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You are here: Davis of Iowa > Jim Davis's Biography > Appendix Four                     Click HERE to go to Appendix Five







(Karen’s family, the SWANSONS are covered to the extent that I have documents and memories about/of them and some help from Karens father’s nieces. Additionally, our daughter, Kim assembled a scrap book of Karen’s life using various documents and other materials that Karen had saved which was invaluable in composing this important portion of our lives. Again, I was not as diligent as I should have been in learning more about her family.  I really enjoyed knowing and being with her parents who we spent considerable time with, particularly in our early married years.) 


Karen was the second child of Edward Ray and Ruth Caroline (Stephens) Swanson.  Edward Ray was born on February 19, 1901 in York County, NE.  Edward was the fourth oldest of six children (the first two born were sons who died as babies, Albert born 1899, died 1975, Edward born in 1901 and died 1977, Edith born 1903, died 1992 and Alice  born 1905, died 2005 were the four surviving children)  born to H. (Franz) O. Swanson who was born June 1, 1868 and Alice Cora Martin who was born on April 12, 1871.  Franz and Alice were married in March 1896.  Franz died in January 1928 of cardiac issues and Alice died on July 20, 1936.  Franz’s mother was Bengta Olsson who married Swen Olaf Hanson.  Alice’s parents were Arges Martin and Sara Louisa Richards.   Franz’s father was Swan Olaf Hanson.*  Franz and his six siblings were all born near Listerby, Sweden.  Ruth Caroline (Stephens) Swanson was born May 13, 1906 in Rowan, IA and was the oldest of five children (Ruth died 1987, Rees born in 1909, Marian born 1911 died 1999, Joyce born 1913, died 1978,  and George born 1919, died 1994) born to George  J. Stephens, a Methodist minister, and Augusta P. Rietz.  George and Augusta were married on September 16, 1903.


Karen’s father, moved with his family to a farm near Swea City, IA in 1906.  His parents inherited the 160 acre farm from an uncle.   He attended and graduated from Swea City High School in 1920. He may have not attended school every year as he was nineteen when he graduated from high school and he commented to one of his granddaughters that times were difficult financially for his family. He graduated from Des Moines University with a BA in 1926 and began his  teaching career.   He served as a junior high principal at Osceola, coach

and senior high principal at Rowan, superintendent of schools at Wesley, Wasta, Titonka, Barnes City and What Cheer Schools in Iowa.  His teaching in Iowa was focused mainly on history, science and manual training, however he was mainly an administrator, e.g., Superintendent of Schools.. He gathered educational administration credits from Colorado University, Colorado State Teachers College and Iowa State College, receiving a MS in Education from Drake University  in May 1948. In 1956 he, at age 55 and Ruth, at age 50  resigned their jobs in Iowa and left for greener teaching pastures in California.  Edward would be able to teach the minimum of ten years to qualify for a California’s teacher pension.  Ruth would also qualify for a California teacher’s pension.  In California Edward taught English, Social Studies and Manual Training in a junior high school for ten years before retiring at 65 years of age. After retiring from full-time teaching, he frequently substitute taught while Ruth continued teaching math full-time in a different junior high school, also in Fullerton.  He also devoted considerable time to their Brea Methodist Church, specifically on the landscaping and handy man jobs.  When not otherwise engaged, Edward  worked extensively on wood working, at which he excelled, in his personal shop set up in their attached garage. He made furniture and assembled grandfather clocks for family and friends.

*Franz Oscar was Swanson when he came to the states.  His father was Sven so he was Sven’s son or Svensson in Sweden which is still the ninth most common surname there. They changed it to Swanson due to the limited alphabet in English.  After they arrived here, they passed on their surnames as they were and women took their husbands’ names which they hadn’t done in Sweden.  


Karen’s mother, Ruth grew up in North Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa as her  father ministered to Methodist parishners in those states and moved frequently.   She graduated from Denison, IA high school and received a BA degree from Simpson College, Indianola, IA in 1927 where she majored in chemistry.  She took additional educational graduate courses at Drake University, Colorado University, Colorado State Teachers College and Iowa University.  She taught science and math at Iowa high schools in Wesley, Hampton, Washta, Barnes City and What Cheer.  She frequently  served as principal in these schools, all of this before leaving Iowa for California.  She taught primary education in Fullerton, CA prior to retiring at 65 years of age.  Interestingly, before Edward and Ruth accepted the appointments in What Cheer, IA they interviewed for the same jobs at LaMoille High School where Jim Davis and his siblings attended.  They declined the LaMoille positions for the What Cheer opportunities.


