It is with heavy hearts that we announce the passing of O’Neil D. Swanson, a Centralian, icon of black businesses, and champion for HBCUs. Here is just a small accounting of this amazing man’s life:

O’Neil D. Swanson was born in Birmingham Alabama and moved at an early age to Dayton Ohio, where he attended school and graduated as a member of the National Honor Society from the Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School. In June 1953, he graduated from Central State University, and from 1953 through 1955 served the United States as a member of the military, receiving an honorable discharge with the rank of First Lieutenant. O’Neil then continued his education at the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science, graduating cum laude in 1956, and in that same year he improved his professional status by passing the National Conference of Funeral Services Examiners Board. Two years later, O’Neil D. Swanson founded Swanson Funeral Homes, Inc. in Detroit, Michigan.

As the business grew and prospered, the Swanson Foundation was established to fullfill a responsibility to the community by providing scholarships for the less fortunate and to aid other underserved areas of the community. In addition, O’Neil has been active in many business, cultural and social organizations and his achievements have been recognized by many, including the conferring of two honorary Doctorate Degrees by both Shaw College in Detroit, Michigan and Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio.

To read more, see the Detroit News.

We will greatly miss Mr. Swanson, as will the countless students he helped achieve the dream of earning an college education.

Dr. Veronica R. Watkins
Executive Director