Leonard J. Swenson, 97, passed away on Feb. 14th at Our House Memory Care in Richland Center, WI. Leonard was born on Dec. 7, 1924 to Luther and Hilda (Everson) Swenson of Hickory Grove Township, rural Boscobel, WI. He attended Brindley and Homer rural schools through eighth grade. He graduated from Boscobel High School in 1942. After farming with his parents for a few years, he attended Northwestern Bible College in St. Paul, MN and subsequently received a BA from Platteville State College. He was married to Lois Giles of Duluth, MN on June 10, 1949 in Duluth. Lois proceeded him in death on August 10, 2010.
In 1955 Leonard and Lois left the US to spent over 35 years as missionaries with Kids Alive International children's homes in Ramallah, Palestine and Beirut, Lebanon. During that time, in addition to raising their four children, they raised and mentored hundreds of boys who were sheltered, nourished, educated and introduced to the gospel of Christ while in their care. After retiring, the Swensons lived in St. Paul, MN, continuing to travel for and represent the mission. In 2009 they moved back to Leonard's childhood farm in Homer, rural Boscobel with son Dan and daughter-in-law Cathy. Leonard moved to Our House Memory Care in Richland Center, WI in 2019.
In retirement Leonard loved gardening, building birdhouses, setting up slideshows of his photography, and cutting and splitting firewood. He could swing a mean splitting maul well into his 90s. As his health declined, he retained his love of gospel music and being around young children. His grand and great-grandchildren brought him great joy even deep into his progressing dementia.
Leonard was also preceded in death by his parents and his sister and brother-in-law, Harriet and Paul Russell. He also mourned the loss of many of his “sons” some of whom were victims of the wars and unrest in the Middle East.
Leonard is survived by his four children; Dan (Cathy) Swenson, rural Boscobel, Becky (Jed) Hamoud, St. Paul, MN, David Swenson, Liberty Township, OH, daughter-in-law Joyce Swenson, Mechanicsville, VA, and Ruth (Tony) Thompson, Laurel, MD. His grandchildren are Tami (Moryam) Van Opstal, Irving, TX, Jaimi (Eric) Barkley, Madison, WI. Mandi Swenson, Alexandria, VA, Melody (James Hendry) Hamoud, Washington DC, Bethany Hamoud, Seattle, WA, Brent (Ruth) Hamoud, Beirut, Lebanon, Kent Hamoud, Arlington, WI, Kari (Andrew) Nicholls, Sunbury, OH, Tarik (Mindi) Swenson, Duquoin, IL, Kyle (Rachel) Swenson, Mechanicsville, VA, Erin (David) Kopp, Liberty Township, OH, Grace Thompson, London, England, AnnaJoy (Logan) Harris, Laurel, MD, and Brendan Thompson, Boulder, CO. Leonard had 24 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by special grandsons, Cham Omot of St. Paul and Lloyd (Alexandra) Saye, Sufflok, VA and hundreds of men he raised who now live all over the world.
The family wishes to thank all the families, friends and churches who supported Leonard and Lois during their missionary service. A special thanks goes to the staff at Our House Memory Care in Richland Center for the loving care they provided. During the final months and especially the final days, St. Croix Hospice personnel were a constant and compassionate presence.
Thanks also to the Kendall Funeral Home in Boscobel for help with final arrangements.
Reunions, family gatherings, and events honoring Leonard are being planned for this coming summer at the family farm, rural Boscobel and at Dar-el-Awlad in Lebanon. A private burial will be in the Homer Cemetery, Hickory Grove Township.
Memorials may be sent to Kids Alive International, 2507 Cumberland Dr., Valparaiso, IN 46383. Please designate gifts to Leonard Swenson's memory. The funds will be used for higher education and vocational training scholarships in Lebanon.