Ruth’s family lived in Des Moines in the early 1940’s.  Her four siblings were all in or supporting the U.S. military.  Her sister Marian was a senior hostess at Camp Claiborne, LA, her sister Joyce was in the WAAC’s (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps), her brother Rees was in the Army and her brother George was a bomber pilot in Europe.   Marian married a career USAF enlisted officer who continued to work at the USAF base Wright Patterson in Dayton, OH, where they both lived out their lives.  Joyce served in the WAACs (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps) in Africa and Europe until the end of WWII.  She married an USAAF* pilot who made a career with the USAAF/USAF.  They retired to California, where they lived out their lives.  Rees served in the brutal Pacific theater of WWII as an enlisted man in the US Army.  Upon completion of his service, he was employed by the Defense Department in civil service jobs in San Diego, CA primarily at the U.S. Naval Base there.  He and his wife lived out their lives in California.  George piloted a USAAF B-24  Liberator bomber, named for  his mother, “Augusta P”,   on bombing runs over Europe from Italy.  He completed 50 missions in the later part of 1944.    After his service, George became a public school teacher. He taught high school science most of his career in Buckeye, AZ.  He never married. George spent his summers accompanying his sister Ruth and her husband, Edward traveling the U.S. and Canada. He died  and is buried in Buckeye, AZ.  These five siblings had only four children amongst them, Ruth had two, Marian had one and Joyce had one.   Of these four, neither of Ruth’s children nor Marian’s child are living.  I  don’t know about Joyce’s son.


*USAAF/USAF:   United States Army Air Force/United States Air Force.  The USAF was not founded as a separate branch of the military until 1947. Until then it was part of the US Army and called the US Army Air Force.


Edward and Ruth were married on June 12, 1928 in Rowan, IA where Edward and Ruth were teaching school.  They were married in Ruths Aunt’s (Wilhelmina Pelley) house.  They were married by Ruth’s father, a Methodist minister with 50 relatives attending. Ruth’s maid of honor was her sister, Marian and among the bridesmaids were Ruth’s sister Joyce  and Edward’s sisters Edith and Alice.   Edward and Ruth honeymooned trip in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  That fall they returned to their teaching duties at Rowan public school.

Edward Ray and Ruth Caroline (Stephens) Swanson


When Edward and Ruth moved to California in 1956, they had no home and no jobs, however, both of them knew they loved Southern California weather, that they had family there and that teachers were in high demand in California as it was growing rapidly.  They interviewed for teaching positions in Fullerton, CA and probably several other nearby cities. They accepted jobs in Fullerton junior high schools where Edward taught English, Social Studies and Manual Training (wood working) and Ruth taught math.  They purchased a modest new ranch home located on a quiet dead end street that stopped at an orange grove in Brea. Edward loved landscaping and spent the rest of his life in that house which he continually worked on the wonderful landscaping. To supplement their income and savings for retirement, both worked as retail clerks in a department store after school hours and on week-ends for a few years.  They spent most of their summers traveling the U.S and Canada in a pickup truck equipped with a camper body.  Edward particularly enjoyed stopping at the various highway historical site markers to learn more of the history of the country they both loved.  Edward was relatively healthy although he had a heart pacemaker in-planted in about 1970.  In the summer of 1971 Edward and Ruth joined a trip organized for retired teachers to Europe, the Middle East, and Japan. The picture below was taken in India of the healthy, happy two.



Edward and Ruth, 1971


Edward died of cardiac arrest in their home while talking to Karen on the phone on Sunday, December 17, 1977.  Edward was on the kitchen phone and Ruth on the bedroom phone.  Ruth heard Edward fall to the floor.  She ran to the kitchen to find Edward on the floor totally unresponsive.  EMTs were summoned but they were unable to get Edward to respond.  Ruth lived another ten years enjoying her California granddaughters, participating in church activities  and enjoying her friends.  She succumbed to colon cancer ten years later, also in her own home on April 9, 1987.  Her daughter, Karen, daughter-in-law Lee and Jim’s sister Beverly Everist spent several weeks watching over Ruth in her final days. Edward and Ruth are  buried side by side in Memory Garden Memorial Park, Brea, Orange County, CA.


