Audrey I. Swanke, 92, died in Duluth, MN on September 30, 2021 surrounded by loving family.
She was born on April 3, 1929 in Nash Township, Nelson County, ND to Herbert M. and Clara E. Drake. Until the last three months she spent her entire life in North Dakota. She was a proud North Dakotan.
She attended elementary school in Petersburg and Michigan, ND and graduated from Lakota High School in 1947. She married John A. Swanke in 1952 in Lakota. They established their home and raised four children. John died in 1993.
After their youngest child started school, she went to work for Nelson County and worked in county government for over thirty years. She was elected to the position of Register of Deeds and also became the Clerk of Court when the offices were combined. She retired in 1995.
Also active in her local community, she was an original member of the Lakota City Park Board, and was a member of NelKota Homemakers Club, the Tally Ho Bridge and Dozen Whist Clubs. A long time member of the Lakota United Church of Christ until the church closed in 2018, she modeled a quiet but steadfast faith.
An avid gardener, she called “digging in the dirt” her therapy. She was a talented knitter and quilter, and enjoyed a competitive game of cards. She was a baseball, college basketball and Bison football fan. She loved ice cream and in her last months enjoyed many trips to the DQ for a chocolate shake. She loved dancing with John and listening to big band music.
A continual monitor of current events and activities well beyond the borders of North Dakota, she openly maintained strong beliefs and opinions. She enjoyed nothing more than a good political debate, starting with her father and then with her brothers and extending to her sons-in-law. She looked for the best in people and was a champion of the underdog.
An excellent hostess and entertainer who set a beautiful table, she and John created a warm and welcoming home for their immediate and extended families and friends. An accomplished cook, baker and candy maker it was a treat to gather at their table. As their house was the “big house” it became the center of many holiday and special gatherings. In 2020, she handled with strength and grace her decision to leave her home of over sixty years.
She passed many of these characteristics and diverse skills down to her children. She loved her family fiercely and she was neither afraid to tell them so, nor to hold them to her high standards. Through it all, she knew that she was loved.
Her parents predeceased her, as did her husband, John; her siblings, Eugene Drake, Dale Drake, H. Allen Drake, Shirley Naismith, and Claire Alwin; and a dear friend, Lynn Schroeder.
She is survived by her children, Stephen (Denice), Calumet, MI, Marsha Gorman (Mark), Lanesboro, MN, Dr. Susan Goltz (Stan), Duluth, MN, and Peter (Maggie), Livingston, MT; her beloved grandsons, John and David Goltz, Peter John Swanke; and step-grandsons Adil & Aram Narang. She is also survived by a sister-in law, Inez Drake and many nieces and nephews.
Services will be held on Monday, October 11, 2021 at 10:00 AM at the Lakota Community Center with interment to follow in the Lakota Cemetery. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, facial coverings are required. Memorials may be directed to Lakota City Library or the Lakota Ambulance.
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