Our Wonderful Friend, Lois Swenson

 Our friend forever...

From Lois
Media Reports
75th Birthday Party
With Friends
Dumpster Diving
More Pictures
Contact Us

Lois's Fund Update Milestone Met, December 2014


Dear Friends and Family of Lois Swenson,  


Thanksgiving Day was Lois’ birthday.  How wonderful it is to think of her life with such gratitude

and warmth.  Even though we mourn her physical passing, we—friends, family, neighbors, and

coworkers—are determined to keep her vision and work alive. Please join us as we celebrate an

amazing milestone from a seed that was planted at the time of her death.  Use this holiday

season to continue her work!


This November, just prior to her birthday, the first sprout poked through the earth.  The Lois

Swenson Fund for Peace, Justice, and Sustainable Communities accomplished its goal of collecting

$10,000.  The fund is now an endowment and our garden is stirring! Our deepest gratitude goes

to many of you who donated to this fund over the last two years! (60 donors to date)


Having reached this goal, the Lois Fund Advisory Board* met recently to review several community projects, and decided on our

first grant.  The first Lois Fund grantee is the Wirth Co-op.  Started by a small northside community group, including Lois, the

Wirth Co-op now has over 220 members and working relationships with the City of Minneapolis, local businesses, other food co-

ops, and local food producers. Wirth Co-op also recently received a $500,000 federal grant to construct a building.  It can’t be

touched for operating expenses.


At this time, the Wirth Co-op’s challenge is to support the cost of outreach and education to grow the membership and implement

the business plan. Even though this first grant is small, it supports this important effort to provide accessible, affordable and healthy

food to the north Metro.  As you know, Lois was about food justice.  If she was still with us, she’d be encouraging us to become

members of Wirth Co-op, and reminding us to bring our bodies to the project. Go to: www.wirthcoop.com  to learn more.


At first, some of us wondered whether the Lois Fund could become a reality. Lois would be smiling at our lack of faith. She would

tell us to turn the compost (learn more), spread it around (reach out and organize) and celebrate growth together.


Our Advisory Board has a vision to grow the Lois Fund to support more efforts like the Wirth Co-op that will help shift our

communities towards more equity and opportunity.  We plan to give out grants twice a year to continue Lois’ work and support her

vision.  Please consider a tax deductible gift in honor of Lois this holiday season.  Send donations to:  InFaith Community

Foundation, 625 Fourth Ave. S. Suite 1500, Minneapolis, MN 55415.  Write “The Lois Swenson Fund” on the memo line.  Visit



We are grateful for your help to continue Lois’ legacy, by fertilizing this seed of an idea, and helping to promote Lois’ Vision for

peace, justice, and a sustainable world! 


In gratitude,

The Lois Swenson Fund for Peace, Justice and Sustainable Communities

*Advisory Board:  Charlotte Vick, Diane Boushek, Judy Swenson, Lottie Matkovits, Rachel Hefte, Roberta Olson, and  Sonya Forseth.

Questions?  Contact Co-Chairs:  Rachel at rhefte@visi.com or Roberta at  roberta.a.olson@gmail.com


About Lois Swenson:  Lois Swenson (1935 -2012),  teacher, humanitarian, peace activist, neighbor, and advocate, lived her faith in

many ways.  She committed her life to educating children to engage in the community and world around them; to promoting

human rights and neighborhood involvement; to environmental protection and sustainability through organic farming and

community gardening; to promoting self-determination of oppressed people; and to collaborating with church leaders to enact just

policies.  She lived and worked in Wisconsin, Minnesota and the world.

Read more about Lois at  http://www.loisswenson.com/


Artwork above is copyrighted by InFaith Community Foundation, www.InFaithFound.org


Update on "Lois's Bench at Augsburg", October 2014


Dear Friends and Family of Lois,

     Yea! We have received $1720 from all you generous people who have
already responded. Thank you so much. We are well on our way to reaching

our $2500 goal so we can have Edward Wohl begin work on Lois’s bench! So

exciting to see this coming together.

     Paul and Dean Swenson have already harvested the wood from their farm

and it is drying so it will be ready for use when the funding is complete.

     As you see, although we have heard from many people, we still need

$780.00 before we are ready to give the Swensons and Mr. Wohl the go-ahead. I

know many of you are excited about establishing this tribute at Augsburg College

for Lois. If you haven’t donated yet, try to do so as soon as you can so we can

make this wonderful Lois Tribute a reality!

Just a reminder of basic info:

  1. Samples of Mr. Wohl’s work can be seen at www.edwardwohl.com.

  2. Checks should be made payable to “Lois Swenson Bench”. (Please do not add the word “memorial”.)

  3. Questions or concerns may be addressed to me: jmariejo@comcast.net

  4. Checks should be mailed to:

Lois Swenson Bench

PO Box 15671

Minneapolis, MN 55415

 Thank you all very much.  

