Heather M.F. Swenson

Honored by:Paul Swenson
Brick location:D:8  map

Heather Swenson was born in 1924 in Uxbridge, England not far from London. She joined the Red Cross as a clerical worker immediately after leaving boarding school and spent some of the war years working in Belgium. In 1947, Heather began working as a secretary for Sir Francis Simon at the Clarendon Laboratories and it was there that she met Clayton Swenson, a young American who was pursuing graduate work in physics at Oxford. Heather and Clayton were married in England in 1950.

Heather spent her first three years of married life in Cambridge, Massachusetts where Clayton was senior tutor at Leverett House. Anna was born just before the end of Clayton's three year appointment there and Paul arrived after the family purchased a house in Lexington. In 1955, Heather and Clayton decided to move to Ames, Iowa where Clayton accepted a position in low temperature physics at Iowa State University. Wendy was born in Ames and Heather devoted her life to the raising of her three children until her death from cancer in 1977. She participated in many church school and community activities including volunteer work with mentally retarded adults. The family maintained a close relationship with Heather's relatives making frequent summer visits to England and spending a year near London in 1974 - 75. It was not until after her return from the family's year in England twenty-five years after her arrival in the United States as a new bride, that Heather decided to become an American citizen.

Heather's many contributions to the lives of those around her were of a highly personal nature. She devoted enormous time and energy to her children deriving great pleasure from their growth and achievements. From her they acquired a love of music and travel, an interest in people, and a desire to use their talents to benefit others. Heather was a gifted listener with the rare capacity to accept people without judging them. She earned the trust and respect of many friends who often shared their joys and sorrows with her over a cup of afternoon tea.

Heather's friendship with Louise Carlson who is also remembered here, dated from her time in Oxford before her marriage. Louise and her husband Bille moved to Ames in the early 1950's and helped to ease Heather’s transition from New England to the Midwest when Clayton accepted the position at Iowa State. Louise and Heather remained friends for nearly thirty years cementing a bond between the two families that continues today.

This memorial was contributed by Heather's children Anna, Paul, and Wendy Swenson

Submitted on 7/1/96