Karen’s older brother Edward (Eddie) Rees Swanson was born May 7, 1932.  Eddie attended small Iowa schools where his father was superintendent and mother was a math and science teacher.  He graduated from What Cheer, IA high school in 1950 after which he enrolled at the University of New Mexico.  He also joined the National Guard which was activated to fight in the Korean War. He served in the U.S. Army infantry, fighting in Korea from July 1952 until he was evacuated after being wounded in battle in August 1953.  He spent two months in a Swedish Red Cross hospital located in Pusan, Korea before returning home on leave.  He completed his military obligation at Fort Carson, CO and then relocated to California where he engaged in several potential career choices finally settling into factory work for an edible oils food manufacturer in a quality control role. He married Erma Lee Butts on June 23, 1957. Eddie never fully recovered from his battlefield experience and took his own life in 1974.






IN 1953




Karen Otalie Swanson was born in Des Moines on  December 29, 1934 to Edward Ray and Ruth Caroline (Stephens) Swanson at 3:10 AM in Iowa Methodist Hospital.  She weighed 6 pounds 5.5 ounces and was 19.5 inches long.  Karen was a healthy baby. 


Karen Otalie Swanson



Karen grew up in the shadow of her older brother Ed and moved with her parents as they progressed through their Iowa careers as teachers and school administrators.  We  don’t know where Karen and her family spent her very early years.   Her parents   may have been teaching and living in Wesley, IA at that time.  She started attending school in a Des Moines public school for grades K through 2, moved to  a different undetermined school for grade 3 and possibly grade 4 or moved to a different school for  grade 4.  Grade 5 was  at Washta Consolidated  School and  grade 6 was at Titonka Consolidated School.  This supported by the report cards that Karen saved. The report card for grade 4 is missing so we are unsure of what school she attended for that grade.  For grades 7 through 9 Karen attended Barnes City Consolidated School. Ed two years ahead of Karen and attended the same schools Karen attended where their parents taught.


The family rented the Methodist Church parsonage for the three years that they were in Barnes City.  Karen was very active in sports and extra-curricular activities including basketball, speech club, glee club, mixed chorus, girls sextet and served as a school carnival attendant. Karen made excellent grades in the 7th, 8th and 9th grades in Barnes City, where her father served as Superintendent and taught several classes, including manual training for girls which was a required one semester course. Karen continued to excel in her studies earning more As than Bs and had no grade lower than a B. 


Karen’s father accepted a job as Superintendent of Schools in What Cheer, IA concurrent with Karen’s high school sophomore year.  Ruth also began teaching at What Cheer. Karen completed high school in What Cheer, where she excelled in her studies, almost exclusively earning As  in these classes.  She also continued a very high involvement  in extra-curricular activities. Karen’s activities during her years at Barnes City and What Cheer were:  basketball years 1 & 2, softball year 1, band  years 2, 3 & 4,  musical instrument groups years 3 & 4, Glee Club years 1, 2, 3 & 4,  president of Glee Club year 4,  small vocal groups years 1, 2, 3 & 4,  speech years 1, 2, 3 & 4, journalism 1, 2, 3 & 4, class officer years 1, 2, 3 & 4 and annual assistant editor 4.  Karen also competed in speech and debate, and participated in plays. Their senior class did a trip to Chicago which included visits to the Museum of Natural History, Science & Industry, Brookfield Zoo and Marshall Field’s Department Store. 


Karen graduated in May 1952 with academic honors.  Karen’s best friend through her years at What Cheer was her neighbor and classmate, Anne Draegert.   Anne and Karen were both very bright, leaders in their class and school and remained good friends for many years.  Anne was Karen’s maid of honor in our wedding in 1956.  Karen did not have any other close high school friends with whom she continued to correspond after leaving What Cheer.  


Karen’s brother, Ed was scheduled to depart the U.S. in July 1952.  Karen’s parents decided to do a  summer driving vacation to California and a visit with Ed before he shipped out to Korea.  Karen accompanied them.  They spent several days in the San Francisco Bay area visiting Ed and saying good bye to him. On the return trip they drove to southern California, visiting Knott’s Berry Farm and other southern California attractions prior to returning to What Cheer.




