Merle Swenson

Rapid City

Merle Dean Swenson, 85, of Rapid City, died Dec. 19, 2020, after a brief illness.

Funeral services were held Saturday, Dec. 26, at Calvary Lutheran Church in Rapid City. Online condolences can be left at www.osheimschmidt.com. A celebration of Merle’s life will be held at a later date.

Merle was born to Theodore and Amy (Bard) Swenson in Lane on Aug. 5, 1935. He graduated from Lane High School in 1953.

On a blind date in Huron in 1955, Merle met Carol Ellison. The couple was married on July 28, 1956, in a small country church near Vermillion that Carol’s grandparents helped build.

The Swensons spent a short while in Huron before moving to Rapid City so Merle could pursue a degree at the School of Mines and Technology. Two years into his studies, the couple started a family, and Merle put his education on hold. Merle frequently worked two jobs to make ends meet and the family moved several times as he accepted better career opportunities. The Swensons lived in the South Dakota cities of Huron, Canton, Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City.

Merle worked for the State of South Dakota for 32 years. He was a registered land surveyor and was employed as an engineer for the Department of Transportation (DOT). He worked for the state on land surveying crews in the Black Hills. Merle helped install and integrate the state’s first CAD (computer aided design) software and the first GPS technology in the state. His final job title was Director of Surveys and Photogrammetry. He served an additional 10 years with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) after he retired from the state.

Merle was a volunteer with the Journey Museum, Optimist International and other professional and social organizations. He also enjoyed golfing, travel, visiting his family and reading. He was a member of Calvary Lutheran Church in Rapid City.

Merle is survived by his wife of 64 years, Carol; children, Pam Sheperd, of Portland, Ore., Vicki (Ron) Dutenhoffer, of Frederick, Michael Swenson, of Rapid City, and Amy (Matt) Einspahr, of Brookings; 11 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents; siblings, Lowell, Marvin and Dorothy (Mueller) Swenson; two sisters in childhood, Florence and a baby; and three nephews.

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