Gary A. Swanson

Gary A. Swanson was born July 26, 1941 and peacefully passed away at home on April 5, 2021, with his loving wife and loved ones by his side. Gary was born in Pierre, SD to Leslie and Irene (Hagny) Swanson. Gary grew up in Onida, SD, where Gary attended school and graduated high school in 1960. During high school, Gary played football and was a 1959 South Dakota All-State football player. Growing up, Gary was involved in Boy Scouts. In 1960, Gary moved with his family to Belle Fourche.

Gary enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served from October 1962 until October 1966. He served on the USS Tioga County LST-1158. While in the Navy, Gary earned the Vietnam Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and a Good Conduct Medal.

After honorably serving in the U.S. Navy, Gary returned to Belle Fourche where he held various jobs and served on the Belle Fourche Volunteer Fire Department. He was a member of AMVETS. Gary moved to Rapid City in 1997 and retired from the Rapid City School District in 2004.

As a husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, stepfather, bonus grandfather, and friend, Gary spent his final weeks and days surrounded by those he loved telling stories, joking and showing how much he cared for everyone.

Gary is survived by his wife, Tylene Swanson of Rapid City, whom he married on May 24, 1997; daughter, Stephanie (Bob) Lyons of Catauba, NC; grandsons, Canaan (Jocelyn), Greyson and Cael Lyons; brother, Rick (Mary) Swanson; niece, Nicole; nephew, Larry (Heather); aunt, Gladys Hagny; numerous cousins and his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Barry and Elaine Totman. Gary is also survived by his stepdaughters: Cheri (Tommy) Petroski, Cindy (John) Geib, Lenora (Lew) Simpson, Jodi (Curt) Massie and Tina (Dave) Leppert; his stepson, Jeff (Amy) McMartin; 16 bonus grandchildren, ten boys and six girls; and many close and dear friends.

Gary is preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Larry; his infant son, Stephen; and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.

Gary had a happy go lucky spirit and was always smiling. Gary would help anyone with anything and would happily give the shirt off his back to a stranger, although he knew no strangers. Gary loved spending time with his family, camping, travelling, watching the RFD show on TV, having early morning breakfasts with his brother and friends, regardless of the weather, and “puttering” around the house. Even in his last days, he made sure he sent extra winks to his wife.

Gary loved long (and short) drives to explore new places and was known for saying “wonder where this road goes”. Gary, we now know where that road went and that you have reached your final destination.

In lieu of flowers, memorials have been established at the Humane Society of the Black Hills (please earmark for pet adoptions and/or pet food) or Disabled American Veterans of Rapid City.

Visitation was held on Friday, April 9, 2021 from 5-7pm at Kirk Funeral Home, 1051 East Minnesota Street, Rapid City.

Celebration of Life Services will be Saturday, April 10, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. at Kirk Funeral Home with Pastor Brent Woodard officiating. Livestream services was available on by clicking on Live Streaming. A private burial service will be held at a later date at Black Hills National Cemetery.

Family and friends may sign Gary’s online guestbook at