Mark D. Roberts

Mark D. Roberts


A Tribute to My Father-in-Law, Bill Swedberg

posted by Mark D. Roberts

Last Saturday I officiated at the memorial service for my father-in-law, Bill Swedberg. He died a couple of weeks ago at the age of 84, a victim of Parkinson’s Syndrome. The service was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, where Bill’s wife is buried (and also my father and my maternal grandparents).
Bill was able to die at home, thanks to the commitment of his children, most of all his daughter, Debbie, who cared for him for years and oversaw and contributed to his professional care in the last, difficult months. Debbie gave her dad a huge gift. I know she received much in return from this dear man.
Bill’s last act on this earth was watching on television as his beloved L.A. Dodgers won the final game of the National League Division series, sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals. I expect that Bill died a happy man. And, by God’s grace, he did not have to witness the debacle of the Dodgers versus the Phillies in the National League Championship Series. (I’m assuming that, in Heaven, you don’t get to watch your favorite teams mess up big time.)
But Bill was a happy man for much more important reasons. He grew up in Wisconsin, then in Glendale, California. He fought in World War II, in Patton’s army, where he experienced the horrors of war as well as the trial of sleeping in a foxhole in sub-zero winter temperatures. Yet such trials didn’t break Bill’s spirit. Rather, they gave him the ability to appreciate life’s gifts and never to be upset by the pains of ordinary life. It if wasn’t World War II, it wasn’t worth getting too upset about. (Like many of his generation, Bill rarely spoke of his experiences in World War II. When I asked him some detailed questions, though, he was glad to share. He served in a reconnaissance unit in Patton’s army, regularly going behind enemy lines to report on their actions and configurations. Obviously, his life was often in danger, and he saw many fellow soldiers lose their lives.)
Bill’s greatest joy in life was his family, his wife, Marion, who beat him to Heaven by a couple of decades, his four children (including my wife, Linda), and his many grandchildren. He was also an extraordinarily faithful son and son-in-law, caring for his mother until her death at 100 and his mother-in-law during her last years. (Photo: Bill with his four children and one dog.)
Bill worked as an insurance agent, but he was never much of a salesman. What he loved was being with and caring for people. Selling insurance was simply a way to support his family while he served the people in his “book” of clients.
Bill was a faithful Christian. Late in life, as his body began to fail him, he talked with great anticipation of going to Heaven to be with the Lord (and his dear wife). In fact, I have never known someone more eager to leave this life behind because of his confidence in Christ.
Bill was an exceedingly kind man. He was always good to me, beginning with our first meeting. He graciously gave his consent to my wish to marry his daughter, and became a supportive father-in-law and loving grandfather. He always showed an interest in me and my work. He even tolerated my driving, which he considered to be way too fast. (I tend to drive a little faster than the speed limit. Bill may never have hit a speed limit in his driving life.) He would often say, “Pastors always are speeders.”
As I think about Bill’s life, I’m reminded of a passage from Paul’s letter to the Colossians: “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Col 3:12). Bill Swedberg lived out these virtues more consistently than anyone I’ve known. This isn’t just a grieving son-in-law speaking or a preacher with a tendency to exaggerate. These words – “compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” – describe Bill to a T. I can’t think of a better tribute to offer him.
We who loved Bill will miss him. In truth, we began missing him a couple of years ago, when his disease slowly took him away from us. But we give thanks to God for his life well lived, as well as for his life everlasting with God.



  • http://jkfhuskersverizon.net J.Falconer

    Rev. M.Roberts & Family, Condolences to you all on the loss of your Most Beloved relative. What a moving tribute & legacy you spoke of & wrote about. Thank you for sharing his bravery, courage & faith. He is definitely in an easier, better place with some of his other Loved ones. Thank you & Linda, your wife for sharing his story. May it help & comfort others dealing with elderly, sick, fragile relatives & or beloved memories of others gone on to their heavenly rewards. Thanks again for such an inspirational moving tribute & may it provide hope to many others. j

  • Joe Arnett

    I would echo the comments of Mr. Falconer. Thanks so much for sharing with us. I think we can say that Mr. Swedberg was truly a member of “the greatest generation”.

  • Jennie

    The service was beautiful, a perfectly simple celebration of a life well lived. Thanks for sharing this tribute.

  • Paul

    Mark,
    This is really a beautiful testimony – thank you for sharing it with us.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Mark D. Roberts. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Red Letters with Tom Davis Recent prayer post on Prayables Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!  

posted 2:09:11pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? Conclusions
In this series on the death of Jesus, I have presented four different perspectives on why Jesus had to die: Roman, Jewish, Jesus’, and Early Christian. I believe that each of these points of view has merit, and that we cannot fully understand the necessity of Jesus’ death without taking them all

posted 2:47:39am Apr. 11, 2011 | read full post »

Sunday Inspiration from the High Calling
Can We Find God in the City? Psalm 48:1-14 Go, inspect the city of Jerusalem. Walk around and count the many towers. Take note of the fortified walls, and tour all the citadels, that you may describe them to future generations. For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever,

posted 2:05:51am Apr. 10, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 3
An Act and Symbol of Love Perhaps one of the most startling of the early Christian interpretations of the cross was that it was all about love. It’s easy in our day, when crosses are religious symbols, attractive ornaments, and trendy jewelry to associate the cross with love. But, in the first

posted 2:41:47am Apr. 08, 2011 | read full post »

Why Did Jesus Have to Die? The Perspective of the First Christians, Part 2
The Means of Reconciliation In my last post, I examined one of the very earliest Christian statements of the purpose of Jesus’ death. According to the tradition encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus died “for our sins in accordance with the scriptures” (15:3). Yet this text doesn’t expl

posted 2:30:03am Apr. 07, 2011 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.