Sven Swanson took a few steps back in time recently when he sat with Treasurer Stenberg in the Treasurer’s private office in Suite 2005 of the State Capitol. That’s the same office Swanson’s late grandfather, Clarence Swanson, occupied in the early 1960s.
Stenberg was in junior high school back then; Sven Swanson was just a child.
Swanson, now a pathologist in Athens, Georgia, says he has fond childhood memories of his grandfather, but he is curious to find out more, and a visit to his grandfather’s former office was a prerequisite. “My own father only had good things to say about him,” Dr. Swanson said, adding that he started asking questions “way too late.”
He does have these recollections: His grandfather was gregarious. He worked way too hard. He smoked cigars. He liked golf. And he passed out silver dollars to his grandchildren when he saw them. Treasurer Swanson’s golf clubs recently were passed down to his grandson.
Treasurer Swanson, who was born in Wausa and lived in Omaha, was elected to office in 1960 and re-elected in 1962. One undated photograph shows Treasurer Swanson surrounded by congratulatory bouquets of flowers in the Treasurer’s Office, probably on his 1962 election. Before taking office, Treasurer Swanson, a Republican, had been assistant treasurer and office manager for C. A. Swanson and Sons in Omaha.
Treasurer Swanson tragically was killed in 1964 by a drunk driver in Lincoln. He died one day before his 67th birthday.
Dr. Swanson says, as a pathologist who has worked in the field of forensic pathology, he feels like he knows more about his grandfather’s death than his life. From a news article that described the former Treasurer’s initial condition after the accident and then his death a day later, Dr. Swanson concluded that his grandfather suffered a ruptured aorta. His suspicion was confirmed when he obtained his grandfather’s death certificate.
“It was the classic story of a ruptured aorta,” he said, noting that today a patient would undergo a CT scan to quickly confirm the injury.
Treasurer Stenberg shared information about changes in state government since his predecessor’s term in office. In the 1950s, all state government was located in the Capitol, Stenberg said. But in the intervening years, the Legislature has taken over more of the building. Likewise, he said, he imagines all of the State Treasurer’s duties would have taken place in the suite of offices in the Capitol when Swanson was Treasurer. Now, the Treasurer’s work takes place in three locations.