Robert Leonard Swanson was born June 13, 1935, in Havre, Mont., to Leonard and Mary (LaBuda) Swanson. He was joined shortly thereafter by his twin sister, Roberta and three years later by his younger sister, Marian.
He was raised on the family farm west of Big Sandy and attended Mountain View Elementary School and Big Sandy High School. Upon his graduation from high school in 1953, he attended Northern Montana College, where he received a certificate in mechanics and subsequently worked at Placer Motors in Helena, Mont.
He returned to Northern Montana College a few years later to finish his degrees in auto mechanics and industrial arts. He began his teaching career at North Toole County High School in Sunburst, Mont. It was there that he met and married fellow teacher, Marilyn Grande, in August 1964.
In the fall of 1964, he returned to Northern Montana College, only this time as a teacher. A year later, he was asked to return to NTCHS, where he taught the next 28 years. He was a very charismatic and respected teacher, working with students in the classroom and as an adviser for Plymouth Troubleshooting competitions. His true love was the classroom, and many of his fondest memories were of his experiences with his students.
Upon his retirement from NTCHS in 1992, he returned to the family farm in Big Sandy to take over where his father and uncle had left off. When his battle with Parkinson’s disease left him unable to continue his work on the farm, he passed it on to his daughter and son-in-law, who operate it along with their sons.
Robert was active as a member of the church councils of Sunburst Lutheran Church and Christ Lutheran Church in Big Sandy. He also spent many hours working alongside his friend and fellow board member, Keith Edwards, to create a new addition to the Big Sandy Historical Society Museum.
In 2011, he moved to Big Sandy Medical Center, where he lived until his death on Sept. 26, 2013.
Robert is survived by his wife, Marilyn; son, Glen of Choteau; daughter. Melanie (Shaud) Schwarzbach; and three grandsons, Eric, Tyler and Cameron. He is also survived by sisters, Roberta Whetham of Big Sandy, and Marian Behm of Columbia Falls. and numerous nieces and nephews.
Memorial services will be held Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church in Big Sandy. Memorials are suggested to Christ Lutheran Church of Big Sandy, Sunburst Lutheran Church or North Toole County High School. A scholarship fund has been established in his memory.
Condolences can be made to www.misermortuaries.com.