Joan Swanson

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Joan Faye Swanson, nee Ziegler, 85, of Smithton, IL, born May 18, 1936, in Ludlow, KY, passed away Sunday, February 27, 2022, surrounded by her family.

Joan graduated from high school in Moultrie, GA, then continued her education becoming a Registered Nurse. She later earned her BS from The College of Saint Francis. Joan began her nursing career at Carle Clinic, later moving to Belleville, IL, accepting a position with St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in the Operating Room. While the operating room was her first love, she decided to take on a managerial position. Some would say that she “was a force to be reckoned with.” She was very proud of the OR and spoke highly of everyone she worked with, and Joan was highly respected by the staff and surgeons. During her time at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Joan designed and opened the surgical suites, moving surgery to the new wing. She also opened the outpatient surgery department and testing center and started the open-heart surgery program. She was one of the first regional members and a past president of the AORN (Association of Operating Room Nurses). She was tenacious, persistent, and determined to make the OR one of the best. After 30+ years, she ended her career as Director of Surgical Services at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. One of Joan’s retirement highlights was getting together with lifelong friends “the gang” from St Elizabeth’s for their monthly outings.

In addition, retirement offered her and Mel time to travel and enjoy Florida’s warm weather, calling it home for ten years. Due to health concerns with Mel and “Grammie” missing her grandchildren, the two moved back to Smithton, IL.

To know Joan, you knew her mental, physical, and emotional strength. She was a rock—a warrior. Not one to tell but show her love for her friends and family. We are grateful to have had a mother that enjoyed spending time with her grandchildren, enjoying life events, playing cards, making trips to the casino, and watching her St. Louis Cardinals.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, Melvin G. Swanson, whom she married on May 13, 1958, and who died on April 29, 2013; her parents, Phillip and Marjorie, nee Cunningham, Ziegler; and two brothers, Phillip “Jerry” (Janet) Ziegler and James “Marty” Ziegler, and a grandson Joshua Rodriguez.

Surviving are three daughters and a son, Elizabeth Swanson, Lori (Mark) Rodriguez, John “Kelly” Swanson, and Lisa (Kevin) Sisk; a stepdaughter, Melodie Swanson; eight grandchildren, Jacob (Gwen) Rodriguez, Joel (Caitlin) Rodriguez, Joan Rodriguez, Jenna Rodriguez, Kourtney (Terry Umphrey) Sisk, Ryan (Brooke) Sisk, Matthew Sisk, and Dakota Swanson; three great-grandchildren, Jett, Tess, and Scout; two brothers, Mike (Jan) Ziegler, and Robert “Bobby” Ziegler; a sister-in-law, Jill Ziegler; many nieces and nephews; and her loving pets, Bella, Rosie, and Dolly.

Memorials may be made to the Belleville Area Humane Society or St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Smithton, IL. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at

Visitation:  Friends may visit from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL.

Funeral: Funeral services will be held at 7 p.m.  Tuesday, March 8, 2022, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL, with Fr. Stan Konieczny officiating.

Private burial will be at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, MO, at a later date.


17 Comments on Joan Swanson

Nanette Grosse said : Guest Report Mar 08, 2022 at 3:59 PM

Joan was the best supervisor I had,in my 36 years at St"Elizabeth’s "in fact if it wasn’t for Joan,i would not have become a nurse. I’m so sure she had a glorious reunion when she arrived in heaven "God bless Joan’s soul, and my deepest condolences to the Swanson family.

  • Waterloo
  • Il
Carol Rank said : Guest Report Mar 08, 2022 at 9:15 AM

So sorry for your Mother's passing. My prayers are with you all during this time.

  • Smithton
  • Illinois
Cheryl Glamm said : Guest Report Mar 07, 2022 at 4:09 PM

My sincere condolences to Joan's family for your tremendous loss. I had the privilege of hearing lots of great stories about Joan over many years from her daughter Beth. I almost felt like I knew her and am very sorry we never met in person. My thoughts are with you all.

  • San Antonio
  • TX
Karen Middendorf said : Guest Report Mar 07, 2022 at 11:32 AM

Joan was an amazing operating room supervisor. She had the respect of the staff and surgeons. It was because of Joan’s guidance and love of the OR that made the staff want to work hard and take pride in that work. She instilled in us a great work ethic, which we have carried with us throughout our careers. She encouraged all of us to join our nursing organizations to stay current in our field. Whenever I saw her in recent years, I would tell her what a great boss she was! May she rest in peace!

  • Freeburg
  • Illinois
Carol Cange said : Guest Report Mar 06, 2022 at 10:52 AM

I worked with Joan for 19 years! It was challenging and an honor. She was always fair when dealing with people. It was amazing how she and Lillis Schott could cajole the doctors to their way! She was a great lady and well respected! My prayers for her and her family.

  • Nashvile
  • IL
Denise M. DeBoe said : Guest Report Mar 05, 2022 at 3:55 PM

Joan Swanson's obituary was very well stated. My mother Hattie R. DeBoe was also a long time employee of St. Elizabeth's Hospital. Joan was her Supervisor in the operating room. My mother spoke of positive things of Joan and how she made positive movements, and gained respect within the operating room department for all of her employees. And yes my mother also spoke of the "gang." They all were good working coworkers who always add pot lucks and shared many recipes. