Posted by: calloftheandes | December 28, 2011

From Listener to Radio Engineer, Ministry Relationship Lasts 71 Years

Stan Swanson worked in the broadcast industry but attributed the pull to missions to "a keen interest in the ability of radio to reach the masses."

As the son of an engineer, Stanley Russell “Stan” Swanson’s interest in shortwave radio had already been ignited by the time he reached age 12. In 1940 in Chicago, he first heard Radio Station HCJB, based in Ecuador. That began a relationship between listener and broadcaster that was to last several decades.

Born June 11, 1928 to Walter S.R. Swanson and Edna Swanson, he graduated in 1946 from Taft High School in Chicago. Swanson then went on to attain an electrical engineering degree in 1950 from Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. He also took graduate courses in electromagnetic theory and transient analysis from the University of Maryland and afterwards taught various electrical engineering courses at North Dakota Agricultural College (presently North Dakota State University) in Fargo.

In the early 1950s, Swanson went on to engineering work with Motorola, Inc. and Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C., Stromberg-Carlson and later General Dynamics, both in Rochester, N.Y. With the radio station WCMF in Rochester, he carried out various engineering responsibilities and also served on the station’s board of directors.

Stan Swanson

Asked about early missions involvement, Swanson recalled that “members of our church paid for a trip to Quito and Panama to repair and install equipment that had been donated to HOXO.” The station in Panama, HOXO – The Voice of the Isthmus, was affiliated with HCJB Global. Swanson and his wife, Shirley, served with HOXO from 1969 to 1978.

After that, the Swansons and their sons moved to McAllen, TX, to work with radio station KVMV where Stan served from 1978 to 1984 as an engineer. He also filled in as interim manager for a few months. As other stations were added along the U.S.-Mexico border, the World Radio Network (WRN) was formed.

“Those of us who knew Stan and had the privilege of serving with him, will tell you that he was the model to which all missionary engineers should aspire,” said Glenn Lafitte, who was learning Spanish at the nearby Rio Grande Bible Institute in Edinburg when he first met Stan. Lafitte would go on to managerial roles in the network that included a supervisory role over Swanson years later.

Swanson served on a church board while living in Panama, also singing in choir in both Panama and McAllen. Later at a Laredo church, he served as a deacon. His varied interests included biblical archaeology and radio, which included tuning in distant FM stations or “DXing”. He enjoyed building new stations. Detail-oriented, he also counted among his interests, proofreading.

Describing Swanson as, “brilliant, hardworking and dedicated”, Lafitte, CEO of the World Radio Network, offered that “there are many people who know the Lord, and many others have grown in their faith, because of Stan’s ministry.”
Over the years Stan put several of the WRN stations on the air, including KBNL in Laredo, where the Swansons moved in 1984. It was this station that Lafitte later managed, with Swanson handling engineering responsibilities for the network. It was also in Laredo that Shirley Swanson died in 1989.

Swanson’s retirement at age 65 in 1993 didn’t mean that his ministry years were finished. In 2004, he moved to Yuma, Ariz., to serve at WRN station, KYRM FM and to be nearer his son, Douglas, daughter-in-law, Raquel, and grandson, Steve.

After a lengthy struggle with pancreatic cancer, Swanson died on December 26, 2011, in Yuma. It was 43 years after he and Shirley had arrived on December 27, 1968 in San Jose, Costa Rica to begin their career with HCJB Global by learning the Spanish language. His relationship with HCJB Global endured in one way or another from age 12 until his death at the age of 83.

He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife, Shirley, and by their first son, Kenneth. Survivors include a brother, Wesley Swanson, Elk Grove Village, a sister, Miriam Woodcock, Warren, MI, two sons Douglas (Raquel), Yuma AZ and David, College Station, TX, and a grandson.

I had the privilege of visiting Stan in Douglas’ home last month,” Lafitte recounted. “Although he was weak, we talked mostly about the technical and ministry needs of the WRN stations which were always uppermost in his mind. He was actively corresponding by e-mail about those issues up until less than three weeks ago.”
A memorial service for Stan Swanson will be held on Friday, December 30 at 3:00 pm at First Christian Church, 3261 S Avenue 6 E, near 32nd St and Araby, in Yuma. (Website: Dwight Lind, Western Regional Director for World Radio Network, and Dr. Ted Haney, Chairman of the Board Emeritus of World Radio Network, will represent both missions with which Swanson had served.


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