Ruth G. Sween, 93

Published 4:22 pm Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ruth Sween

Ruth Genevieve Sween, 93, died of natural causes on Sept. 10, 2011, at the Augustana Regent in Burnsville, completing a full life enriched by family, friends, students and academic achievement.

“Ruthie” was born Jan. 14, 1918, to Burtine and Carl Lind in Warwick, N.D., the youngest of four children. Upon the untimely death of her father, a farmer, when she was just 3, she and her family moved into the local telephone office where her mother was employed. The economic challenges of that period in North Dakota were extraordinary, due to the Great Depression coinciding with the devastating Dust Bowl. In spite of that daunting circumstance, Ruth graduated from high school in Warwick, and received her bachelor’s degree in education and English from the Mayville (ND) State Teacher’s College. She was an excellent student, but also an accomplished athlete, competing in women’s basketball, softball and tennis.

Following her first teaching job in Lancaster, Minn., Ruth accepted an opportunity in Grand Meadow where she met Raymond Sween. They married Aug. 4, 1942. World War II separated them temporarily when Raymond served in the Army’s First Cavalry Infantry Division for 30 months of fierce, uninterrupted duty in the South Pacific. Upon his return to Grand Meadow, they began their family of five children, starting with twin boys born in 1947.

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Ruth interrupted her career for about 15 years to raise her children, but her passion for education and academic achievement called her back. In the early 1960s, she began part-time, post-graduate studies at Mankato State College, commuting 100 miles to attend night classes and summer school, eventually receiving her master’s degree in business education. Following two interim high school positions at Rushford and Rose Creek, in 1965-66 she initiated a Business Secretarial re-entry training program through the Austin Vocational School. For her success there, she was offered the opportunity to join the faculty at Rochester Community College (RCC), where she taught for 16 years until her retirement. While at RCC, she assumed leadership for the Medical Secretarial training program, and many of her students proudly became secretaries for prominent physicians at the Mayo Clinic.

Anchored in her Christian faith, Ruth was a long-term member of the Grand Meadow Lutheran Church, where she was active in Sarah Circle. Upon her relocation to Apple Valley and then Burnsville, she worshipped at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

Her hobbies included bridge, video poker, cooking and following her children and grandchildren’s sporting events.

Ruthie was preceded in death by her parents; three siblings, Raymond, husband of 55 years.

She is survived by four sons, Mark of Park Rapids, Paul (Susan) of Austin, Greg (Anne) of Emmetsburg, Iowa, and Steven (Barbara) of Atlanta, Ga., and one daughter, Mari-Kay Dornack (Duane) of Prior Lake. She was also a loving grandmother to seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Memorials are preferred to Augustana Regent at Burnsville,, or the Saint Jude Hospice Fund. Services will be 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11, at the Grand Meadow Lutheran Church in Grand Meadow, Minn., with Rev. Ann Siverling officiating. Burial will be in the Grand Meadow Cemetery. Visitation will be from 1 p.m. until time of service at the church. Condolences may be left at