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Joe E. Swegarden

December 23, 1932 ~ August 9, 2018 (age 85)
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Joe E. Swegarden of Fargo, ND, formerly Casselton, ND, died Thursday evening, August 9, 2018, at Bethany on 42nd in Fargo at the age of 85, surrounded by his family.

Joe was born December 23, 1932, in Mayville, North Dakota, to Edwin and Gladys (Hayes) Swegarden. He graduated from Mayville High School in 1950, and then served four years in the United States Navy from January 1951 through December 1954. Upon discharge he returned to Mayville and served in the National Guard through 1958 while attending Mayville State Teachers College where he met the love of his life, Josephine “Jo” Rudnick of Drayton, ND.

They were married at St. Edward's Catholic Church in Drayton on August 15, 1955. The couple settled in Mayville while he finished his Bachelor's Degree in Education. While there, Joe played football for the Comets, playing center all four years and was an all-conference selection and captain his senior year. In 1956, Joe and Jo gave birth to their son Jay, and in 1957, had their second son Jon. Following Joe's graduation, the couple moved to Nome, North Dakota, and later moved to Wimbledon where their third son Jeff was born.

In the summer of 1962, they moved to Brookings, Oregon, where they both taught school and had their fourth son Jed. They then moved to Eugene, Oregon, where Joe attended the University of Oregon, graduating with his Masters Degree in Physical Education. In 1965, they moved to Florence, Oregon, where Joe continued to teach and coach track and field, basketball, and football for Siuslaw High School. It was in Florence where their fifth son, Jim, was born.

The family returned to North Dakota and settled in Casselton in the summer of 1968. Joe taught Physical Education and various other courses at Central Cass High School and was an assistant basketball coach. He was the head football coach from 1968 to 1989, and retired from teaching in 1994 to care for Jo, who had suffered a stroke. He was her devoted husband and committed caregiver for 13 years until she passed away in 2007.

His coaching career highlights included a Central Cass Squirrel 1980 State Class B Football Championship, NDHSCA 1980 Football State Coach of the Year, 1980 State Nominee for NHSACA National Coach of the Year, and a 2003 inductee to the NDHSCA Hall of Fame. Joe was an active member of the Casselton community serving as an ambulance volunteer, Community Club and Booster Club.

Joe was foremost a father, but also loved coaching, fishing, and spending as much time as he could at Lake Maud.

Joe is survived by four sons: Jon (Barb) of Fargo, ND, Jeff (Katie) of Rochester, MN, Jed (Becky) of Lake Park, MN, and Jim (Tara) of Stanley, ND and daughter-in-law Janelle of Lake Havasu, AZ. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren and one great granddaughter. He was preceded in death by his parents, his wife Josephine, and their son, Jay.

Joe’s family is grateful to Neil Litton, the staff at The Gables at Bethany on 42nd, and the Prairie Chateaux staff for their love and caring over the past 5 years. They would also like to recognize the tremendous care he received through the VA Home Based Primary Healthcare program and the VA Hospital, specifically the third-floor staff. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorials can be sent to Ethos Hospice, 3361 45th Street South, Suite 100, Fargo, ND 58104, or the Casselton Community Endowment Fund at PO Box 188, Casselton, ND, 58102 or online at

Visitation:  10AM – 11AM on Monday, August 13, 2018, in Larsen Chapel of Bethany on 42nd, Fargo, ND

Funeral: Service:  Larsen Chapel of Bethany on 42nd.   Military Honors provided by US Navy Funeral Honors Team.

Private Burial Service:  St. Leo’s Catholic Cemetery, Casselton, ND

 Joe's Service Folder

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