Richard Eugene Swanson
February 1, 1928 – June 15, 2018
SWANSON, Richard E. of South Wellfleet, formerly of Lincoln, MA, lived a vibrant multifaceted life as a soldier, chemist, educator, artist and dedicated Lincoln scholar and presenter. He proudly served in the US Army during WWII and was stationed in Korea during the prelude to the Korean conflict.
After earning his BS and MBA at Northeastern University, he was employed as a chemist at A.C.L. Lawrence Leather Company, then moved on to the position of Plant Chemical Engineer at Proctor and Gamble. Later on, he joined the Mathematics Faculty at Wentworth Institute as an instructor and soon thereafter was prompted to the position of Master Instructor. After earning a D.Ed. degree from Boston University, Dr. Swanson joined the Mathematical Sciences Department of Bentley College where he taught for 25 years, attaining the rank of Full Professor and upon his retirement was honored with an appointment to Professor Emeritus.
All the while, he invested three decades researching Abraham Lincoln. This project has produced a personal library of over 1,000 volumes and numerous memorabilia. He has also written and illustrated a book on Lincoln. It was only natural that his scholarship, enhanced by his Lincolnesque stature would lead him to acting and finally to creating theatrical pieces about America’s sixteenth president. Dr. Swanson was cast in the role of A. Lincoln in the PBS movie Reconstruction: the Second Civil War and he authored That Reminds Me of a Story: The Life of A. Lincoln.
As an artist, his work was featured in several exhibitions of pen and ink drawings and watercolors, some with a Lincoln theme. He also authored a memoir of his military experiences, entitled Between Two Wars: The Life of a Teenage Soldier in Korea.
Richard is survived by his grandson Richie Miller and his son-in-law Edward Miller of Melbourne, Florida. Both his dear daughters Faith and Nancy L. Swanson, and his beloved wife of 33 years, predeceased him.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the ALP (Abraham Lincoln Presenters) or the Animal Rescue League of Boston. Visitation will be held on Friday, June 22, 2018 at Nickerson Funeral Home, 340 Main Street, Wellfleet, MA from 10 AM to 11 AM, with a service at the funeral home at 11 AM. Following the service, interment will take place at Pleasant Hill Cemetery in Wellfleet. A lunch reception will follow.
- Visitation Friday, June 22, 2018
- Funeral Service Friday, June 22, 2018
- Graveside Service Friday, June 22, 2018
Richard Eugene Swanson
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June 23, 2018
Richard chose my family, gave us love unconditionally, and shared the treasure of his interests with us. He was like a father to me, to David, and like a grandfather to Zachary, Raymond and Walter. Through the past nearly 30 years, David built the Wellfleet home he and Nancy retired to; she attended me in the delivery of two of the boys; they hosted our rowdy little family to numerous holidays, and, of course, Richard taught the boys to play chess. He attended many of their elementary school and sports functions in Wellfleet. Richard brought Ray to play chess in tournaments, one where he won $500 when he was a little kid -- and Richard joyfully framed Ray's Bentley acceptance letter years later. He generously appeared at Wellfleet Elementary as President Lincoln for Zach's show and share. Those many little gestures of his kindness and interest were both gifts and lessons. Trying to speak at the service I wanted to demonstrate this, perhaps inelegantly, with the recollection of how Walter walked out of the Parkington's home where he was stranded in a blizzard a few years ago, to go shovel out Richard's walkways, haul in the firewood, get the wood-stove going, and play a doomed game of chess with him which he was certain to lose! This was the essence of Richard, returned to Richard. So his spirit will not be missed, just transferred through the many hearts of those lucky enough to have known him. Because to have been chosen by Richard meant to be loved, and given the grace of his time. Goodbye Richard, and thank you for every moment.
June 22, 2018
Mr. Swanson a/k/a "Lincoln" (as we called him) was our neighbor for the past 6 years. During this time we got to know him and really appreciated what a special, interesting, kind, talented, and thoughtful person he was. His voice commanded attention and his laugh we will never forget. The last time I spoke to him was during the bad storm we had in March. I was calling to check on him to see if he had enough food, wood and to offer him a generator. He promptly told me no he was fine but he would really like a lobster roll from Mac's Seafood. I laughed and of course brought him his lobster roll. He was teaching my son how to play chess and we have some very special memories that will last a lifetime. The world has lost an unbelievable man that we feel so very blessed to have known.
"In very truth he was, the noblest work of God -- an honest man."
Abraham Lincoln--February 8, 1842
June 22, 2018
It was only three times near the end of his life that I met him. The first was with Judith Partelow, his drama coach for thirty years, and as Richard, from memory, was reciting speeches, stories, and memories, I was sitting there astonished by his delivery, presence, memory, posture, body language, and composure. His presentation was mind-blowing, truly remarkable. Even Judith, who had a few comment here and there, was in awe of his ability. During our winter, which happened in March this year, twice I picked up dinner (pizza and onion rings) and brought them to him. My regret is that I didn't know him longer. R.I.P. dear Richard/Lincoln.
June 20, 2018
My condolence and best wishes to Dick's family and friends.
I remember Dick Swanson from Wentworth Institute when we were colleagues and friends in the Math Department there. He was a tall, gentle fellow - always friendly and always helpful. I am impressed that he had such a productive career.
June 19, 2018
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June 18, 2018
I had the distinct privilege of coaching dear Richard Swanson, in his characterization of Abraham Lincoln, for over thirty years. We became close friends and shared so much laughter and joy. In the last couple of classes that we had together, he invited me to help proofread his memoir, which I pray will see publication as it is interesting and unique. I've been so impressed over these many years with the sharp memory he retained for voluminous amounts of information about and speeches given by Lincoln. I never ceased to be amazed at Richard's intelligence, his dedication to preserving the memory of Abraham Lincoln, his artistry in hundreds of illustrations and watercolors, his tirelessness in pursuing creative pursuits and never ending enthusiasm for studying and bringing to light every tidbit of information he could verify as truth about Lincoln. He delighted in sharing his knowledge, and over the years traveled to countless venues in his personification of Lincoln to delight and inform people of all ages. Right up until the recent past couple of months, he anticipated inviting friends to come and hear his performances about Lincoln's days in the White House, his family, his political career, his courtships, his letters to his generals, the Civil War, etc. I was most privileged to witness this dedicated man's intense admiration of Abraham Lincoln. I don't believe there could be a more ardent follower or more knowledgeable student of the life and works of Abraham Lincoln. Of all Richard Swanson's accomplishments, this was his crowning jewel. I am so sad to lose from my life this sweet friend.