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Janet Schmidt Swanson ’60

March 28, 2023, in Olympia, Washington, peacefully.

Born on January 8, 1938, to Elliott Emil and Alice Harris Schmidt, Janet was born and raised in West Seattle. She enjoyed the outdoors from an early age, camping with her family, riding horses, and working as a counselor at a girls’ summer camp. She was also active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where she played the organ for services and taught primary classes.

As a teenager, Janet was fond of hopping the bus in West Seattle and spending the day downtown on her own. She graduated at the top of her class from West Seattle High School, then attended Reed, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics.

After college, Janet taught advanced math at Ingraham High School for a couple of years. In 1961, she married Ray Swanson ’60; they had three children. The family lived in Los Osos, California, and Surrey, British Columbia, before settling in Tumwater, Washington. In 1976, Janet and Ray bought Smith’s Greenhouse in Olympia, renaming it Boulevard Nursery and Florist. While Ray managed the nursery, Janet provided bookkeeping support for the business while maintaining a full-time job with Washington State.

Ray and Janet divorced in 1984, prompting Janet to pursue many of her own interests and curiosities. Inspired by her love of British mystery novels, she began her adventures with several trips to London.  Over the years she traveled throughout Europe, Morocco, Costa Rica, and Hawaii. She took up running and joined the Mountaineers, where she met many of her lifelong friends and completed a scrambling course, which gave her the confidence to climb Mount Adams and Mount St. Helens. She also enjoyed bicycling and cross-country skiing.

When she wasn’t traveling, Janet could usually be found working on her garden. In the evenings she attended and supported hundreds of concerts, operas, and theatre productions; she loved sharing her appreciation for the arts with friends and family by bringing them along.

Janet was an especially devoted grandmother to her three grandchildren. She was able to devote even more time to them and the many activities she enjoyed after she retired from her job as the business manager for the State of Washington Law Library in 1998.

When Janet recognized a need, she took action. She hosted several exchange students, supported local organizations and artists (she was a big fan of local musician Timothy Brock), and was an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. For a short period after her retirement, she was involved in the local peace and social justice movement. By her own acknowledgement, she had a very good life and was blessed to be able to do what she loved for so many years. Janet is survived by her children, Steven Swanson ’84, Sheila Smith, and Andy Swanson, and her grandchildren, Janine Smith, Simon Swanson, and Christine Smith.

Appeared in Reed magazine: Fall 2023

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