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Legacies | MNA

Remembering Professor George W. Swenson Jr.

George W. Swenson Jr. with his granddaughter Madeleine © Jud Swenson

In 1992 George W. Swenson Jr. (1922–2017), and his wife Janice of Champaign, Illinois, donated 80 acres of land in the Keweenaw Peninsula that became part of Gratiot Lake Overlook Nature Sanctuary. The Swensons made this gift to preserve the natural beauty of the area and to encourage others to do so.

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Dr. Swenson moved to Houghton, Michigan as a baby when his father, also Professor George W. Swenson, became the founding Chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department at Michigan Technological University in 1928. George W. Swenson Jr. received his Bachelors of Science degree from MTU in 1944, finishing by correspondence while serving on active duty in the U.S. Army. He received his Masters degree in electrical engineering from MIT in 1947, and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin in 1949. He then taught Electrical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and Michigan State University before beginning an extremely prolific 60 year career at the University of Illinois. In the late 1950s, Dr. Swenson designed and built the largest and most productive radio telescope of its kind–the VRO (Vermillion River Observatory)–which propelled the University of Illinois to the forefront of Radio Astronomy research. From 1964–1968, Dr. Swenson chaired the design committee for the VLA (Very Large Array) and sited the instrument flying a small plane around the desert near Socorro, New Mexico. This is the iconic radio telescope we see pictured on television and in the movie Contact. Professor Swenson enjoyed the great outdoors and was an avid hiker, woodsman, and birder. He was also a canoeist circumnavigating Isle Royale and nearly completing a full trip around the Keweenaw Peninsula. He also started a family camp in the Keweenaw Peninsula in 1962 that is still in use today. We honor his memory.

Memorials and Honoraria December 1, 2016 - March 31, 2017

Donations given in honor or memory of MNA members and friends appear here in tribute. To learn how you can honor a loved one, call (866) 223-2231 or visit

In Memory of: Maureen Berlucchi Shirley Bourasaw David Catellier Nicole Clouse Dennis Egnater Marsha Holloway Gertrude Juhasz Mira Lewis Sally Romanowski Gertrude Rosen Marilyn Silver Steven Sloan Stanford Stoddard Gerald Waechter by Dr. Lewis Rosenbaum David Carleton 34

michigan nature | spring 2017

Helen Rice Don Vandermolen by Anonymous Robert and Viola Brown by Erik Brown by Ellen Regal Michael Hitchiner by Rachael Cobb by Allen and Alisa Dodson by Martha Hitchiner by Donald Levitt by William Pflager by Mark and Rosemary Pinsky by Andy Tenka and Ping P. Kho by Christian and Clare Winkel

by Gordon Witte Marcus Ng by Yu Man Lee and Jon Noyes Dimo Georgieva by Elena Georgieva James H. Metting by Barbara Metting David Overlander by Manfred and Judith Schmidt Maynard and Marie Remer by Bill and Donna Remer Forbes and Ruth Sibley by David and Alice Lewandowski Carolyn Williams Metting by Barbara Metting

Sharon Zahrfeld by Ted Zahrfeld

In Honor of: Stephen Kelley by Barbara Kelley by Brian and Anita Kelley by Susan Kelley Stephanie and Jeff Taras by Daniel Rose Jim Tercha by Bill and Nancy Leonard Sara Watkins by Katie Joyner

Michigan Nature Magazine - Spring 2017  

Spring 2017 issue of Michigan Nature magazine

Michigan Nature Magazine - Spring 2017  

Spring 2017 issue of Michigan Nature magazine