There are those among us who seem invincible. Enduring. Timeless.
For the Denfeld community, that figure was Dick “Swan” Swanson.
It could have been the consistency of his wardrobe — tennis shoes, khaki shorts, pullover, hat — whether 60 above or 40 below.
Maybe it was the glasses. He once assured us that he really did get new ones from time to time, he just kept the same style.
Or perhaps the 65 sports seasons he coached: you got older, moved away, came back, and he had it all in order just as it was when you left it.
Maybe it was his signs from the third-base coach’s box: those certainly never changed. Belt for bunt, sleeve for steal, a touch of the hat to indicate.
Perhaps it was the predictability of his reaction after a called third strike: pull off hat, scratch head, saunter toward left field.
Or does it go back to his commitment to deliver on candy availability? If you wanted a root beer barrel between classes, you could find them in his classroom, Room 330, left side of desk, two drawers down.
I suppose it could have been the unchanging tone in his voice. The News Tribune’s Rick Weegman alluded to it in his article on April 30 when quoting Swan’s stance on coaching for so many years: “‘Keep doing it until you do it right,’ deadpanned Swanson.”
Maybe we thought he was immortal because even when he faced a battle with cancer, we could still find him on the Grand View fairway, jawing with longtime friends Tim Utt and Tom Bang.
I am sure all of the above contributed.
But true timelessness — the kind Swan has left us with — comes from giving back to his community with such thought and care, for so many years, that we can’t even imagine the former Wade 6 & 7, now rightfully Swanson Fields, without him there.
To a timeless legend, may you rest in peace.
Laura Bellamy is the associate head coach of the Minnesota Duluth women’s hockey team and 2009 graduate of Denfeld High School. In addition to serving as the Duluth Northern Stars goaltender for six seasons, she was a five-year starter for the Hunters on the softball diamond and ace of Swanson’s pitching staff.