Karen Otalie Swanson, High School Graduation

May 1952


In her senior high school year, Karen, began exploring various colleges to further her education, looking at both Iowa University (IU) and Iowa State College (ISC) because of the relatively low in-state tuition at both universities.  She decided to attend ISC despite it being a bit further away than IU.  She enrolled at ISC with a prospective major of Home Economics with a minor in Household Equipment and an eye on eventually ending in a television career promoting a certain brand(s) of household equipment.  At that time several women were spokespersons for various brands of household equipment, e.g., Betty Furness appeared on weekly shows representing General Electric’s household items.  Karen’s brother Ed graduated from What Cheer High School in 1950 and enrolled in New Mexico University.  However, his National Guard Unit was activated in 1952 and Ed was ordered to California for further training in preparation to transit to South Korea to fight in the Korean War.  He was scheduled to depart the U.S. in July 1952.  Karen’s parents decided that a  summer driving vacation to California and a visit with Ed before he shipped out to Korea was in order.  Karen accompanied them.  They spent several days in the San Francisco Bay area visiting Ed and saying good bye to him. On the return trip they drove to southern California, visiting Knott’s Berry Farm and other southern California attractions prior to returning to What Cheer.


Karen arrived on ISC’s campus shortly after Labor Day with about 3000 other freshmen who were planning to major in Home Economics, Engineering, Science, Agriculture or Veterinary Medicine.  There were approximately 10,000 students at ISC at that time and there were approximately five men for every woman student.  The women were housed primarily in about seven women’s dorms on the southeastern corner of the campus and in about a dozen sororities located fairly close to and just south of the campus.  Karen was assigned randomly to Freeman Hall as she had no close friends attending ISC to room with.  Karen took basic classes that all freshmen were required to take in each of the five individual colleges, e.g., Home Economics.  She also immediately became involved in various extra-curricular activities including those focusing on singing and acting.  She spent so much time on these extra-curricular activities and socializing that she made poor grades and was placed on scholarship probation for her third quarter (ISC was on a quarter term program at that time.)  That fall, Karen went home for a weekend with a dorm-mate.  As the dorm-mates father, the assistant athletic coach  at the Estherville, IA high school was driving the vehicle with seven passengers, including Karen, the vehicle was involved in a fatal accident.  The driver was killed and another passenger seriously injured.  Karen was hospitalized  for a few days and categorized as in “fair condition”. 


There were many dating opportunities for the women at ISC with five men for every woman and fraternities particularly scheduled several parties and other exchanges with women in the dorms and in the sororities each quarter.  Karen was active in these events as well.  She became quite attached to one man to the point that near the end of her freshman year, she became “Pinned”, meaning that the fraternity man gave her his fraternity pin to wear and to advise other men and women that Karen was exclusively dating someone.   Karen also took up cigarette smoking and drinking of alcohol, in part because of these parties and the social pressure on students to imbibe and smoke.  The cigarette  companies actively sponsored  “smokers” by supplying cigarettes to students attending the smokers, as well as giving away small packs of five cigarettes generously at other functions.  (An absolutely shameful marketing practice, as many students became addicted to smoking, which we all now know nearly always shortens one’s life – and indeed Karen a life-long smoker, succumbed to pulmonary challenges resulting primarily from smoking at a premature age of 67.)  Karen also was a bit rebellious from being raised in a quite strict household – as her mother, the daughter of a Methodist minister, and her father also a fairly religious man never smoked, drank alcohol nor swore,  kept a somewhat tight rein on both Karen and her brother, Ed.   I suspect that this strengthened Karen’s resistance to quitting smoking and drinking.   Regardless, it was the cigarette companies marketing that made it all too easy.  In the last part of spring quarter, Karen was hospitalized with glandular fever. The summer before her sophomore year at ISC, Karen lived at home and earned a bit of money waiting tables in a small restaurant in What Cheer and she helped her parents remodel and redecorate the main level of their house.


We don’t know why or when Karen became unpinned, however, by the fall of her second year she was again actively dating.  She continued to be active socially and heavily involved in the singing and drama extra-curricular activities.  Jim Davis, a fellow sophomore and a pledge at the Acacia Fraternity needed a date for a fraternity party.  He called a ISC sophomore who was a class-mate from their high school senior year at Marshalltown IA, hoping that she might be available for the dance.  This woman had just become  pinned earlier that term but she had a dorm sister who might be available and she referred him to Karen.  The rest is history, but you need to read about it in Jim’s autobiography beginning in Part III, My College Years.




