Barbara Melaas-Swanson


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Posted Online: March 01, 2012, 6:42 pm
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The Rev. Dr. Barbara J. Melaas-Swanson, 51, of Port Byron, died Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012, at her home after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 3, at First Lutheran Church, 114 E. Main St., Geneseo. Visitation will be held from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. today at Messiah Lutheran Church, 302 11th St. N., Port Byron, and from 9 a.m. until the time of service Saturday at First Lutheran Church. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Messiah Lutheran Church or Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (Pancan.org).

The former Barbara J. Melaas was born March 27, 1960, in Decorah, Iowa, the daughter of Ira Joseph Jr. and Alice J. Logemann Melaas. She graduated from Rock Island High School in 1978, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, in 1982, and from the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pa., in 1986, where she met her future husband. Barbara then attended Durham University in England for her doctoral studies and received her Ph.D. in church history in 1993. She was united in marriage to the Rev. Wayne Swanson on Oct. 6, 1990, at St. James Lutheran Church in Rock Island, and they spent the first three years of their married life in England. While in England, she served as an assistant pastor at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, chaplain at the University of Durham and also worked at the Lutheran Student Chaplaincy Center, where she administered scholarships for overseas students on behalf of the Lutheran World Federation.

Upon returning to the U.S., she served at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Romeoville, Ill., and began her part-time teaching career in religious studies at the University of St. Francis in Joliet, Ill. Her next call was to First Lutheran Church in Geneseo, where she served as associate pastor with her husband, from 1997-2000. During that time, she began teaching for Western Illinois University. The couple moved to Port Byron in November 2000, where she has served as co-pastor with her husband at Messiah Lutheran Church. She also taught as a part-time assistant professor in the Department of Religion at Augustana College in Rock Island.

Barbara loved spending time with her family and especially enjoyed attending her children's activities. She had a passion for travel and had a special place in her heart for England and her friends there. She also enjoyed music and gardening and loved to go on long walks. Barbara touched the lives of the many people she encountered along her life's journeys and was blessed with so many special friends.

Survivors include her husband, Rev. Wayne Melaas-Swanson, Port Byron; children, Daniel and Kirsten Melaas-Swanson, Port Byron; mother, Alice Melaas, Rock Island; sisters (and their spouses), Kristine Melaas Merkel (Keith Merkel), Marshfield, Wis., and Kari Melaas (Tony Owings), Roseville, Calif.; mother-in-law, Janet Swanson, Oxnard, Calif.; brothers-in-law, Kenneth Swanson, San Jose, Calif., and Brian (Erin) Swanson, Santa Clarita, Calif.; and nieces, Emily and Hanna Merkel and Katelyn (Binbin) Owings. She was preceded in death by her father, Ira Joseph Melaas Jr.; brother, Thomas Joseph Melaas; and father-in-law, Vernie Swanson.

Online condolences may be left at www.gibsonfuneralhomes.com.














 



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  Today is Wednesday, April 23, the 113th day of 2014. There are 252 days left in the year.

1864 — 150 years ago: Some persons are negotiating for 80 feet of ground on Illinois Street with a view of erecting four stores thereon. It would serve a better purpose if the money was invested in neat tenement houses.
1889 — 125 years ago: The Central station, car house and stables of the Moline-Rock Island Horse Railway line of the Holmes syndicate, together with 15 cars and 42 head of horses, were destroyed by fire. The loss was at $15,000.
1914 — 100 years ago: Vera Cruz, Mexico, after a day and night of resistance to American forces, gradually ceased opposition. The American forces took complete control of the city.
1939 — 75 years ago: Dr. R. Bruce Collins was reelected for a second term as president of the Lower Rock Island County Tuberculosis Association.
1964 — 50 years ago: Work is scheduled to begin this summer on construction of a new men's residence complex and an addition to the dining facilities at Westerlin Hall at Augustana College.
1989 — 25 years ago: Special Olympics competitors were triple winners at Rock Island High School Saturday. The participants vanquished the rain that fell during the competition, and some won their events; but most important, they triumphed over their own disabilities.




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