Berdine Swanson, 49

May 13, 2024
Berdine Swanson, 49 Berdine Swanson, 49

Berdine Swanson, age 49, of Lake Bronson, MN, passed away at her home on Friday, May 3, 2024. She is fondly remembered for her generous heart, welcoming nature, and her witty sense of humor which usually included some amazing one-liners.

Berdine was born on January 25, 1975, in Hallock, MN, to Noelle (Rundquist) and Richard Swanson of Lake Bronson, MN. One of Berdine’s most memorable moments as a child was when she was in elementary school and her parents took her and her sister, Amanda, to their first concert, which happened to be outdoors, where they saw Willie Nelson. Berdine often spoke of this day when she recalled her childhood, and it was probably the beginning of her life-long love of music, and just perhaps, her love of everything hippy.

Berdine graduated high school in 1993 and her classmates recall evenings of endless laughter while spending time together their senior year. After graduation, Berdine attended Moorhead State University, where she studied Anthropology and Mass Communications. During her time in college, she worked at M&H and Pistol Pete’s. As was Berdine’s nature, she made many friends while in college. She and her roommates had so much fun their first summer living together off campus that Berdine wrote a funny poem titled “Ode to the Summer of 1995,” detailing their many antics and good times. It was also that year Berdine’s sister, Amanda, began college in Moorhead and they quickly became best friends, and later roommates. Berdine continued to expand her love of music, spending weekends at First Avenue and Kirby’s dancing the night away in her long dresses and “twiddly” skirts and meeting many of the great people that became her lifelong friends.

In 2003, Berdine moved to Minneapolis, and she and Amanda became roommates again in a duplex in Uptown. She got a bartending job at Mortimers where she was well-known and well-liked by all her daytime regulars. Her weekends were still filled with live music - going to the Caboose, The Fine Line, and other venues - that hosted the hippy shows. She loved summertime when she could go to Harmony Park and see a festival or two with all her favorite bands. Over the years, she made many friends with people she met along the way and some of the musicians that sang her favorite songs. Friends liked spending time with her - dancing, laughing or just hanging out.

In 2010, Berdine moved back Lake Bronson to be closer to her family. She quickly picked up her bartending career and worked at Jon’s and the Liq, but she ultimately ended up finding her place working at The Maverick from 2011 and on. Berdine treated everyone who entered like they were an old friend, and everyone was welcome (if you behaved) when Berdine was behind the bar.

Life back in Kittson County was different from city life, but Berdine still found lots of fun to be had. Again, she made new friendships and had many good times filled with laughter. “Let’s go to the Mav and see Berds” became a common phrase among the people that had spent time with her when she was behind the bar. In her work bag, she carried a county atlas and the weekly copy of the Enterprise, so she was able to keep up with all the talk from around the county she heard at work. It was also during this time, she met the love of her life, Vern Walseth, who treated her like a queen and made her so happy.

Berdine was a historian, a collector of memorabilia, a sentimental soul. She kept any item that had a past or a story to tell from her life, and she treasured these things, decorating her home with memories. Her family often told her to throw these things away, but Berdine knew that they were special, and you certainly couldn’t tell her what to do, so she kept them anyway. She loved books, tapestries, beads, glass art and anything else that was colorful, artsy, and vintage. Her love for music could also be seen in her home, with concert posters and ticket stubs proudly collected from her favorite shows over the years. Auntie B also loved her little nieces. You could find their pictures in every room, the cards they made her for her birthday proudly displayed on her dresser and the bracelets they made her on the top of her jewelry dish.

Berdine had a heart of gold. She would give you the shirt off her back and loved you even if you didn’t deserve it. She also didn’t care much about fitting in – she wore what she wanted and did what she liked, regardless of what anyone else thought of it. She was her own person, and people admired that about her. She touched so many people in her life with her unique personality.

Berdine had recently discovered a new zest in living, and you could see it in the true smile on her face. She was enjoying the simpler things in life – catching up with old friends, spending time with family, spoiling her little nieces, and of course, seeing live music. She also discovered a love for online shopping, where she could find uncommon items to fit her eccentric personality like the Christmas sweater she wore this year with her cats’ faces and names on it. Berdine loved her cats, Bobby and Miss Itchy, and they were like children to her. She recently bought a collector’s edition road atlas and was planning new adventures to hear some music and see some friends. Life truly comes full circle, as Berdine and Amanda had tickets to see Willie Nelson in Moorhead for the second year in a row at the end of May. The “Swanson Sisters” were excited to get “On the Road Again” and see another show. But to our great sorrow, Berdine left us with plans unfulfilled, roads untraveled and songs unsung.

In our grief, I know Berdine would want us to “remember not just that she died, but that she lived. And that her life gave us memories too beautiful to forget.” So, whenever you see a double rainbow, a rare bird or hear a good Willie song, think of Berdine, dancing to the beat of her own drum in her hippy dress with that beautiful, free smile on her face.

Berdine is survived by her mom, Noelle Swanson (Jaydean Stamnes); sister, Amanda (Jeff) Rickenberg; nieces, Addie, Ella, and Ivi Rickenberg; uncles, Neil (Sue) Rundquist and Deland Swanson; cousins, Nathan (Alexa) Rundquist, and Kaylee (Jason) Breidenbach; and all her friends whom she considered family.

She was proceeded in death by her father, Richard Swanson, grandparents, Palmer and Vivian Rundquist and Maynard and Violet Swanson, and by the love of her life, Vern Walseth.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, May 17 at 11:00 a.m. at Zion Lutheran Church in Lake Bronson. A visitation will be held at the church for an hour before the service.

The service will be live streamed through Maria Lutheran Church’s Facebook page. Donations in Berdine’s memory can be sent to Perry’s Paws or the Pennington County Humane Society.

Austin Funeral Chapel