Former Robbinsdale teacher found dead from apparent beating

Situated along Vincent Avenue in north Minneapolis, Lois Swenson's home now sits vacant. But every inch of the exterior bristles with signs of life.

"Lois was a big advocate of home farms and gardening and stuff," said Dale Runke, a friend.

"She would instruct kids in the neighborhood about growing," said Pat Jordan, another friend.

Those who knew Swenson say she not only had a green thumb, but a willingness to reach out to those in need. Yet, her life was cut short when police found her dead in her bedroom Wednesday afternoon. Swenson was 76 years old.

"The medical examiner came out and removed the victim and a subsequent autopsy determined that this victim died as a result of homicide," said Sgt. Stephen McCarty of the Minneapolis Police Dept. "I believe it was blunt [force] trauma."

Police don't consider the violence a random act.

Meantime, Swenson's longtime handyman and friend, Dale Runke, stopped by her home Friday to lend a helping hand.

"They had smashed the back door to get in, so we're replacing the door and we're gonna replace the lock in front," Runke said.

A kind gesture from Runke for a woman who did so much to help others.

"She was a wonderful person, wonderful person," Runke said.

Swenson had spent the better part of 25 years (1962-1987) as a sixth grade teacher in Robbinsdale Area Schools. District officials say she spent the most time at Forest Elementary.

"She made such an impression on so many others, and that is a legacy," Jordan said.

Some of the other ways that friends say she enriched people's lives during her retirement was by housing people in need, or teaching immigrants how to use the bus system.

Minneapolis police say they have no suspects in custody, but the homicide unit is pursuing several leads. That said, they're asking anyone with information to call police.

Delane Cleveland

Jun 15, 2012


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