Barbara Jean Swenson, or “Barcie” to those who knew and loved her, passed away suddenly on June 25 after a long and interesting life. She was born in Cardston, Alberta on Jan 13, 1930 to Oscar and Thelma Thronson of Babb, MT, founders and owners of Thronson’s General Store. She grew up in Babb on the Blackfeet reservation with her older brother Harvey and sister Helen, riding her favorite horse Mexi on the edge of Glacier Park. Oh, the adventures she had there as a young cowgirl on the outskirts of civilization!
She and her siblings attended school in Choteau, MT, where in high school she met and married handsome Dean Swenson. The two settled down in Choteau for a few years, starting a family with three children: daughters Dee Ann and Jerri and son Chuck. Barcie was a blond who had two redheaded daughters, so for years she dyed her hair red and was known as “Rusty”. She was Girl Scout Leader for the girls’ troop, and was famous for her amazing “Barbie Doll” birthday cakes, and her delicious lemon meringue pies.
The travel bug then bit Dean and Barcie in 1963, and unique job opportunities led the family on a series of moves – first to Missouri, then Texas, then North Dakota, (where Barcie worked for the Bismarck Tribune), then on to several years in Hawaii, and ultimately to the small remote island of Kwajalein in the Pacific Ocean. They eventually returned to Choteau in 1970, circumstances eventually led Barcie to move back to Babb, where she ran the restaurant year-round for many years. She later moved to Kalispell, where she worked for Herbergers, then to Helena for a while, before moving back to Choteau permanently in 2000. She moved into the Skyline Lodge in 2017, where she enjoyed spending time with friends, both new ones as well as ones she had known since childhood. From her window on the top floor she never tired of watching the deer and fawns frolicking on the lawn below.
Tough and resilient, always positive, never complaining, resourceful, clever, funny, wise, stern when needed, loving, she was a perfect role model for her children and the generations that followed. She was the epitome of the strong Montana woman, and embodied the pioneer spirit. She loved much and was much loved, and will be deeply missed by all who knew her.
She is survived by her three children, Dee Ann Kipp of Browning, Jerri Swenson of Kalispell, and Chuck Swenson of Bozeman, as well as 9 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, June 29, at 1pm at Frontier Funeral Home in Choteau.