Janie Johnson and the Lois Circle




A Letter to Family and Friends, September 2014


Dear Family and Friends of Lois Swenson,                                              


I know everyone is still hoping to hear that the investigation into Lois’s tragic death
has been successful. Unfortunately, two-plus years after her death, no one has been
arrested. The police tell us the investigation continues, but so far, it appears to be at an
impasse. though the police say they do have "a person of interest" in the case.  We are
all still hoping for resolution and closure in this unbelievable crime against a beautiful
and caring woman, who was, in many different ways, dear to us all.
                                                Lois’s Legacy 
Meanwhile, we have been discussing what we can do to mark Lois’s passing and to
honor her legacy. We have thought about the fact that one of Lois’s first priorities was
to touch young people, to make sure they had a realistic world view and that they
understood the role they could and should play as a citizen of that world. We have
considered a number of places for a tribute to Lois, but in light of the fact that on her
passing she left her entire estate to Augsburg College, it seems to be the most
appropriate place. She admired and venerated their school, and especially loved their
Center for Global Education, which changed dramatically the direction of her life.
                                           Lois Swenson Bench 
Augsburg has expressed its willingness and enthusiasm for allowing her friends and
family to place a beautiful bench to honor Lois’s legacy in their library, crafted out of
organic hardwoods from the Swenson family farm, milled by Lois’s brothers, and built by
a Swenson family friend and artisan, Edward Wohl.  You can see samples of his work on
his website at http://edwardwohl.com. Ed knew Lois personally and has said it would be
an honor to build this tribute to her. The price for the bench would be $2500, which,
considering his reputation as an artisan and builder seems like a small price to pay for a
beautiful and lasting legacy.  Fundraising has already begun, and $700 has been raised.
We are asking that you, her friends and family, contribute whatever you deem
appropriate to move us along toward the goal.
A dedicated account for these funds has been set up at Wings Financial Credit Union.
Checks should be made payable to “Lois Swenson Bench”. (Please do not add the word
“memorial”.) Checks should be mailed to:
Lois Swenson Bench
P.O. Box 15671
Minneapolis, MN, 55415.
Donations will not be tax deductible.
The members of Lois’s family are pleased and comforted by the vision of this tribute to
Lois being placed at Augsburg College where it will be viewed and used by hundreds of
students, and that students will be inspired and empowered by her life as a  peace
activist, environmentalist, humanitarian, and world citizen.
                                                Lois’s Inspiration 
Lois was a unique, endlessly caring person who was a champion of the earth and of
people everywhere. She never stopped in her tireless efforts to make the world a better
place. Please help us make sure Lois Swenson’s amazing story is not forgotten and that
her work can go on, raising awareness and inspiring people. We can then all feel that,
through our efforts, “Lois Lives!”
Questions may be sent to me at jmariejo@comcast.net .  Also check for updates on the
investigation, contributions from friends, and on fundraising progress at
Thank you very much.
Jane Johnson and the Lois Circle:
Debbie Andresen                            Barb Vallecillo
Pat Jordan                                     Toni Collins
Sonya Forseth                                Rachel Hefte
Patty Guerrero                               Margaret Rudeen
Roberta Aitchison Olson                  Diane Boushek
Evie Maanum                                 Lotti Matkovits
Pat Eliason                                     Char Vick
Bill Swing                                       Addissee Geneeti

Friends Remembering Lois, September 2014

Compiled by Janie Johnson

“This was Lois - all encompassing, offering beauty, succor, and completion - to all she encountered.” - Toni Collins

“She was 24 hours a day peace and justice. She didn’t spare anybody. She would get in friends’ faces about how they lived their lives. She’d go up to total strangers and talk to them about issues and she just never stopped. She never stopped.” - Joe Hesla

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. It’s about creating yourself.” - Lois Swenson 

“Lois was the most loving person. To think she could have died as a result of some kind of injustice is just unbelievable to me. I’ll miss her every day.” - Sonya Forseth 

“I saw how her compassion and empathy…..showed up in her life. Her presence was so big and warm and embracing. She enriched my life and I will miss her as long as I have breath.” - Colleen Munn


“A couple of hours spent with Lois, Her quick, delighted laugh,
Warm hugs when you arrive and when you leave.
The pleasure she showed in just having you there,
What a privilege to have had her for a friend,
Her house a favorite place to visit in memory.” - Janie Johnson
“There was no one else like Lois. One of my relatives said, when she heard of Lois’s death, ‘The world has lost a great warrior.’ “- Pat Eliason

“It is amazing how she spent every waking moment bettering this world of ours.” - Todd Pulvermacher 

“She built community wherever she walked and talked. She would often ask a student what they were protesting, rather than what their major was.” - Nicole Hiedeman 

“So much have I learned from you, Lois…..mostly through your fine example and obvious concern for the disadvantaged. Thank you, thank you…for who you were, for everything.” - Bill Swing 

“Miss Swenson was the first person to teach me about where things that were ‘thrown away’ actually go, and why we should put less of them there.” - Nicole W. 

