Life Story / Obituary
With a great sense of humor and undauntable spirit, Christopher Jeffrey Swanson I lived a life rich in family and friends. With signature enthusiasm, Chris embraced each person as a friend and each day as a gift. Resilient and positive, Chris met both life’s joys and trials with equal confidence and gratitude. In this way, he proved a powerful role model for all who were blessed to know him. Revered by many, Chris will long be remembered by all who were blessed to know him.
1975 proved a year of high drama as the Vietnam War finally came to an end and inflation spun out of control. Despite the stress that came with both of these historical events, the nation stayed centered in the sense of perseverance and creativity. Mood Rings, Rubik’s Cubes, and Magic 8 Balls provided much entertainment as hip hugger and leisure suit-wearing young people took to the Disco dance floors. Captain and Tennille dominated the charts with their infamous “Love Will Keep Us Together,” television was forever altered by the premier of Saturday Night Live, and theater goers found new fears in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Jaws.” As VCRs made their debut, Stephen Wozniak and Steven Jobs developed the Apple 1 prototype opening the door to many exciting hopes for the future. Nowhere was their more excitement and hope than in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as Jeffrey and Marcia (nee Pogorzelski) Swanson welcomed their son Christopher into their family on August 5.
Chris enjoyed an active childhood. Growing up on the east side of Milwaukee, Chris attended Catholic East Grade School through the 4th grade. As a young boy, Chris spent much time riding his little green machine up and down the block at Grandma Pogo’s, where on more than one occasion, he was “grounded” from using it as he had no fear of speed. Playing GI Joe with his company of Army men, was his favorite past time. With Grandma Swanson, he’d go to the movies to see Rambo features as his mom could not handle it. MacGyver was his favorite TV show, and he was known to use some of the tricks he learned from the show every now and then. Chris especially enjoyed visiting Great Grandma and Grandpa Sopa and their family on the farm in Amherst. Perhaps that is when the seeds of his interest in gardening with Grandma Pogo were first planted.
As he grew older, Chris enjoyed fishing, swimming, and riding his Mongoose bike. When he was entering the fifth grade, he and his mom, Marcia, moved to the south side of Milwaukee, where he attended St. John Kanty Grade School. It was here that he met his best friend and partner in crime, Donald Kwiecinski. One fate filled day at school, he pointed out a couple of pretty girls to Donald and asserted, “I’m going to marry that redhead one day.” Low and behold, “that redhead” was Joanne, Don’s sister. Long story short, Chris fulfilled on his proclamation many years later. After moving to the south side, Chris quickly made friends with a neighbor. Soon, they were spending their days together, building forts, and playing Rambo in the cemetery across the street from his house.
As a teen and throughout his adulthood, Chris became the ultimate fisherman. He also enjoyed deer hunting with bow and arrow and shotgun. He hunted bear in Maine, Minnesota, Wisconsin and wild boar in Texas. Many great hunting memories were made, and trophies soon hung on the walls, including the 375-pound full-mount bear that sat front and center in his living room for quite some time!
After giving up his first job, his paper route, Chris worked folding moving blankets for a friend’s dad. He then found permanent employment working for a local moving and storage company. Over the years, he served in various capacities and made lasting friendships, which ultimately turned into a brotherhood. He eventually found his true calling as a semi driver doing local runs for Conway Trucking. He was so proud and happy with that accomplishment.
Chris was blessed to marry his beloved Joanne, officially beginning their life of 28-years of adventure together. Though it was a culture shock for Chris, as an only child, to marry into Joanne’s large family, he soon grew to love the beautiful chaos that came with a family of 9 siblings. The happy couple was thrilled to welcome their first child, Christopher, into their family in 1994. Their family grew six years later when their daughter Isabel was born. Down the road, the family also included Chris’ beloved fur baby, Rocky, who was followed by a bigger fur baby, Ava. Without a doubt, Chris’ children were his heart’s delight. In addition to the days each of them was born, he was most proud of their accomplishments. Chris II was accepted into the Sheriff’s Training Academy, and Isabel was accepted by all four of the colleges to which she applied. It doesn’t get better than that.
