Charles Swanson died in 1936. Arnold, his fourth son, was 6. He died at home from stomach cancer, I think.
It was the depression. Alma, his widow, took over his postal route. She also took in washing from the nearby CCC camp. There wasn’t much money. There wasn’t much of anything. They lived, the family, in Big Fork, MN for another eight years or so, before moving to Minneapolis for Arnold’s freshman year in high school.
Arnold grew up without a dad, grew up without much stuff, grew up pretty early.
While in the hospital after being wounded during his time in Korea, he decided that what he had heard about God was true. He decided to become a minister.
He ended up, however, not working in a church. Instead, he worked with an organization that worked with boys in a way similar to scouts. He used to say, “the only thing you can make a man out of is a boy.” He always believed that it wasn’t a program for boys, it was a program for men who worked with boys. He always believed that you should influence people however you could.
It’s interesting that sometimes people are identified by their pain. Sometimes people are identified by the ways they changed the world so others wouldn’t have to suffer the same pain they did. Because Arnold decided to do the latter, there are a few thousand families across North America that are stronger, that have dads that have cared about their families.