(6/23/1934-          )


Erma Lee Swanson was born to Sam and Lura Butts in Visalia, CA on June 23, 1934.   An only child, she grew up on her parent’s small, farm in Orosi, CA where she graduated high school in 1952 with her class of ten.  She had several cousins at school with her, so she was well looked after.  She played glockenspiel in the marching band and piano for the school and church choirs as well as for weddings, funerals, and church services.  Erma Lee, which her family calls her, packed fruit for a local CO-OP which processed various fruits grown on the neighboring farms during the summers when she was in high school. That work convinced her to attend college.  She attended Reedley Jr. College and then San Jose State where she graduated in 1956 earning her teaching credentials.


Soon after graduation, Lee, which her friends call her, met her future husband Edward R. Swanson Jr.  They married on June 23, 1957 and had two children, Toyel Denise and Keeley Lynn, during the next two years.  Lee taught 2nd grade. The family moved to Brea in 1961, where Lee continued  teaching second grade.  The family moved to Fullerton in 1963 and to Chino in 1965 where Lee taught 2nd grade for 28 years.  Ed died in 1974, leaving Lee to help both daughters through high school and college. 


Her daughter Toyel married David Niekerk and they had three children, Greg (married to Vanessa), Elizabeth and Daniel.   Lee also has two great grandchildren, Alex and Denise compliments of Greg and Vanessa.   Her daughter, Lynn  and Lynn’s husband  David Fite live nearby the independent living facility where Lee has lived since 2010.  Lee plays the organ for the church services in the retirement home and enjoys spending time with her friends. 






Toyel Denise Swanson was born on Feb. 13, 1958 in San Jose California.  She lived with her parents, Lee and Edward Swanson,  in nearby Campbell.  Less than one year later, in January, her sister Keeley Lynn Swanson was born.  The family moved to Fullerton a few years later.  She attended kindergarten through second grade at Ford Elementary in Fullerton.  Halfway through the year the family moved to a house they had built in what is now Chino Hills California.  Toyel and her sister spent a considerable amount of time with their grandparents Swanson who lived in nearby Brea, CA.  They also enjoyed spending time with their first cousins, Cindie and Kim Davis who were basically the same age as Toyel and her younger sister, Lynn whenever Cindie and Kim visited their grandparents Swanson. Grandma Swanson, when she was not teaching school spent as much time as she could with her granddaughters.  She delighted in making matching clothes for the four of them.


Toyel began third grade at Los Serranos Elementary where she went on to finish sixth grade.  She attended Ramona Junior High in Chino and ninth grade  at the newly minted Don Antonio Lugo High, transitioning to Chino high school in tenth grade. At Chino High, Toyel was involved in choir and ROTC.  It was in ROTC that she met her commanding officer and  future husband David Niekerk.  David was two years ahead of her so he started at  West Point when she was a junior in high school.  Toyel was an excellent student and had many friends from school and specifically her choir.  She decided to attend UCSD for college.  She lived in a campus apartment with four other girls, some of whom became lifelong friends.  She double majored in Sociology and French Literature and  was also very active in the local Methodist church.   


A month after graduating from college on July 6, 1980 she married 1st Lieutenant David Niekerk, her high school boyfriend.  David had just graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and was commissioned as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army in June of 1978.   Toyel and David relocated to the rolling hills and open prairie of Fort Riley, KS.  While in Kansas, Toyel attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS, earning her teaching certification and completing her student teaching at the Fort Riley School District.   In 1981 when David entered the Defense Language Institute (DLI) at The Presidio of Monterey, Toyel was also able to attend classes. 


Pregnant with their first child, Toyel graduated with honors several months ahead of the normal graduation date, giving birth to Gregory Benjamin at the Fort Ord Army Hospital on August 22, 1981.  Following graduation from DLI, David and Toyel relocated to West Berlin with Gregory, and Toyel became a teacher at the Department of Defense Berlin High School.  Toyel gave birth to Elizabeth Rose at the Berlin Army Hospital on July 4, 1985.  Two months later, David was assigned instructor duty at Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN. Toyel volunteered as a Red Cross assistant at the Army Medical Center receiving several certificates of appreciation for her invaluable support to the medical staff.  On April 19, 1987, Toyel gave birth to Daniel Aaron in Indianapolis.  


