School 17

Ralph Swendseid

June 13, 1945 ~ March 29, 2022 (age 76)

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Ralph “R.B.” Benjamin Swendseid, passed away peacefully with his family around him on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022.

Ralph was born to Ervin and Elsie Swendseid in Lakota, North Dakota on June 13, 1945. Ralph was one of eight children. Life on the farm was busy and full of shenanigans with this crew. He loved to tell all of the stories of his siblings, T.R., Ione, Pal, Norma, Mike, Karen, and Meredith. He graduated from Petersburg High School in 1963. He attended Mayville State University, and he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Education in 1967.

Ralph married Audrey Loveness on March 19th, 1966. He accepted his first and only teaching position in Stephen, MN where they have lived ever since. As a teacher, Ralph taught Junior High English. In addition to teaching, Ralph was the school librarian. During the summer, Ralph taught Drivers’ Education. He would tell you that this was one of the highlights of his career. He loved his trips to Grand Forks and the conversations with the kids. Ralph was also known as “The Voice of the Tigers”. When he wasn’t teaching, you could find him in the gymnasium or up in the press box. Ralph was so proud of his school, the community, and the kids that he taught. While doing all this, Ralph and Audrey raised their family of 5 children – Geoffrey, Matt, Janelle, Travis, and Erica. Needless to say, they stayed busy, loving every minute of it.

After 34 years, Ralph retired from teaching. He kept busy with woodworking, painting, drawing, and spending time in his back yard. Ralph loved his backyard, and he loved sharing it with friends and family. He enjoyed sitting on the deck during the day, admiring the work that he and Audrey had completed. At night, he loved to sit by the fire and share laughs with family and friends. In addition, Ralph was an active participant in the Stephens Lions Club. He received the Melvin Jones Fellow award in 2020, something he was very proud of. Ralph loved music, and although, he didn’t like to be in the spotlight, he spent many years participating in community musicals – he was an amazing Mayor Shinn. He also lived out a dream to be a “dj”, creating his radio personality “Ralph Bennett” where he had a weekly show on Sunday mornings for a radio station in Thief River Falls. His love for music and community pride led him to be an active leader and advocate for the Stephen Arts Center. Seeing and hearing live music on the Arts Center lawn was in itself “music to his ears”.

Ralph would tell you that his greatest accomplishment was his family. They were his pride and joy. He is survived by his wife, Audrey Swendseid, his children Geoffrey (Deanna), Matthew (Jodie), Janelle (Mark), Travis (Jennifer), and Erica (Chris), his grandchildren, Brandee, Logan, Hunter (Kat), Kennedy, Jade, Marcus, Amber, Mason, Ashley (Keaton), Kristina, Emmett, and Greta, his great-grandchildren, Luke, Ford, and Malaki, and honorary great-grand children, Lexi and Gavin, his sister, Karen Pingatore, his sister-in-law, Bonnie Loveness, his brother-in-law Ned Holte, and several nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by his parents, Ervin and Elsie Swendseid, his father and mother-in law, Earl and Veronica Loveness, his siblings, T.R. Swendseid, Ione LeMunion, Dorothy “Pal” Olmscheid, Norma Bennewitt, Mike (Marion) Swendseid, and Meredith Holte, and his brother-in-law, Kenny Loveness.

Years ago, one of Ralph’s friends was talking with him, and he looked at Ralph and said, “You are one of the richest men in town.” Ralph would often talk about that moment, look at the family that surrounded him, and smile.

FUNERAL SERVICE: 10:30 AM on Friday, April 8, 2022 at First Lutheran Church in Stephen, MN.

VISITATION: 5:00 – 7:00 PM on Thursday at First Lutheran Church in Stephen and also one hour before services at the church on Friday.

A RECORDING of the Service may be found here:

To send flowers to Ralph's family, please visit our floral store.


April 7, 2022

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
First Lutheran Church
573 Stephen Ave
Stephen, MN 56757

Funeral Service
April 8, 2022

10:30 AM
First Lutheran Church
573 Stephen Ave
Stephen, MN 56757

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