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Leonard Joel Swanson

February 17, 1936 ~ May 30, 2020 (age 84)

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L. Joel Swanson was reunited with the love of his life Shirley, after passing away peacefully at home on May 30, 2020. He was 84. 

Joel was born on February, 17 1936 in Fargo, North Dakota to Leonard Oscar and Alma Cecelia Swanson. The family lived in Hillsboro, ND for three years until they moved to Mayville, ND where Joel was raised. Joel often reminisced about Mayville, how it provided an idyllic childhood during simpler times. Joel was the youngest in the family with three older sisters - Lorraine, Verna and Betty Ann - who doted on him. Joel graduated from the University of North Dakota and married Shirley Annette Braaten, his high school sweetheart. He went on to dental school at Northwestern University. After graduating in 1962, Joel served 2 years as First Lieutenant in the Army. He was stationed at Fort Ord, CA and assigned to the post dental section. It was there Joel and Shirley grew to love the Monterey Bay area, later making it their home with Joel practicing as a Dentist in nearby Salinas. Aside from being known as Dr. Swanson or "Doc" in Salinas, Joel often responded around the community to "Coach!" He was passionate about sports and passed that love onto his children, coaching each of them individually as well as being the coach of their many teams -- baseball being an all time favorite.

Upon retirement, Joel and Shirley moved to Rio Verde, Arizona where Joel was an avid tennis player and lifelong golfer. He loved to laugh, tell stories, and garden. He enjoyed music immensely, from country to classical. He especially loved spending time with family and friends. While living in Rio Verde, he could often be spotted on his patio as he waved and talked with passersby. Above all else, Joel was the much loved father of Mary Beth (Eric) Dybevik, Joel Swanson and Paul (Angela) Swanson. He was the very, VERY proud grandpa of nine grandchildren: Nathaniel, Anna, Britta, Annika, Caitlyn, Ryan, Morgan, Crista and Hayley. He will be greatly missed.

Due to Covid 19, a Memorial Service at Community Church of the Verdes will be postponed to a time when Joel’s family and friends can safely gather.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that memorial gifts can be made to VerdeCares Inc., 18934 E. Avenida Del Ray, Suite 106, Rio Verde, AZ 85263. More information can be found at

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