Cover photo for John S. Swanberg's Obituary
John S. Swanberg Profile Photo

John S. Swanberg

December 7, 1960 — December 6, 2022

“We are born. We die.  It’s what we do in between that counts.”

It is with profound sadness that the family of John Scott Swanberg announce his peaceful passing on December 6, 2022 following a courageous battle against cancer. 

John was born on December 7, 1960, in Providence, RI, to Barbara (Campbell) Swanberg and John E. Swanberg. He grew up in Lincoln, RI, and had many fond memories of time spent in the Great Road neighborhood, summer days on Rhode Island’s many beaches, and excursions to Salisbury, NH, with his loving family. He graduated from Lincoln High school where he played, for a short time, nose guard on the football team. When asked why he played guard, his reply was often that he was the biggest—but definitely not the fastest. He went on to study Animal Science at the University of Maine Orono, taking a particular interest in ruminant nutrition and dairy science. Upon graduation with highest honors, John went to work for Agway in upstate New York, but an opportunity to work as a dairy farmer brought him back to Maine soon thereafter. While the opportunity was short-lived, it filled a box he seemed determined to check.

A proud UMaine Black Bear, he returned to the University once again to pursue advance degrees in Agricultural Economics and Finance, which led him to a position at Farm Credit in Presque Isle. He quickly gained the confidence of his customers and took pride in helping farmers and their families.

Most everyone in the County, however, knew John as the President of Aroostook County Federal Savings and Loan (AS&L), where he worked for nearly 30 years up until his passing. He considered it the honor of his life to serve the community as a local lender. John took joy in opening a savings account with a young person, assisting a young couple through the process of financing their first home, and personally helping someone fulfill their dream of owning a business. He loved it all. His passion for the slogan, “Helping your friends and neighbors since 1936,” was evident as he worked tirelessly to make AS&L a bank that truly served the needs of the County. 

While his many longstanding relationships with the bank’s customers were deeply important to him, John considered his AS&L staff to be family.  He loved being part of their lives, through good times and bad. John was so proud of their efforts when, in the last year, he needed them to step up and carry on the mission of the bank as he focused on the fight of his life battling cancer.

Over the years, John served on a wide array of committees and boards, driven by purpose of service to the community. He was a proud member of Caribou Rotary and a Paul Harris Fellow. He was a member of several committees working to fuel new business development in the area and served on the boards of Pines Health Services, Caribou Utilities District, and Facilities Inc. among others.

He was also a founding member of Northern Maine Brewing Company. While the final product was great-tasting beer, like so much of his life’s work, the pub was a way for John to highlight the best parts of the County, using local ingredients, talent, and money to light an ember that could turn into something far bigger. 

Above all, his greatest pride was his family. He met the love of his life, Andrea, at UMO, and they were married in 1983 in an epic wedding and reception. Not so epic, however, was their honeymoon on Prince Edward Island. The Peter Pan Motel with the Captain Hook Lounge and Tinkerbell Restaurant, found through John’s AAA Guide, were less than stellar, but all they could afford, and have become a favorite family joke.

John went on to be a wonderful father to his three sons, Ian, Seth, and Caleb, who each made him incredibly proud in their own unique ways. Throughout their lives, John taught his sons countless skills, from how to swing a hammer and back up a trailer to tying a neck tie. They were lifelong recipients of what came to be known as the “John Swanberg Lecture Series,” which was a collection of important lessons covering topics from problem-solving and self-sufficiency to finance and professional development that John wanted to impart on his sons (among the many others the lecture series eventually spread to). His sons will miss his guiding influence, but John was confident in the skills and lessons he taught them. He knew Ian, Seth, and Caleb would have each other to lean upon and ask advice of in the years to come in the John Swanberg tradition.

Beyond his three boys, he was happy to welcome their wives, Jill, Lisa, and Melissa, into the family, learning much from each of the three and being so thankful to have all of them back in the state of Maine. And while John was an old hand at raising boys, he quickly learned to be a “girl granddad” as his first three grandchildren were all girls. He cherished snuggling with Rosie, watching Maddie dance, chasing Lucie, fostering James’ love of trucks, and looking into Anna’s expressive eyes. Time spent with them was always treasured, especially sitting around the Irvine Cove campfire, sharing s’mores, stories, and laughs. His family is looking forward to many years of continuing these gatherings at the new post and beam camp he designed and built with help from his friends.  

John had many hobbies: gardening, beef cattle, timber framing, preservation of old barns, woodworking, and fly fishing. Some of his fondest memories are of putting in his kayak at the bridge and paddling to the farm, a trip he shared with many friends over the years. 

There are many medical professionals and hospital staff who had a hand in his care during this journey, and John wanted to thank them for their efforts, particularly: Dr. Andrew Rogers along with Heidi, Lisa, and Jamie of MaineHealth Cancer Care, who were incredibly dedicated to his fight; the entire 7th floor staff of Maine Medical Center, who were kind and caring; the team at Jefferson Cary Cancer Center, who stepped in to deliver treatments while John was at home; and Amy from Professional Home Nursing, who always arrived at the house wearing her angel wings and left covered in dog fur. 

John leaves behind a large family that will carry on his memory for decades to come: his wife, Andrea; son, Ian, and his wife, Jill; son, Seth, his wife, Lisa, and their two children, James and Annalise; son, Caleb, his wife, Melissa, and their three children, Rosalie, Madeleine, and Lucille; brother, James (“Jimmy”), and his wife, Vicky; sister, Jennifer; sister, Kristen, and her husband, Mike; his brothers- and sisters-in-law on the Irvine side, Butch and Gayle, Angela, and Andrew and Elizabeth; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He also leaves behind a bank staff that was like family, a circle of friends that was wide and welcoming, and a community that will miss his commitment and leadership, but is stronger now because he lived in it.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, December 13, from 5:00pm to 8:00pm at the Caribou Ski Building at Caribou High School.

John’s funeral will be held on Wednesday, December 14, at 11:00am at Gray Memorial Methodist Church in Caribou.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Aroostook Savings & Loan Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to make charitable contributions that will strengthen and improve the quality of life for the citizens of Aroostook County. Donations can be sent to Aroostook Savings & Loan, Attn: Vicki Keaton, PO Box 808, Caribou, ME 04736.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of John S. Swanberg, please visit our flower store.

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