School 09

Barbara Jean (Burkel) Swenson

December 27, 1945 ~ December 9, 2021 (age 75)


Barbara J. Swenson, age 75, of Monticello, formerly of Clearwater and Shakopee, died Thursday, December 9, 2021 at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis.

Barbara Jean Burkel was born December 27, 1945 in Green Bay, WI to Curtis and Geraldine (Hager) Burkel. She grew up in Green Bay and graduated from East High School in Green Bay. She continued her education at the University of Wisconsin-Stout where she earned a her degree in education. She later earned her Masters of Education from Mankato State University. She was united in marriage to Gary Swenson in Green Bay on May 30, 1967 during a private ceremony; the wedding celebration was held a month earlier without Gary as the Army did not authorize leave for their wedding. Gary and Barb started their family in Alaska where Gary was stationed in the Army, prior to moving to Rochester, Austin, Shakopee and Prior Lake. Barb loved her career in education; over the years she worked for the Shakopee, Chaska, and Norwood-Young America School Districts. She loved teaching so much that she was still substitute teaching in Buffalo as recently as 3 weeks ago. After Gary's retirement, Barb and Gary built a new home in place of their cabin on Limestone Lake near Clearwater. They lived there until October of 2020, when they moved to Monticello and their daughter and son-law purchased the lake home. Barb enjoyed sewing, cooking, baking, entertaining, reading, teaching, playing Bingo with Gary, spending summers at the lake and spending winters in Arizona. She was often found humming a tune, dancing in the kitchen or rounding up anyone for a game or cards. She thoroughly enjoyed being with people, especially her close friends in Arizona and beloved family. Her pride and joy were her grandchildren. Barb never met a stranger only a new friend.

Barb was the recipient of a kidney transplant in 2020 and spent time at the Gift of Life Transplant House. Barb died in the same hospital room as her husband, Gary, just one day after his death. They both died as a result of Covid-19 under the tender care of the Abbott Northwestern Hospital staff.

Barb is survived by her children, Coreen (Joe) Lenzmeier of Clearwater and Jennifer (Bruce) Russo of New Prague; six grandchildren, Jacob (Kalei), Grace and Sophia Lenzmeier, Max, Zoe and Zeke Russo; great-grandson, Isaac Lenzmeier; and brother, Mike Burkel. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband; and sisters, Shirley Erickson and Janice Smith.

A private committal ceremony will take place at Ft. Snelling National Cemetery. Memorials are preferred to the Gift of Life Transplant House in Rochester. Arrangements are entrusted with Dingmann Funeral Care Burial & Cremation Services of Annandale.

Obituary, Tribute Wall and Video Tribute online at



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Private Interment

Ft. Snelling National Cemetery
7601 34th Ave S.
Minneapolis, MN 55450


Gift of Life Transplant House
705 2nd Street SW Rochester, MN 55902, Rochester MN 55902
Tel: 1-507-288-7470

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