O’Neil D. Swanson Sr.
funeral director, founder and owner, Swanson Funeral Homes, Detroit, Michigan, died March 27, 2020, at age 86. Considered an icon among funeral directors across the country, Swanson’s funerals for such luminaries as Rosa Parks and Aretha Franklin were noted as grand affairs.
Swanson was a graduate of Central State University and then served in the U.S. military from 1953-55, receiving an honorable discharge with the rank of first lieutenant. He graduated cum laude from Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science.
In 1958 in Detroit, Swanson founded Swanson Funeral Homes Inc. As his business grew and prospered, Swanson, known not just for his business acumen but also his philanthropy, established the Swanson Foundation to fulfill a responsibility to the community by providing scholarships for the less fortunate and aiding other underserved areas.
Swanson was active in many businesses and cultural and social organizations, and his achievements have been well recognized, including the conferring of two honorary doctorate degrees by both Shaw College in Detroit and Central State University in Ohio.