Toyel was researching nursing programs in Indianapolis when David decided in the summer of 1988 to leave active duty and join Pepsi in Minneapolis.  Upon relocating to Minnesota, Toyel chose to pursue her interest in nursing, enrolling in Normandale College in Bloomington, MN, graduating with honors in 1991.  Later that year, David accepted a new position with Mobil Oil moving to Cherry Hill, NJ. Toyel started work as a pediatric trauma nurse at the New Jersey Trauma Hospital in Camden, NJ.  In 1993 when the family moved to Dallas, Texas, Toyel focused on pediatric nursing, writing many nursing standard operating procedures used within all the departments. She won special recognition for her campaign to avoid pediatric brain injuries by requiring children to wear helmets while bicycling. In 1995 when the family moved to South Bend, IN, Toyel focused on prenatal nursing. When the family moved to Southern California in 1997, she started working in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Torrance Hospital, which became her passion in nursing.  In 1999 when the family moved to the Seattle area of Washington State, Toyel became the night supervisor of the NICU at Providence Hospital in Everett, WA.  


She began to pursue a master's degree in nursing when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Following a lumpectomy surgery along with many grueling months of chemo and radiation treatment, Toyel recovered from her cancer treatment and returned to her full-time nursing career in the NICU.  In September 2001 cancer returned in the form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. David brought Toyel to Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland on September 14 for intensive treatment.   After valiantly fighting cancer, a brain hemorrhage took Toyel's life on September 28, 2001.  


The devastation of losing Toyel dramatically impacted the entire family but was especially hard on her children, Gregory, Elizabeth, and Daniel.  Gregory graduated from Long Beach State as a music major and he is married to Vanessa and they have two children, Alexander and Denise, and currently live in North Las Vegas where Greg works for Amazon as a program manager for new facility startups.  Elizabeth also lives in North Las Vegas and works as a senior regional training manager for Amazon fulfillment centers.  Daniel lives in Seattle and works for T-Mobile as a computer problem-solving technician.


David was an outstanding officer, graduating from infantry, airborne, and recon schools as an infantry lieutenant and as a captain, advanced courses in armor. His stocky physique masked his excellence in physical fitness as he scored in the top 15% in the annual Army Fitness Test, qualified for the Army European swimming championships, and ran in three marathons while stationed in Berlin, Germany. 


After ten years in the Army, David resigned from the Army in 1988 to enter into a new career in human resources.  His U.S. Army service included assignments in the 1st Infantry Division and selection for the elite Berlin Brigade, completing two master's degrees, graduating from the Defense Language Institute, and receiving numerous commendations and awards including the Army Achievement, Army Commendation, and the Meritorious Service Medals.  


A year after leaving the Army, David was promoted to major in the Army Reserve and the Army requested him to return to active duty. Still, he decided to continue pursuing his civilian career.  Upon leaving active duty in the Army, David went to work for Pepsi in Minneapolis, MN. In 18 months, he was promoted to the regional H.R. manager covering the entire upper Midwest. In 1991 David joined Mobil Oil as an assistant manager at the Paulsboro, NJ Refinery.  18 months later he was promoted to a Regional H.R. Manager in Dallas.  In 1995 David joined Honeywell Aerospace as the Area Director of H.R. in South Bend, IN. In 18 months, he was promoted to the Director of Strategic Business Enterprises at the Aerospace Headquarters in Torrance, CA.  


In 1999 Amazon recruited David to turn the fledgling Amazon Operations, Customer Service, Supply Chain, and Logistics organizations into the premier world-class organizations of today.  David is known within Amazon as the architect of the organizational structure and human resources process keeping pace with Amazon doubling in sales and size every year.  In 2002 David became the first internal promotion to Vice President of H.R. He continued overseeing the growth and expansion of the Global Operations, Customer Service, and Logistics Organizations until he retired in 2016 when he turned 60. 


In retirement, David starts each morning preparing himself for his day by swimming 2,500 yards.  He is a global H.R. consultant for GLG Consultants based in NYC, and he is on the board of the Humane Society of the U.S. supporting his passion for animal rights and promoting plant-based versus animal-based diets.  He is also a board member of the  West Point Jewish Chapel.  David and his wife Elaina, a professor of economics at the University of Washington, divide their time between homes in Bothell, WA, and Las Vegas, NV.





