College mourns professor

South Puget Sound Community College has recently experienced the loss of a dear professor, Lynda Swanson. The college was informed that Swanson had unexpectedly passed from a stroke at her home on Jan. 2. Having taught at the college for nearly 21 years, Swanson created an impact, touching the lives of students and faculty alike.
Swanson taught Developmental English and Reading. She was able to touch students’ lives with her teaching and love of literature. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for her class was always contagious. And during the holidays, her chocolates were always free with a smile.

She was the perfect example of an English professor: someone who loves literature, poetry, art, and music. Every person interviewed described her as a generous, kind, and thoughtful woman. She had an amazing sense of humor and an exceptional capacity for helping and caring for others.

Kathleen Byrd, professor and close friend, remembers co-teaching with Swanson: “She brought this understanding of the Jazz Age and jazz music [in reference to The Great Gatsby] that I had never really thought about in connection to the literature of that time … she really enriched my understanding.”

The two teachers shared a love of poetry. Swanson had memorized and could recite many poems by heart. They both would share their own poetry with each other. She “really had a gift for writing,” said Byrd.

Byrd and Swanson would see movies together. Oftentimes, Byrd looked forward to their discussion afterward because of Swanson’s insight on the different perspectives in the film.

“She was perceptive, insightful, and funny,” said Byrd.

“She was one of those people that found so much joy in seeing other people shine and succeed; whether that was her friends, her daughter, or her students. I think that is what made her a gifted teacher,” said Byrd.

Kay Cooper, adjunct professor and close friend, described Swanson as “always [going] above and beyond” by helping others. She would arrive at 7 a.m. and not leave until 5:30 p.m. each day, “[dropping] everything to stop and help somebody else,” while staying late to finish her own work, said Cooper.

Swanson was known as generous; she frequently went thrift store shopping, finding deals and buying them for her colleagues. “She loved jazz, chocolate, scarves, and poetry,” said Corrie Martin, fellow professor and friend.

“A place like this strives to be a community and we don’t always pull it off. Lynda always pulled it off. It always felt like a community with her,” said Patrick Taggesell, adjunct professor and friend.

Outgoing President Gerald Pumphrey said, “It would be hard to count the number of people for whom she helped open the doors to a better life. In a real sense, Lynda Swanson was a genuine embodiment of what community colleges are supposed to be about.”

Swanson’s impact on the campus will continue on through the lives she touched.

Swanson’s husband, Bill Swanson, passed in August 2007 due to cancer. A tree is planted on campus in remembrance of him. Now his wife, Lynda, will also be remembered. There was be a memorial service last week for the campus community in honor of Lynda.