Ina Maria Swanson was born January 6, 1931, in Missoula, MT to Eric and Clara Ranstrom. Ina passed peacefully July 11, 2022, surrounded by her family. Her parents were both from Varmland, Sweden and immigrated to Missoula. Her Swedish heritage and traditions were a thread throughout her life, and she was an active member in Vasa Order of America, a Swedish Heritage Group. She attended Bonner School through 6th grade, then moved to Missoula where she attended Hawthorne Grade School and Missoula County High School. Ina developed a love for singing through participation in multiple high school choir groups and formed The Katoonah Trio with her sister, Edie and friend. The Katoonah Trio won trips to sing at the National 4-H Congress and the 4-H Club National Convention. She sang in the Immanuel Lutheran Church choir for many years and also with the Treasure State Chorale.
Ina married Gordon E. Swanson August 12, 1951. Gordon and Ina were blessed with three children; John, Linnea, and Cheryl. Together, Gordon and Ina created a beautiful family, in which they were most proud of, and enjoyed 64 wonderful years of marriage. Family gatherings, dinners, holidays and birthdays were always special for Ina and she never missed an event or a chance to go shopping with her children or grandchildren.
Ina enjoyed a variety of jobs growing up, from newspaper delivery to sales at the Missoula Mercantile. While at the Mercantile she used her love for sewing to make dresses for the window display manikins. She worked for many years at the Missoula Mercantile Credit Union, as the Secretary-Treasurer, which she thoroughly enjoyed. She served as a current board member of MM Credit Union at the time of her death.
Ina also belonged to Immanuel Lutheran Church, where she enjoyed decades of faith, family and friends. At the time of her passing, she was the oldest baptized charter member. Through the church she helped settle Vietnam Refugees, where she created life-long relationships. She delivered Meals on Wheels for many years, belonged to Orchard Homes Country Life Club and other organizations in support of others. Along with Gordon, Ina became active in DAV and Ex POWs. After retirement, Gordon and Ina attended Gordon’s 99th Infantry reunions and D393 Division reunion, and enjoyed trips down the Mississippi River, visited the Hawaiian Islands, and visited relatives in Sweden.
Ina belonged to a special group, “Sewing Club”, a group of 10 women, ages spanning 20 years. Sewing Club met evenings at homes to patch socks, raise or lower skirts and pants, paint crafts, knit or do other hand crafts. Jokes collected before meetings were shared regularly. Sewing Club was a close-knit group having members over 50 years together. Sewing Club husbands treated the group to dinner and dancing a couple times a year. Ina was the last living member of Sewing Club.
Ina was the most lively, joyful and caring person her family has ever known. She enjoyed so many wonderful things about life and had many hobbies, including, gardening, painting, wallpapering, sewing, cake decorating, Tole and free-hand painting, cooking, card games, and especially, being with family and friends. Ina enjoyed Montana’s beauty at Holland Lake and their cabin on Flathead Lake. Ina cherished visits, laughter and memories made with her sister Edie and family, and the special relationship she had with Gordon’s brother and family. She enjoyed picking cherries, projects at the cabin and cleaning it to a shine. She taught her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren the love of family, and the value of optimism, energy, and generosity. Ina was sweet, kind, caring, and selfless. She greeted family, friends and strangers equally with her beautiful smile. She was so proud of the family she created and loved her family, loved being “GG” Great Grandma, loved serving homemade cookies and family meals. Ina’s family will miss so many wonderful things about her, but especially her smile, humor, cookies, and the love always present in those bright blue eyes.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Gordon; father, Eric; mother, Clara; and sister, Edie. She is survived by son John Swanson; daughter, Linnea Kahler (Roger); daughter, Cheryl Galipeau (fiancé Rick Lucas) all of Missoula; granddaughters, Stacey Richards (Blake) of Missoula, Rebecca Austin (Ryan) of Shelby, MT, Lindsey Keeley (Kevin) and Amy Galipeau, of Missoula; and great grandchildren, Kayler Austin, Ali Austin, Colt Austin, Beau Richards, Brock Richards, Evren Keeley; and sister-in-law Jean Swanson of Arizona.
A celebration of her life will be held July 25, 2022 at 11:00 am at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 830 South Ave W, in Missoula. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent in Ina’s name to Immanuel Lutheran Church, in support of Veteran’s organization, or community donation of your choice.