Citizen Swain

Tales from a Minnesota Life

2021
Author:

Tom H. Swain
With Lori Sturdevant

PAPERBACK EDITION: JUNE 2021

An entertaining personal history of the state, told by one of its leading citizens

Tom H. Swain has been a mayor, a University of Minnesota vice president, a chief of staff to a Minnesota governor, and a member and chair of numerous nonprofit and civic boards. In his memoir Citizen Swain: Tales from a Minnesota Life, he eloquently relates his vibrant presence and meaningful contributions, giving readers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of institutions and their leaders.

"Tom H. Swain is the quintessential Minnesotan. He sallies forth through the ups and downs of life with his unique brand of unflappable, straightforward, and mission-oriented character. His gifts of old-fashioned honor, abiding wisdom, endurance, and a genuine love of people are evident in these stories, always told in his clear and unpretentious voice."—George Latimer

For an insider’s take on the past eighty years in Minnesota history, sit down with Tom H. Swain’s memoir. It is a personal look at the people and events that shaped the state, written by a civic and business leader—and a true public servant—with a genuine knack for telling a story. From business to athletics, politics to education, Swain is a key player. He’s been a mayor, a University of Minnesota vice president, a chief of staff to former Minnesota governor Elmer L. Andersen, and a member and chair of numerous nonprofit and civic boards. In Citizen Swain: Tales from a Minnesota Life, he eloquently relates his vibrant presence and meaningful contributions, giving readers a rare glimpse into the inner workings of institutions and their leaders.

Swain was more than a witness to state history: he helped make it happen. Readers learn what it was like to be a part of Governor Andersen’s administration—including details about the dramatic vote recount that ended his term. Swain’s dedication to education and sports shine through as he speaks of his service at the University of Minnesota. Over the years in positions ranging from ticket manager in the athletic department to vice president, Swain knew Gopher coach Bernie Bierman and three University of Minnesota presidents—Nils Hasselmo, Mark Yudof, and Robert Bruininks. Twenty-three years at the St. Paul Companies gave him profound insight into the state’s oldest corporation.

Whether he’s describing the hard work behind the scenes of the massive civic celebration of the state’s centennial or growing up in 1930s and 1940s Minneapolis, Swain’s passion for making Minnesota a better place comes through in these remembrances, told with warmth, respect, and not a small amount of wit. Citizen Swain will be an inspiration to anyone seeking to make positive change through active citizenship.

Tom H. Swain has a résumé, stretching back six decades, full of notable contributions to higher education, politics, corporate affairs, and health care. He is the recipient of numerous local and national awards, including an honorary doctor of law degree from the University of Minnesota, an award from the National Governors Association, and an Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota.

Lori Sturdevant is an editorial writer and columnist for the Minneapolis–St. Paul Star Tribune. Her many book collaborations include A Man’s Reach by former Minnesota governor Elmer L. Andersen (Minnesota, 2000). She is the author of Her Honor: Rosalie Wahl and the Minnesota Women’s Movement and The Pillsburys of Minnesota.

Tom H. Swain is the quintessential Minnesotan. He sallies forth through the ups and downs of life with his unique brand of unflappable, straightforward, and mission-oriented character. His gifts of old-fashioned honor, abiding wisdom, endurance, and a genuine love of people are evident in these stories, always told in his clear and unpretentious voice.

George Latimer

It’s hard to imagine how many lives Tom H. Swain has touched through his civic and volunteer activities. Citizen Swain is a fitting tribute to a great Minnesotan.

Peter Pearson, President, The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library

Tom H. Swain shows by example how one person can make a positive difference in people’s lives and in Minnesota history. He has worked hard to leave the campsite better for the next group of citizen adventurers.

Dave Metzen

Swain’s observations, and more important, the example of his exemplary life should command our attention.

Star Tribune

Contents



Foreword: A Life of Service


Lori Sturdevant


1. “Miss Pep”


2. Student Days


3. Staff Sergeant Swain


4. Back to Campus


5. Mac


6. Holman Field


7. Ticket Man


8. Come to St. Paul


9. A Royal Kiss


10. Floyd and Judy at the Centennial


11. The Wager


12. Showboat


13. Skål, Vikings—and Stay, Twins


14. Elmer for Governor


15. Right Hand to the Governor


16. Recount


17. Insurance Man


18. Minnesota’s Favorite Son


19. St. Paul School Independence


20. Missing in Action


21. DARE


22. “Don’t Leave Home without It”


23. Insurance Encore


24. Health Reformer


25. Gopher Tales


26. Questions


27. Still a Republican


28. Show ’Em the Money


29. Mr. Mayor


30. Things Change


31. Millie’s Ashes


32. All in the Family


33. On Leadership


Chronology


Index