The Hartley Sentinel-The Everly/Royal News - Serving O'Brien & Clay Counties

Shirley J. Dahnke-Swanson, 84, Elkhorn, Wis.


November 18, 2021

Shirley Jean Dahnke-Swanson was born April 26, 1937 in Sutherland. Shirley attended grade school in Sutherland and in country schools south of Hartley. She graduated from Hartley High School in 1955 and attended Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, majoring in Education.

Shirley accepted a fourth grade teaching position in Primghar where she taught until 1959. On June 14, 1959, Shirley married Gary Swanson and began their 62-plus year life as one. They moved from Spencer to Vermillion, S.D. where Shirley taught fourth and third grades while Gary went to school. Their first child, Mark, was born in Missoula, Mont. Shirley worked at KWSO TV as a producer and took care of Mark and Gary.

In 1961, the family moved to Park Forest, Ill. and then to Wheaton, Ill. Shirley worked as a substitute teacher and then accepted a position as editor of the Student American Medical Association (SAMA) professional journal.

The family moved to Elkhorn, Wis. in 1975. Shirley and Gary started a medical products testing laboratory for manufacturers of medical products. Shirley was an active partner in the laboratory business. They welcomed a second child in 1977. Together, Shirley and Gary operated three family-owned corporations over the next 45 years.

Shirley, the daughter of Irvin Dahnke and Lizzie Wittrock-Dahnke, passed away Friday, Nov. 12, 2021 following a short illness. Shirley previously lost both of her parents; her sister, Phyllis; and brother-in-law, Elfred Eifert.

Shirley leaves two children: Mark, of Elkhorn, Wis .; and Louis [nee: Lisa] (Kris), of Okinawa, Japan; and her husband of 62 years to mourn her passing and miss her forever.

A memorial service was held Wednesday, Nov. 17, at the Haase-Lockwood & Associates Funeral Home and Crematory in Elkhorn, Wis. with Pastor Tom DeGroot officiating. Graveside services will be held Thursday, Nov. 18 at Pleasant View Cemetery in Hartley. On-line guest registry is at


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