- About Us
Greta Jane Swanson was born on November 4th 1931, the only child of Herbert and Susie Swanson, in Hamilton MT. Greta was cherished and adored by her parents who included her in every aspect of their lives, from helping her dad on his freight line to tending the large family garden together. As a family, Bird hunting and fishing were favorite activities, but before you can fish you must have bait. So, as her father drove down the country road, Greta would sit on the front of his old model T ford holding on with one hand while the other held a net over the borrow pit, scooping up grasshoppers.
When she wasn’t using her free time to fish with her parents, Greta’s imagination took her to the Wild West; where, as a child, Greta pined to be a cowboy. Many Saturdays were spent at the movies, with friends, clad in her cowboy clothes watching the westerns…Roy Rodgers being her favorite cowboy hero.
Greta was raised and educated in Chateau, Montana, graduating in 1949. Greta was always a well behaved, good student who participated in drama and the “rainbow girls”; an organization associated with the Masons of which her father was a long time member. After high school, she entered the Montana State nursing program, graduating in 1953; (GO Bobcats). Following college, Greta and her best friend, Fritzi, entered Anesthesia school in Portland, Oregon where she enjoyed the freedom of single life and friends. Greta’s first job as a nurse anesthetist was in Butte, followed by a position in Missoula. The move to Missoula brought her closer to home and proved to be an unexpected turning point in her life.
While living in Missoula, Greta answered a knock on her door and found a handsome, blue eyed vacuum salesman standing on her door step, the rest is history. After a short courtship, Greta and Arlo were married on a beautiful Indian summer day on October 1st 1958, in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho.
After Several moves between Hamilton and Missoula, they finally settled in Hamilton, in 1964, where they remained to live, work and raise their three daughters: Tamara, Brenda and Marci. Greta worked at Marcus Daly Memorial hospital as a nurse anesthetist; a position she held until she retired in 1991. For many years, Greta was on call 24/7, because Greta was the Anesthesia Department. As the hospital grew and staff was added, she was promoted to department head. During those very busy working years, Greta was held in the highest esteem by Doctor’s and co-workers alike for her professionalism, nursing skills, pleasant demeanor and kindness to others. As a sweet side story, Greta was known as the “anesthesia fairy” because whenever children came in for surgery they would awake to find two quarters taped to the palm of their hand.
In spite of her demanding job, Greta was also busy raising her daughters and was a phenomenal mother; for which her daughters will be forever grateful. Each day brought the opportunity to care for, work with and teach her children. Her daughters were the most important aspect of her life and she devoted herself to them in many tender and thoughtful ways such as: home cooked meals each night; weekly batches of homemade bread; hand sewn clothes and knitted sweaters; and lessons taught by practiced hands in cooking, canning and needle crafts.
Greta also loved to shop. Three times each year (Easter, Christmas, and the start of school) she would take her girls to Missoula for a day of shopping and lunch. At the end of the busy shopping day, Greta often made time to visit an elderly aunt and uncle. The practice of watching over and visiting the elderly, whether family or friends, was yet another lesson taught to her daughters through example and practice. The warmth of those happy days spent together has always been a treasured memory for Greta’s daughters.
Greta was also an avid and talented knitter. Once she retired from nursing, she transitioned her love for knitting into a way to pass the time and help Tamara at the Yarn Center. The hours spent surrounded by and thinking of yarn was a dream come true for Greta. As friends and fellow knitters came together to socialize, knit, gossip and, of course, drink coke (Greta’s beverage of choice) she was in her element. Late in life while reminiscing on years passed, Greta characterized those wonderful days as “the most perfect time in our lives”.
Years of hard work and sacrifice took their toll and as time waxed, Greta’s health declined and, in time, she was unable to participate in the activities that had brought her so much joy. The loss of socializing with friends, knitting, reading and of course shopping for her beloved Christmas snow village was difficult. After an arduous month in May 2015, Greta was placed in home hospice where she was lovingly cared for by her daughters, with most of the effort falling upon Tamara, and remained in home care until the end of her life.
Greta, wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, passed away in her home from natural causes, surrounded by the love of her family, on October 5, 2018. She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband of 53 years (Arlo) and her cousin Dale Burgdorfer. Those left to mourn her passing: Her daughters and their families TAMARA, BRENDA and Fred Keilbart (Jacob and Jen, Kimberly, Trevor and Samantha), and MARCI and Perry Oaks (Branden, Brittany and Taylor Jacobberger, Jessica and Jared). Greta is also survived by 6 great-grandchildren: Madison, Jaden, Ashton and Breckin Keilbart and Benzley and Jett Jacobberger.
The family wishes to thank special friends: Diana Jones, Connie Sheahan, Betty Bedey, Jennifer Ray, Rosa Audrey, and Vickie (from hospice).
Memorials may be made to Camp Make a Wish Foundation or Smile Train.
Services will be held Friday, October 12, 2018 at the LDS church in Hamilton. The viewing will be at 1:00 pm with the service following directly after at 2:00 pm. Interment will be at River View cemetery at which time a nursing honor guard ceremony will be performed at the graveside.
Greta’s family wishes to express their profound love and deep appreciation for their dear mother, both for the love she continually demonstrated and the manner in which she lived her life. We will love you forever Mama.