Jan. 27, 1932 — Jan. 13, 2023
Holden – Joan Swanson, 90, the loving daughter of Swedish immigrants, Ivan ( Hilding Ivan Olaf) Lundquist and Florence Cecelia ( Westerholm ) Lundquist passed away peacefully on January 13, 2023, surrounded by family. She fought a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s and was adored by all of her family and caretakers during the process.
She was born in Worcester, MA on January 27, 1932. As a child, she lived in Shrewsbury, MA where her parents were the caretakers of the Scandinavian Athletic Club for many years. They eventually moved to her long-term family home in Holden. As a child, she sang in the formal opening of the 1938 tercentenary celebration of the New Sweden settlement in Delaware, performed by the Framat Club, juvenile organization of the Worcester Vasa Committee. She also performed a solo at the age of 5 on ” Broadcasting House Radio “ WORC and many other Swedish celebrations with the Worcester Vasa Committee.
Joan graduated from the former Holden High School, Bridgewater State College and did some graduate work at Springfield College. At that time, women were not allowed to complete their master’s degree, but she took as many courses as she was permitted at the time. When doing her student teaching at the YMCA, she met her future husband and love of her life, Dick. They were married for 59 years. Dick predeceased her in death in 2014. They met when dating other people and it was a crash greeting. A few years later, they were married in an elaborate ceremony with the reception being celebrated at her childhood home and catered by her mother and many aunts.
Joan was a physical education teacher at Flagg Street School, Tatnuck Street School, and West Boylston High School. She also coached girls’ basketball and field hockey at West Boylston. Joan later taught adaptive physical education at Wachusett Regional High School and in her retirement, was a substitute physical education teacher at Wachusett Regional High School.
In their retirement, she and her husband skied almost daily at Mt. Wachusett, meeting up with other retired skiers and forming friendships that extended beyond the slopes and to other interests. She and her husband also spent time at their summer home in Maine, and travelled to CA to visit family, and to Virginia to visit their youngest daughter. She and her husband also took their three children on many road trips, spanning Massachusetts to Maine, New York, Montana, Wyoming, and road trips across the country to CA , trips to Canada and Niagara Falls.
For many years, she co-owned and operated Piney Acres Day Camp in Holden MA, with her husband, Dick, teaching many children to swim, play games, participate in nature hikes and archery as well as Arts and Crafts and Skits. There on Eagle Lake, they also shared treasured time with family and friends, working, entertaining, and having family cookouts. It was a special place for Joan. She was also a co-owner and operator of the former Alpine Ski Shop in Holden, operated with her husband, parents and her brother and sister-in-law.
Her greatest role, however, was that of mother and grandmother, and she played that role with a passion. She guided, taught, and sang to all of her grandkids and time at her home was always an adventure from swimming to baking, gardening to hiking, taking trips to the library, reading, and always offering a loving presence. She exuded optimism and was always a burst of sunshine on a rainy day. In her last months of life, her caretakers would sing “You are my sunshine” to her and she was our ray of sunshine. She taught her family the values of family relationships, the Golden Rule and to be honest and true to yourself. Joan was polite, respectful to all and always a lady. She upheld all of these principles until the day she died.
Joan was a quiet, simple, sweet woman who never wanted to bother anyone, mostly a homebody, but she was also outgoing and active in the community with her husband and loved people. Over the years, Joan and her husband, Dick hosted many social gatherings, weddings, birthdays, family celebrations and as kids, her children have fond memories of the many Sliding parties at her home, with skating, sledding and x-country skiing.
Joan was a former member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Holden, the White Oaks Conservation Committee and the Friends of Eagle Lake campaign and participated in Friends of Eagle Lake into her late eighties. Her chocolate cake and blonde brownies were a big hit for her husband’s “Knights of the Round Table” group, where she always provided refreshments. She was enthusiastic, a burst of energy, but also a calming and grounding comfort to her family. Joan was selfless and would even give her family members gifts on her birthday, grateful for participating in their lives and having them around her. Her motto was always the 4 F’s- Family, Food, Fun and Friends.
Joan was predeceased by her parents, Florence and Ivan Lundquist and her brother, Weyman Lundquist. She leaves her three children, Jodi ( Dave ) Utter, Peter Swanson (and his long-term partner, Melissa Bullard) , Juli Swanson ( Marty) Deahl, and five grandchildren, Janelle ( Josh) Tanenbaum, Devin Utter ( and his long-term girlfriend, Meg Mulcahy), Laurel ( James) McEwan, Lyra Deahl and Braden Deahl. Great grandbaby Mc Ewan is also on the way. Joan also leaves three nieces and four nephews and her long- term family friend, Ruth Kaufman.
The family wants to thank all of the staff at Sunrise Senior Living in Leominster for their nurturance and care of our mother during the last months of her life, Hospice nurse Andy , and Glenn, social worker, the staff at Always There Home Care and Melissa for their ongoing support and dedication to Joan’s comfort at this difficult time. We also want to say a special thanks to Frisco, our therapy dog, for his weekly visits and cheer to all the residents at Sunrise.
Calling hours will be held on Thursday, January 19th from 4-6 p.m in Fellowship Hall at Immanuel Lutheran Church. A Celebration of Life service will be held on Friday, January 20th at 11:00 a.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church , 346 Shrewsbury Street, Holden . Burial will be private. Fay Brothers Life Celebration Home in West Boylston are managing arrangements.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Alzheimer’s Association or Children’s Friend Inc. Worcester, MA, 01609.