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Bernie Leumina (Cote) Swenson

December 18, 1933 ~ June 14, 2018 (age 84)


  A memorial Mass will be held for Bernie Swenson, 84, of North Bend, on Saturday, June 23 at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 2250 16th St. in North Bend, with father Jim Graham presiding. A recitation of the rosary will precede the memorial Mass beginning at 10 a.m. A reception will follow services in the church parish hall. A private inurnment will take place at a later date at Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in Coos Bay. Bernie was born Dec. 18, 1933 in Thorne, N.D., to Ovide Joseph Cote and Amelia Mary (Dease) Cote. She died on Thursday, June 14, 2018 surrounded by her family, in Portland. Bernadette grew up on a farm, where she learned the value of hard work, patience, and faith at an early age. She loved reading and read every book in the local library. Inspired by her mother, who had taught in a one-room school before marriage, she also became a teacher. After graduating from St. Joseph High School, a boarding school in Willow City, N.D., she attended Mayville State Teachers College where she met Donald “Don” Swenson. Donald and Bernadette fell in love, and after graduating with a Standard Teachers Certificate, she began her career in a two-room school in Minnesota. On May 28, 1955, she married Donald. They both taught in North Dakota before moving to John Day, in 1958. Here they began their family while he taught at the high school and she worked as a substitute teacher. The family moved to North Bend in 1965, where she taught kindergarten and elementary, and served as a librarian for the North Bend School District. Bernie then became a substitute teacher, usually as a long-term sub, and taught at every grade school in the area. During this time, she completed her bachelor's from Linfield College. She continued substitute teaching until nearly 70 years of age. Bernadette then retired and became a volunteer at the Lighthouse School, SMART Reading, and several other school programs until February this year. The list of Bernie’s community contributions is long. She served in local government, including 15 years on the Coos County Election Board, and terms on the Coos County Park Board and the North Bend City Planning Commission. She was active in the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, doing the tasks asked of her, including teaching classes and serving as director of Religious Education. She was on the church council and served in the Altar Society, including many terms as its president. In 2007, she started the Hats for Heroes project, which sews hats for wounded veterans and children at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, along with Christmas socks for the North Bend Fire Department outreach program with local children. Bernie was a trained hospice volunteer, a task she continued to do until spring 2018, she worked with Church Women United, she held a number of positions with the local Red Cross, she helped organize the food bank, and she aided other groups helping those in need. She enjoyed her hobbies, including gardening, bridge, sewing, meeting friends and making cookies for her grandchildren. Bernie found great joy working with children, teens, and young adults throughout her life. She led 4-H groups, Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, and helped make costumes and do other tasks for the NBHS Drama Club, where the young actors affectionately called her “Grandma Bernie.” The final play for 2017-18 season, “Murder in Mayville,” was selected as a tribute to Bernie and Don. The city of North Bend honored Bernie with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 North Bend July Jubilee for her service to the community. Her life could be summed up in her approach to everyone she met. When they needed help, she offered it; when they needed food, she found a way to provide it; when they needed comfort, she was there to give it. In her life, her answer to the call to serve was “yes.” Words from Shakespeare seem appropriate: “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” Bernie is survived by her five children, Tamara Swenson of Osaka, Japan, Donald Swenson of Coquille, Dana Swenson of Biberach, Germany, Marcia Marchant of North Bend and Scott Swenson of Bend; seven grandchildren, Hunter, Taylor, Hannah, Marissa, Ryan, Max and Parker; her children of the heart, Shelly, Shannon, Brad, Joe, and Marion; her sisters, Leonid Crosby, Louise Boucher, Marcella Keily, Rita Scharf and Florence Helman; and her brother Ernest Cote, and all of their families. Bernadette was preceded in death by her parents, Ovide and Amelia Cote; her brother Ovila Cote; her sisters Rose Alma Hancock and Theresa Phlugrath; and her beloved husband, Donald Raeburn Swenson on May 14, 2018. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions be made to the Catholic Daughters (CDA), Holy Redeemer Catholic Church, 2250 16th St., North Bend, OR 97459, to the CDA scholarship fund (Bernie Swenson, Scholarship) to provide a woman the resources for a second chance at an education, a cause Bernie always supported, or to a charity of one’s choice. Friends and family are encouraged to sign the online guestbook at www.coosbayareafunerals.com and www.theworldlink.com. Arrangements are under the care of North Bend Chapel, 541-756-0440.
 

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