“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 for words.” - Roberta Aitchison

“I guess she never had room in her heart for words like greed or anger.” - Daniel 

“We should all stop every now and then, and ask ourselves, ‘What would Lois do?’ It really hurts that this amazing woman will never again share a conversation with me, but she lives on in all of us.  Lois, I will always be a scroungy dumpster diver.” - Todd Pulvermacher 

“Lois, you’ll alway be a strong presence in my life, thanks to the imprint you left on my heart. BUT, I miss you so! I miss your laughter, your sense of humor, your ability to laugh at your own endearing quirks! There will be a huge void from now on.” - Lotti Matkovits

“A brilliant star has fallen from the sky.

The night is darker and the sun less bright.
How blessed we were to have had an earthly angel,
An agent of change, living in our neighborhood.” - Linda Thomas
“…But more than anything, you exuded love, and we are all better persons because you have touched our lives.” - Meredith Sommers

MAY DAY PARADE 2014 - View News Broadcast

See pictures of this event by clicking Here!

Channel 12 Brookland Park


Mpls. Police Just Need A Little More Info To Arrest Suspect In Woman’s Killing. Cick to view broadcast:



MINNEAPOLIS Crime Stoppers, March 3rd, 2014 

Minneapolis police and Crime Stoppers of Minnesota are partnering to offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the June 2012 murder of peace activist Lois Swenson.

Swenson, 76, was found murdered in her home on the 2200 block of Vincent Ave. N. on June 13, 2012. When police arrived to perform a welfare check, she had already been dead for a couple of weeks. The home was locked and there was no sign of forced entry.

Last May, Minneapolis police thought they were close to making an arrest, believing the killer is someone she knew.

"She'd help people get on their feet, and we believe someone may have taken advantage of that," Lt. Rick Zimmerman told Fox 9.

Anyone with information is asked to send a text to 847 411, enter MPD and the tip, or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477(TIPS), text TIP674 plus your information to 274637(CRIMES) or go to the Crime Stoppers website at http://www.crimestoppersmn.org/crimeoftheweek.aspx click on "Submit a Web Tip". All callers are given a unique identifier and no names are used.

Read more: Star Tribune Article


HAPPY 78TH BIRTHDAY LOIS!   WE MISS YOU!!  November 27th, 2013

Dear Friends of Lois Swenson,  

We are remembering Lois today as she would have turned 78 if she was still here with us on our little blue planet.  Happy Birthday Lois! Sonya wrote a fitting picture of what she'd see Lois doing today: 

I like to think of Lois having all the other saints in for a party today.  There will be beans and rice, hot tea, cloth napkins and chipped dishes and oh-so much laughter and happiness. No sorrows today or any day, just supreme peacefulness that baffles understanding.   

Indeed, Lois was a model of eco-friendly hospitality and she was so generous.  How many times did she send you away with something recycled?!?  She was our modern day saint and many of us still can't get over that she is gone.  But we are comforted with great memories of having tea with Lois, learning together, discussing issues at length, protesting downtown, and even showing up for Thanksgiving and only getting rice!  (OK, that doesn't seem so comforting, but that experience really did make a point.).  



So today, we are thankful for all the lesson   s we learned from Lois.  How she nudged each of us to live more simply and work for justice. How she dragged us to hear speakers we weren't sure we wanted to hear.  How she brought us on trips to see how others lived--and how we all are richer as a result of these experiences.    

We are also thankful for her New Years' gatherings, where we got to meet each other.  And how friends of Lois are now coming together, to explore how we can continue her peace and justice work.  Many of us feel so blessed as we get to know each other and share stories.  We even feel healing comfort, as we grieve, of being with others that are part of the larger Lois' family.  (We hope you can join us for a Lois' gathering sometime soon....watch for announcements via email and on her website!) 


It is in this spirit of gratitude that members of the Lois' Circle and Lois' family has been exploring how we can "pay it forward" and work on Lois' Vision.  The Lois Fund for Peace, Justice, and Sustainable Communities was set up at the Lutheran Community Foundation after Lois' death in June of 2012.  The fund continues to grow and we hope to reach our goal of $10,000 by July 2014.  (We are getting closer, currently at $6,000, climbing slowly, and hope you can help us reach our goal!) 

Just last week, six of us met to brainstorm "What would Lois be doing now (if she was still with us) to be working on peace, justice and sustainable communities?"   The key issues that surfaced included 1) food and farming 2) environmental issues 3) human rights and 4) Empowering teens + peace.   While Lois worked on many issues and we can't support them all, the themes of learning (by doing) and working with youth stood out.  As we work to build the fund, we hope to collaborate with a non-profit in early 2014 to host a Lois Festival to educate on her issues, share Lois' story, and create awareness about the Lois Fund.    

To learn more about the Lois Fund, you can visit the website.


If you want to donate you can make a check payable to: 

Lutheran Community Foundation
625 Fourth Ave. S., Suite 1500,
Minneapolis, MN 55415   

NOTE: please indicate "The Lois Swenson Memorial Fund" in the memo field of the check.  

Thanks for remembering Lois with us on her birthday and during this Thanksgiving season.  

Blessings to you and your families as you gather for Thanksgiving!  

Rachel Hefte and Roberta Olson for...

-The Lois Circle 



Channel 9 Fox TV News, May 30th, 2013