Robert (Bob) Carl Swanson

March 17, 1952 – November 4, 2021

Born in Eau Claire WI, Bob moved to Seattle, WA in 1965. Bob died at the age of 69 following a short struggle with cancer, having been cured of cancer 30 years prior. Bob lived his life with gusto and grit. His passion was to inspire by his actions and dedication, and he pursued this professionally by obtaining a Master’s degree in counseling and serving others through his career. Bob focused on building self-sufficiency among the most vulnerable. He was the Executive Director of the Washington State Community Action Partnership for 17 years and trained over 9,000 Family Development Specialists throughout the country. Always the political activist, Bob worked tirelessly to raise the minimum wage. When Bob took to a cause, he gave it the full force of his brilliant mind and huge heart. Bob believed in the power of community.  He was passionate about reckoning with inhumanity, and was profoundly committed to addressing racial and social inequity. He brought that fire and a very warm heart to everything he did.

Personally, Bob was a dedicated runner, completing over 30 marathons, including the Boston Marathon (three times).  He was one with nature, enjoying the outdoors, talking to trees, and tending his vegetable garden.  Bob respected and nurtured love in all he came in contact with. He cherished his time with his children, whether playing pool with Elise and her partner, Rick, or enjoying a dinner and solving the next 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle with Paul and his wife, Sarah.  Bob loved to explore and travel the world or just sit by the fire on a cool Autumn evening with his wife, Rita, of 22 years. He valued the bond and love they all shared. Bob always said yes to connection.

Bob was an optimistic fighter, an important aspect of his character. He motivated people around him to fight and charged forward with the relentless belief that he could help build a better world. He never gave up, no matter what. Even after his diagnosis, Bob swore that he would fight the disease and come back even stronger. Everyone who had the privilege of knowing him also knew that Bob’s fire was balanced by a thoughtful, friendly, outgoing, curious, empathetic, and welcoming nature. We are certain that Bob is continuing his work on a different plane, where kindness and compassion mean just as much as determination and grit. Bob did not surrender to death. Rather, he was called to ramp up his fight and transcend his love and care beyond this world.


Bob is survived by his wife, Rita, his four children Andy and David Swanson, Elise and Paul Woolworth, and sister, Judy Swanson and preceded in death by his mother, Adelaide Jordan, and father, Lloyd Swanson.


The world as we knew it is forever changed after Bob’s transcendence, and he will be dearly missed by his loved ones.  A celebration of Bob’s life will be held January 29, 2022 at 1pm at ArtsWest ** (proof of vaccine and masks required) where he not only served on the board, but also attended each performance, sometimes multiple times. Bob strongly believes that theater is vital to our connection and joy.  In lieu of flowers, please donate to ArtsWest in West Seattle.


**If you prefer attending remotely, please request the Zoom link by emailing



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