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Woodlawn Funeral Home Obituaries

Janet Marie Swanson , Age: 85
January 08, 1938 - March 28, 2023

Janet Marie Swanson passed away peacefully on March 28, 2023 at the age of 85.


Janet was born on January 8, 1938 to Elliott Emil and Alice Harris Schmidt. Janet was born and raised in  West Seattle. She enjoyed the outdoors at an early age; going on camping trips with her family, riding horses, and working as a counselor at a girls summer camp. She was active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints where she played the organ for services and taught some of the primary classes. She was also fairly adventurous as a teenager and often talked about hopping the bus in West Seattle and spending the day in downtown Seattle on her own. Janet graduated in the top 10 of her class from West Seattle High School in 1956, then was awarded a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Reed College in Portland Oregon in 1960.


After college, Janet taught advanced math at Ingraham High School for a couple of years, teaching students that were only a couple of years younger than she was. In 1961, Janet married Ray Swanson, and they had three children: Steven, Sheila, and Andy. As the children were growing,  the family spent some time at various locations on the west coast, including Los Osos, California and Surrey, British Columbia before settling in Tumwater, Washington. In 1976, Janet and Ray bought Smith’s Greenhouse on Boulevard Road 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. At that point, Janet pursued many different activities that led to some great experiences and friendships. Inspired by her love of British mystery novels, she began her adventures with several trips to London.  Over the years she went on many trips throughout Europe, Morocco, Costa Rica, and Hawaii. Her love of the outdoors inspired her to take up running and join the local Mountaineers where she met many of her lifelong friends. She enjoyed bicycling, cross-country skiing, and hiking.  She was particularly proud of completing the Mountaineer’s scrambling course.  The skills she gained gave her the confidence to climb peaks such as Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens. 


Her life was not all about hiking and travel.  When at home she could usually be found working on her beautiful garden. She joined Master Gardeners and was active in the local garden tour scene. In the evenings she attended and supported hundreds of concerts, operas, and theatre productions. Janet loved to introduce others to the things she enjoyed.  She was constantly inviting family members and friends over to enjoy her garden, hike, ski or attend concerts. She was an especially devoted grandmother to her three grandchildren and enjoyed sharing many of her adventures with them.  She was able to devote even more time to her activities after she retired from her job as the Business Manager for the State of Washington Law Library in 1998.


When she recognized a need, she would step up and take action. She hosted several exchange students, supported local artists (she was a big fan of local musician Timothy Brock) and organizations and became more active at 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, Janet had a very good life, and felt blessed in many ways to be able to do what she loved for so many years.



Janet is survived by her brother, James (Jim) Schmidt (Susan, deceased), her three children, Steven Swanson (Irena), Sheila Smith (Brad), and Andy Swanson (Katie, deceased), her three grandchildren; Janine Smith, Simon Swanson, and Christine Smith, and numerous nieces and nephews.


The family would like to thank the staff of Brookdale Olympia for their care of Janet over the past 10 years. Also, a special thanks to her Olympia friends Gary Minns, and Karen and David Rings for their friendship and support.


A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life is planned for Monday, June 5th at 11:00 a.m. at the Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Please check with OUUC or Woodlawn Funeral Home websites for updates.

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