Ruth Swensen Dignan

Wednesday, August 10, 2016 4:05 pm

Ruth Ellen Swensen Dignan, 75, originally of Decorah, died Aug. 4, 2016. Services are pending.

Born Oct. 14, 1940, to Ruth and Theodore Swensen, Ruth Ellen grew up to be nearly six feet tall. She was a stunning drum majorette, a homecoming queen, and an accomplished student. (Other students wanted to sit next to her because she always knew the answers.) She intended to follow her two older sisters to the University of Iowa, but when she graduated from high school she drove with her parents to visit her sister, Mary, in Vancouver, B.C., where her husband taught at the University of British Columbia. Ruth liked it so well that she stayed and enrolled in UBC. Working as a waitress on the side, one of her customers and friends was the renowned soprano, Joan Sutherland. Through contacts there she met her first husband, David Laing, with whom she had two sons, David and Joel. Later they divorced, and she lived a very diverse and creative life in New York City and the Hamptons. She worked as a copywriter, attended NYU, published poetry and became a shiatsu masseuse. In the Hamptons she met her soul mate, David Dignan, who became her second husband. When that marriage ended she moved with her sons to Encinitas, Calif., and then to a beautiful piece of property in Fallbrook, where she mingled with the wild animals and birds, and her pet cats and dogs. Eventually she became ill from multiple causes, and died Aug. 4, 2016.

She is survived by her sons and her three siblings: Bill Swensen, Mary Stroll and Alice Swensen.

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