Dennis D. Swenson died attempting to save Dorothy H. Swenson from burning, Cornucopia, Wisconsin, May 1, 2015. At night, Dorothy, 95, was inside the one-story house she shared with her son, Dennis, 62, campground operator, after a fire broke out in the basement and spread. Dennis became alerted to the fire and was seen outside the house by a responding neighbor using a fire extinguisher against flames that were issuing from underneath the porch. Taking a second fire extinguisher with him, Dennis entered the structure, telling the neighbor he was going to get his mother. Flames grew quickly to engulf the house, and he was not seen again. Responding firefighters found the bodies of Dennis and Dorothy in one of the bedrooms of the house. They had succumbed to effects of the fire.
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Dennis Duane Swenson, 62, of Cornucopia, Wis., died May 1, 2015, attempting to save his mother from a house fire. He was born to Arvid and Dorothy (Anderson) Swenson on Dec. 31, 1952, in Ashland, Wis.
Swenson was a 1971 graduate of South Shore High School in Port Wing, Wis. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Superior with a degree in psychology, then earned a master’s degree in theological studies.
Swenson and his mother co-owned and operated tourist cottages on the Siskiwit River. Swenson also enjoyed working with 4-H and fishing.
In recognition of his efforts to try to save his mother, the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission posthumously awarded Swenson the Carnegie Medal in December 2016. His mother also died in the fire.
Swenson had been an emergency medical technician for South Shore Ambulance in Herbster, Wis., for 27 years. He carried his pager wherever he went, Patti Stemwedel, service director for the organization, told the Duluth (Minn.) News Tribune, for a May 2015 story.
“He cared deeply about people,” Stemwedel added. “He couldn’t have stood by and watched someone suffer without doing something.”
Swenson was buried at the Kishwaukee Cemetery in Stillman Valley, Ill.
(Edited from an obituary published on the website for the Bratley Family Funeral Homes in Washburn, Ill.)