‘Our Father the Farmer’
According to his wife, Melissa, Chuck Swanson will forever be known for his smile. He was always friendly and willing to help anybody and everybody, and that was probably why friends and neighbors turned out in droves to help the Swanson family with the harvest on Tuesday.
“There are 10 combines, 12 grain carts and 22 semis out in our cornfields right now,” Melissa Swanson said Tuesday afternoon. “At this rate, they will be done by 5 p.m., doing over 600 acres in one day. ADM shut down all but one (receiving) bay, and that is marked for ‘Chuck Swanson corn.'”
The reason for this huge operation was because Chuck Swanson died unexpectedly May 9 of unknown causes. The Swanson farmland is west of Lynd.
“He promised to spend Mother’s Day with us,” Melissa Swanson said. “He finished planting in time to spend Sunday with us. I remember him playing in the grass with the girls. We had our usual evening walk that night and went to bed. The next morning, he never woke up.”
“There were 450 people at the wake,” Melissa Swanson said. She couldn’t remember how many were at the funeral at First English Lutheran Church in Tyler because that day is a blur.
Women from the community kept bringing over food, especially on the day the corn was harvested.
“We live in an absolutely amazing community. All these people were fed, and I didn’t have a thing to do with it,” Melissa said. “There’s no limit to the good things I can say about it.”
There were so many people to be thanked, beginning with Scott and Deb Thooft who managed the harvest event.
“They’re a huge part of our lives,” Melissa Swanson said. “Scott said he hasn’t had to ask anybody; they all came to him offering to help. I only wish Chuck was here to witness it.”
There were all the combine, grain cart and semi-truck
drivers, including a husband and wife team, and there were service trucks on site in case of a break down. There are all the women who fed 75 people that night after the harvest.
And, there was Chuck’s best friend, Billy Maertens from Ghent, who used the metal fabricating skills he and Chuck shared to make thank-you gifts for the harvesters.
“Chuck was an amazing engineer,” Melissa Swanson said. “He built everything on the farm just to keep it neat and organized. He loved working with metal.”
Melissa Swanson said that everyone in the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton School District had been very supportive, too.
The Swansons’ four daughters, Casey, 13, Camry, 11, Arlee, 6, and Avery, 5, all attend RTR Schools. The school had started selling T-shirts with a poem on the back that Melissa and Casey had written, which goes like this:
Our Father the Farmer
Whose lullaby is the sound of grain dryers.
Who uses electrical tape for band aide.
Whose faith is the only thing stronger than his John Deere.
Whose smile is what everyone remembers.
Who works until midnight only to be up again at dawn.
Who upholds generations of farming
and shows his girls the value of hard work and discipline.
Whose love lives on forever.
Charles “Chuck” Swanson
Proceeds from the shirt sales go into an ag scholarship fund, which Melissa Swanson was proud to explain.
“I think all these people should be thanked,” Melissa Swanson said. “I want everyone to know that there are good people left in this world.”
“I’d like to thank my family, too,” she added. “Although they’re the people who support me the most, they’re hurting, too.”
This event was so widely heard of that even a reporter from KELO-TV from Sioux Falls was out to capture the event.
Melissa Swanson said she had been a nurse for the first 14 years of their marriage, then she had helped Chuck with the farming for four years, running the combine for him. Now, she just wants to spend as much time as she can with her girls. To that end, Melissa Swanson has rented out their 1,400 acres of farm land and will focus on raising her daughters.
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