If how you touch the lives of other people is in any a measure of a good life, then Swanson Funeral Home founder O’Neil D. Swanson lived a good life and we are all the better for it.

O’Neil D. Swanson, Founder of Swanson Funeral Homes

In 1958 the first Swanson Funeral Home Chapel was opened on East Grand Boulevard, with the pledge to provide superior service to all who walked through his door. Wealthy or poor O’Neil Swanson made sure that if you entrusted his funeral home with your loved one, you were going to get top of the line service.

This story also appeared in DPTV - American Black Journal

Across the country, Swanson was viewed as a legend among his fellow funeral directors, and his funeral services for national figures such as Rosa Parks and Aretha Franklin were seen as elegant affairs befitting a head of state.

He also made his presence known in the Detroit business community as a leader supporting charitable organizations, businesses and providing scholarships to young people in need; it was noted that Swanson never lost touch with the lives of the people in his community, never missing an opportunity to share and teach when given the opportunity.

In 1970 O’Neil Swanson’s leadership and commitment to the betterment of his community was on full display as a founding director of First Independence Bank, the only African American-owned bank headquartered in the State of Michigan.

Yes, O’Neil Swanson lived a good life and evidence of that life is all around us, we are all saddened by the passing of this extraordinary man, and grateful for the life he lived.

Stephen Henderson is the Founding Editor of BridgeDetroit, and a former writer and editor for the Detroit Free Press, Baltimore Sun and Chicago Tribune. Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary,...

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