Cover photo for Joseph Arthur Swanson's Obituary
Joseph Arthur Swanson Profile Photo

Joseph Arthur Swanson

December 14, 1940 — October 3, 2023


Joseph Arthur Swanson

Joseph Arthur Swanson, 82, passed away on Tuesday, October 3, 2023 in Madison, Wisconsin. Joseph was born December 14, 1940, in Los Angeles, California, to Arthur and Bernice (Moran) Swanson. He earned his undergraduate degree summa cum laude in Economics & History, 1964, and a Ph.D. Economics, 1968, from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He met his wife Lucia at the University of Wisconsin when they were undergraduates, and they were married on August 21,1965. Lucia passed away in 2016.

Joseph was on the faculty at Purdue University 1967-1969, at the University of Iowa 1970-1974, and at Northwestern University 1975-1987, where he was a professor at the Kellogg School of Management. He taught courses in microeconomic theory, econometrics, time series analysis, corporate financial management, securities analysis, quantitative models of financial market performance, due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, and project finance.

After leaving the full-time faculty of Northwestern in 1987, he joined the Chicago Corporation where he organized a transportation research, trading and corporate finance team, specializing in the public offerings of the truckload transportation sector, then moved to CalFed as Senior Vice President for Corporate Development. In 1991 he and Lucia returned to Wisconsin, where he was founder and CEO of Jos. Swanson & Co. in Racine, which specialized in transportation solutions for corporate clients. He continued to teach at the Kellogg School as an adjunct professor until 2007.

He served on many corporate boards of directors, and served a six-year term as trustee of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Board of Pensions.

He had a deep-seated love of trains and rail transport, and could inform anyone of the route details and timetables for any train he observed, freight or otherwise, with near perfect accuracy. He enjoyed many years of vacationing on the North Shore of Lake Superior with his family, fly fishing in Montana, bird hunting with his labrador retrievers in the fields of Southeast Wisconsin, and photography as well. He loved to cook and grill, and enthusiastically shared recipes with his friends and family on a regular basis. He shared his love of sports with his family and was an avid fan of his Northwestern Wildcats.

Joseph is survived by his children, Jeffrey (Kelly) Swanson of Portland, Oregon and Ingrid Swanson Phelan and his granddaughters, Maeve Anna Phelan (21) and Malin Stella Phelan (18) of Princeton, New Jersey. His granddaughters brought him great joy, and he bestowed upon them beloved nicknames and enjoyed sharing family history and many tales of his youth with them.

A memorial service will be held at Bethel Lutheran Church, 312 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison, WI on Saturday, January 20, 2024 at 1:00pm. The family asks that memorial remembrances on behalf of Joseph be made to the Northwestern Undergraduate Scholarship fund.


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