The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

John Randolph Swanson


January 8, 2020

John Randolph Swanson passed away on Dec. 23, 2019, while at Forest Ridge Health and Rehab Center in Kitsap County, Bremerton, Washington.

Randy was born in Bellingham on May 6, 1956, to Carl Joseph Pirscher and Sandra L. Peterson. He had a rough childhood and was raised by his Nana (Mona B. Peterson) and Pa (Danial Clark Peterson), whom he loved and respected. He inherited their sense of humor, and that humor carried him through many a rough patch.

He went to Schools in both Burlington and Sedro Woolley Washington. While there he received two letters, one for football and one for wrestling at 135 pounds soaking wet. He also developed a love of music while there. He was in a band and played 12-string guitar. They played many of the local venues in Sedro Woolley. He traveled to competitions in choir where he had several solos. His nickname was "The Knee Squeezer." It was not unusual at all for Randy to go to three class reunions a year. He was very social and never forgot a name or friend.

Randy graduated from Sedro Woolley High School in 1974. His education included three Electrical Licenses and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Washington.

Randy joined the Army in June of 1974, was trained as a Medic, and was stationed with the 8th Infantry Division in Baumholder, Germany. Upon entering the Army, he had his last name legally changed from Pirscher to Swanson after his stepfather. Randy received many awards while being in the Army and was tapped to lead his squad. He was selected to go to French Commando School, where, while jumping out of a plane in the dark, he landed on a fence post and needed surgery on his right knee. This accident made him a disabled vet and defined his love of service. He was released from active duty in June of 1977 and continued in the Reserves until 1980.

Once honorably discharged, he met and married Karin Ann Swanson. She had a daughter, Chantel who he raised as his own. They then had a son Brent. They moved to Port Orchard, Washington, where Randy worked at the PSNS and was a Reserve Police Officer for four years and a Reserve Sherriff for two years. He still found time to coach his son's baseball team, coach wrestling, and finish his education. They were married for 15 years.

His first job as a teen was milking cows, lots of cows. Then he went on to work at the local gas station in town while in high school. After gaining his Electrical Licenses, he worked for the Department of Energy as an electrician. Once he finished his Mechanical Engineering Degree, he transferred to Bonneville Power as an Engineering Tech. He stayed with the Department of Energy for 31 years before retiring as an Inspector. He was responsible for, climbed, and slid along the giant electrical towers that are a part of our power grid. He loved his job and the people he worked with. After his first stroke in 2007, Bonneville Power made special arrangements for Randy to stay until he could fully retire. Kudos to Bonneville.

Randy was an avid fisherman and hunter. He enjoyed going to Alaska for halibut fishing and rarely came back empty handed when hunting deer. He was also a great fan of wrestling. He was selected to go to the Olympics as support staff for the USA Wrestling Team. Randy rarely missed the High School Wrestling Tournament at the Tacoma Dome with his friend Ken Davis.

While working along the Columbia River in The Dalles, Randy met and married Katherine Marlowe in March of 2011. They settled in Goldendale on a ranch where they raised chickens, pigs, and goats, and had a few horses. They took time to travel extensively. Randy fell in love with Goldendale. Once he retired, he started volunteering at Klickitat Valley Health and eating breakfast at Sodbusters. He always had a smile on his face and a hand shake ready. They were together 10 years.

Randy is survived by Katherine, his wife, and six children, step children, and children from another mother: Chantel Patton, Brent Swanson, Ronald Landberg, Scott Marlowe, Ray Marlowe, and Karin Marlowe . He is survived by 14 grandchildren combined. He is also survived by his sisters Jodi, Candi, and Carla and his brothers Lonny and Danny. Randy loved his country, his family, and his friends. He will be sorely missed.

A funeral will be held at the Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Goldendale on March 7 at 1 pm. Randy will be interned with military honors at the Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent on Friday, March 13, at 1 p.m. Promptness is necessary. It is a half-hour service. There will be a Celebration of Life in Burlington at the Burlington Eagles on Saturday, March 14, at 3:30 p.m. Burlington Eagles address: 119 N. Cherry St. Burlington, Washington. Contact Joni Rhea at for any questions.


Reader Comments


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2020