The Honorable H. Roger Swanstrom led a full and distinguished life as a loving son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, and member of the Idaho judiciary. Roger died on Saturday, July 1, 2017.
Born August 26, 1930 in Council, Idaho, to Lillian and Carl Swanstrom, Roger was the third of four children and a proud third generation Idahoan. Roger developed many lifelong friends growing up in Council.
Although he contracted Osteomyelitis at age 6, causing permanent damage to his hips and joints and leaving him with a limp for the remainder of his life, Roger still managed the very labor-intensive job of pulling green chain as a young man at the local lumber mill, to pay for his college tuition.
Roger attended the University of Idaho (the second generation of four to attend) and was a member of the first pledge class of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. At school he met Yvonne Barmon, a lovely big-city gal from Seattle. Roger intended to be a Mechanical Engineer but needed to choose between summer work or incur additional expenses with required math classes. True to his conservative nature, Roger switched his major to Political Science which allowed him to graduate in four years, the class of 1953. Roger and Vonnie married that November. They were married for 64 years.
Roger obtained a Bachelors of Law degree (LLB) from U of I in 1956. He went on to pass the Idaho State Bar which enabled him to practice law at Swanstrom & Swanstrom Attorneys with his father. The father/son duo provided Council, Idaho with two attorneys - one for the prosecution and one for the defense! While enjoying life there, Roger and Vonnie were blessed with three sons, Peter, Todd and Troy. Large legal cases in Council were too infrequent to support his bride and their three growing boys however, so the family moved to the big city of Grangeville. In Grangeville, Roger became Prosecuting Attorney for Idaho County from 1967 to 1970. He was the City Attorney and also maintained his private practice. He was appointed to the first class of Idaho Magistrates in 1970, in 1973 he was appointed by Governor Cecil Andrus as District Judge for the Second Judicial District, and he also served as President of the Idaho District Judges’ Association. In 1981 Governor John Evans appointed Roger as one of the three original members of the Idaho Court of Appeals in Boise, Idaho and in 1988 he was elected for another six years. Many of his opinions are still used in law schools today, reaching far beyond the state of Idaho. He is remembered for his fair and well-researched opinions, and how he focused on rehabilitation of the offenders in lieu of issuing swift sentences.
Beyond his distinguished career as an attorney and jurist, Roger was an avid outdoorsman and family man. Some of his greatest joys in life were camping with his three sons at Wildhorse Lake and fishing with his family on the beautiful Clearwater River. His sons are a testament to his character as Roger emulated and demanded honesty and integrity in every aspect of life. All three sons have a love of sports and for Idaho’s wilderness. They carry on their mother and father’s legacy with their strong sense of family and the importance of community. Many of these qualities Roger inherited from his grandparents and his parents, role models who instilled a strong moral compass in him which has passed down now through six generations of Idahoans.
Roger was preceded in death by his mother, Irma Lillian Buell; father, Carl Hill Swanstrom; and sister, Carolyn. He is survived by his wife, Yvonne Swanstrom; sister, Barbara Swanstrom Samulski (Vancouver, Wash.); brother, Carl B. Swanstrom; and sons, Peter (Barbara, Kristin, Kevin), Todd (Dedra, Kyle & Shelby, Conor) and Troy (Linda, Alexa, Daniel) all of Boise.
Services will be held Friday July 7, 2017, at 3 p.m. at Boise First United Methodist Church, The Cathedral of Rockies. A celebration of life will follow at 5 p.m. at Crane Creek Country Club.
The family would like to thank their friends, and the kind and caring staffs at Edgewood Plantation Place and Spring Creek Manor, for the loving and heart-filled support shown over the last eight years. The benevolence of love to all the family is both humbling and deeply appreciated. In lieu of flowers, we ask that you please consider donations to the Alzheimer’s Association.
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