th Airborne Engineer Battalion in campaigns at Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and Central Europe. Following his honorable discharge in 1945, he returned to the family farm in Montana.
Swen met his wife-to-be, Thelma Jessie Tapp, on a blind date. They were married on June 5, 1949, in Great Falls. They farmed and ranched in the Chester community. They built a home in Chester in 1959 and moved there permanently in 1973. Thelma was the love of his life and she died in 1991 after 42 years of marriage.
Swen remained active in the farming operations. He drove the tractor every spring until the age of 85, then continued to help move machinery and assist however he could until age 88.
Swen fell and broke his hip in 1999. He recuperated at the Chester and Fort Benton nursing homes, then moved to the Marias Heritage Center in Shelby in June 2000. Other than his mobility problems, his general health remained good. This past month he developed some breathing difficulties, so he transferred to the Marias Medical Center.
Swen was baptized and confirmed in the Lutheran faith, but he and Thelma joined the Methodist Church in 1956. He was active in the United Methodist Church in Chester and served as a church trustee for several years. He was a member of the American Legion in Chester and an active Democrat.
Swen was content with his life as a simple man. He was proud of his Swedish heritage; although his given name was "Swen," he preferred to be called "Sven" because of the Swedish implication. He always greeted his friends with a smile and a handshake, and his word was always good as gold. Years ago he was nicknamed "Honest Sven." He loved his life as a farmer, his pride and joy was his 8760 John Deere tractor. Always a diligent worker, he never complained about hard work, even after long, monotonous hours of picking weeds by hand in the fields.
Swen loved the comfort of home. He enjoyed playing cards and board games, such as whist, pinochle, Sorry and Monopoly. He liked to listen to music, especially when his family was performing. His favorite radio programs were "Grassroots Gold" and market/news reports. He kept aware of current events, so he enjoyed reading the newspaper and Reader's Digest. His favorite television shows were "The Waltons," "Lawrence Welk," "The 700 Club," "Big Valley," Bonanza" and "Rawhide."
Swen loved all animals. He had a gentle nature with them and could calm a nervous animal when others couldn't. He had great love and pride for all of his grandchildren.
Swen was preceded in death by his parents; wife, Thelma Sundgren; brother, Arthur Sundgren; and sisters, Margaret Thielman and Gladys Carlson McNealy.
Survivors include his sons, Elvin Sundgren and his wife, Janet, of Chester, and Harold Sundgren and his wife, Marjorie, of Dickinson, N.D.; sisters, Carol Ness of Seattle and Estrid Freeland of Great Falls; seven grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; numerous nephews and nieces.
Arrangements are by Rockman Funeral Chapel of Chester.