A man who found joy in most everything, Chris enjoyed eating like you wouldn’t believe. He took much pride in his cooking and grilling, often improving upon recipes he saw on TV. His perpetual sweet tooth was legendary. Thus, all his nieces, nephews, and other little friends knew the goodies were at Uncle Chris’s house!
Creating a firework show for family and friends was on the top of his list during the summer months. He also enjoyed playing horseshoes and corn hole. Chris’ body art started at a very young age when he gave himself a couple of tattoos. Thankfully, he sought the help of a professional tattoo artist for his future body art. In total, he had 14 tattoos, including a favorite of the bear he shot in Maine. His most treasured tattoos were of young Chris’ initials on his forearm and Isabel’s baby footprints over his heart.
When he wasn’t watching cooking shows, including his favorite, Lidia Bastianich (American/Italian chef), the Investigation Discovery Channel was always on at the Swanson house. Chris also had a special fondness for shoot-em-up movies, both classics and contemporary. Chris took a break from the TV watching every now and then to go on his annual fishing trips with his buddies. Sometimes they would travel by barge and others they’d cruise across the lakes in Northern Wisconsin. He didn’t always get the biggest fish, but he had the best time!!
In addition to his hunting trips, Chris enjoyed vacationing with family and friends. Trips to Missouri, Nashville, Chicago, Alabama, and Florida were always an adventure. His last and most exciting adventure with his family and Aunt Gail was a cruise where they visited Tortola Island. While there, he insisted on renting scooters to tour the island. However, Joanne, Isabel, and Aunt Gail were having none of it. So, it was Daddy Chris and young Chris off to explore the bumpy terrain. As the women feared, calamity ensued. As Chris road up the winding road, his scooter stalled out, and he promptly rolled backward and fell into the brush. Upon his scratched up and bloody return, he enthusiastically declared, “it was all worth it!” On his way home from this trip, Chris was able to reconnect with his family in Florida. Getting to share time with Jeffrey, Johany, George, Zai, Liam, Stefanie, Derek, Teagan, and Jude proved a great time for all!
Chris sure had a way with words. Clearly, his all-time favorite phrase was “don’t be a dumb ass,” but we won’t share any specifics on the situations that inspired his usage. “Dude, you gotta try this,” and “I’ll buy if you fly” were other favorites. Often heard in the Swanson household was “Joanne, get the dogs some water.” “Chico” was a term of endearment the family frequently heard. When his mom couldn’t hear him, or just wasn’t listening to him, he let out a big and loud “MARCIA” or “Maaaaaa” that was sure to grab everyone’s attention!
Chris was a great, funny, stubborn person who possessed a beautiful soul; that is the Swanson way. A courageous man and a true-to-the-core fighter of all things evil, Chris met life’s challenges with signature strength. This was most evident in his battle with cancer, which he met with remarkable resilience and an amazingly positive attitude. While our days with Chris were far too few, may we find deep comfort in knowing that the best of his legacy lives in each of our hearts. With each lunker we pursue, hunting trip we take, challenges we courageously meet, and moments we gather for a family feast, we celebrate the many ways Chris gifted our lives. And, in this way, Chris will continue to inspire others as he so inspired us.
Christopher J. Swanson I Passed Away on Saturday, November 16, 2019, after a courageous battle with cancer at the age of 44 years old. Beloved husband of Joanne. Cherished father of Chris II and Isabel. Loving son of Marcia (Jeff) Edgar and the late Jeffrey Swanson. Dear brother of Jeffrey, George, and Stefanie. Further survived by aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and friends.
Family and friends will gather for a Celebration of Chris’ Life on Saturday, November 30th from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM at the Light Palace, 5880 S. Packard Ave, in Cudahy, WI.