Insight News

Feb 13th

Swenson murder shocks, saddens neighbors, friends

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Photo credit: Roberta Aitchison OlsonThe murder of 76-year-old Lois Swenson has shocked and saddened friends and neighbors in North Minneapolis who knew her, and people who knew of her and her generosity, kindness, and passion for justice.

Police found Swenson dead in her bedroom around noon Wednesday June 13th, on the 2200 block of Vincent Avenue North in response to friends’ reporting that they hadn't heard from her. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the cause of death was a homicide.

Her friend, Pat Jordan, told television reporters that Swenson’s murder was particularly hard.

“It’s very difficult, because she was such a giving, open person,” said Jordan. “She was just an advocate of assisting other people who needed help, and people loved her.”

“She made such an impression on so many others, and that is a legacy,” said Jordan.

A StarTribune report quoted her friend Joe Hesla.

"She was 24-hours a day peace and justice," said Hesla. "She didn't spare anybody. She would get in her friends' faces about how they lived their life and she'd go up to total strangers and talk to them about issues and she just never stopped. She never stopped."

Neighbors and friends commented on Swenson’s life and death in social media:

This is so unbelievable to us. Lois was such a gentle soul. Paul and I are stunned. We are in Korea right now and wish we could be with you all to grieve this great loss. Please know that we are with you in spirit. Peace – The Ormans.

Dear all, I too am at a loss for words over the loss we all feel. We all know her as a true activist for human rights. She was not much for theory. She was always practical. She did what needed to be done. I also realized that she was a teacher and she taught by doing. I learnt much from her. Deep down I knew she will be gone someday. But I never expected it to be this way. Let us all keep in touch…. – Teferi.

Dear Friends of Lois,   It is with much sadness that I write this journal entry.  For those of you who have not yet been notified, Lois died this past week; her body was found in her home on Wed.  Details of her death are not yet clear, but police are investigating it as a homicide.  A service will be scheduled at a later time.

I'm sure all will agree with me - we have lost one terrific friend and advocate for the underprivileged.   For me - much of who I am, I owe to Lois.  So much have I learned from her - never lecturing me... never uncomfortable arguments...but mostly though her fine example and obvious concern for the poor and disadvantaged.  Lois - we'll miss you much!  Thank you, thank you, thank you. For who you were. For everything!

What a wonderful person she was! – Bill.

A pure and beautiful light, one that has guided me and so many others here and in the world, is now out. I am at a loss to say any more, so I am forwarding this message from a friend. – Roberta.

To others I know and don't, it is very hard for me and many Oromo friends that she had made since 1979, to accept the reality that a fine human being is gone. She campaigned for justice, equality and peace. She taught us how to recycle and save but never got mad at anyone when we got comfortable with using use-and-throw-away things. I guess she never had room in her heart for words like, "greed" and "anger", the cause of many conflicts in the world. It is very hard to imagine that someone is as cruel as that to take her life away.

May God give her the final rest and peace, for which she struggled for so many years. Those of us that are still around really need a lot of strength to hang in there… – Daniel.


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