(1/4/1959 -           )


My niece, Lynn, born Keeley Lynn Swanson in 1959 in San Jose, California - less than 11 months after her older sister, Toyel, was born.  The two sisters were close throughout their childhood sharing their lives, experiencing essentially the same things.  The major exception was Lynn was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic lung disease at 6 years of age.  Consequently, Lynn was considerably smaller than her older sister and had less energy.  However, Lynn excelled at living despite the cloud of a possible drastically shortened life span.  At that time children afflicted with Cystic Fibrosis had a life expectancy of only 18 years.  As I write this in 2023, Lynn is now 64 years old!!  Babies born in 2020 with Cystic Fibrosis are expected to live into their mid-40s and beyond.  Lynn had at least one second cousin on her fathers’ side who died of Cystic Fibrosis in his twenties. 


Lynn had a great childhood with many close friends.   She grew up in Chino Hills, California where there was only one housing tract and far more cows (many dairy farms) than people.   She attended summer camp  for kids with Cystic Fibrosis for over twenty years.  The summer camp was a huge part of her life and the friends she made there were deeply cherished.   She also enjoyed her involvement in drill team for several years.  Lynn graduated from Chino High School in June 1977.  While in high school during the summers and after high school, she worked part- and full-time jobs at local fast  food restaurants and department stores.


Lynn attended various colleges and graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a B.A. in Liberal Studies and a teaching credential in 1988.  On her first day at Cal Poly,  Lynn found herself assigned to a class at 4 p.m., which annoyed her as all of her other classes were done by 1 p.m.  That class was a composition class taught by one Dr. David Fite.  It happened to be David’s first day at Cal Poly also, who, after having left his position at Catholic University in Washington D.C., was pleased to be back in California. 


David had originally been exposed to the beauty of California after leaving his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio following his  graduation from Miami University of Ohio.  He was offered a position as a teaching assistant while earning his M.A. and Ph.D. in Rhetoric, Linguistics, and Literature at USC.  Following his graduation from USC, David taught at University of Santa Clara for three years and then made the terrible mistake of taking a job at Catholic University in the horrible weather of Washington D.C.  David started at Cal Poly as an assistant professor of English.   He earned a full professorship and then assumed the responsibility of administrator in the Faculty Center for Professional Development. 


One year following her completion of David’s comp class, Lynn decided to roll the dice and ask him out to dinner.  For some crazy reason, David agreed and she took him to Picasso’s in Dana Point for a lovely dinner.  The following date found them at David’s favorite Mexican dive, Tropical Mexico, where they had delicious food and a pitcher of margaritas for a fraction of what Lynn had spent on their first date.  


Lynn took her first teaching job as a fourth grade teacher in Claremont, California and  began the M.A. program in Educational Administration at the University of California Riverside, graduating a year and half later.  She continued to teach in Claremont but transferred to a different school where she taught fifth and sixth grade as well as middle school during the summers.  In all Lynn taught primary education in California public schools for almost 10 years. 


After a lovely wedding on the hottest day of the year in August of 1992, in which her Uncle Jim Davis walked Lynn down the aisle, David and Lynn bought a home in Rancho Cucamonga.  Five years later, Lynn found her health failing and went through extensive testing to get into the lung transplant program at UCLA Medical Center.  A little more than one year later, now on oxygen, she had to quit teaching and, finally, after two years of waiting, on January 28, 1998, she received a new set of lungs.  Following a difficult first year where she bounced in and out of the hospital, Lynn found a “new normal” and, despite the occasional setback, is still putting one foot in front of the other 25 years later.  After recovering from her lung transplant, Lynn supervised teacher credential candidates for Cal Poly, Pomona, CA for nine years.  It was a job which required Lynn to drive extensively between Cal Poly and the teaching locations of various credential candidates.


David took the position of Associate Provost for Institutional Planning and Assessment at Chapman University in Orange in 2001, which required a move to Orange County to avoid the insane commute from Rancho Cucamonga.  After eight years at Chapman, he accepted the position of Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Redlands in 2009.  David retired from his position at Redlands in 2016 and is happily pursuing his writing and reading without a long daily commute.



 Click HERE to go to Appendix Five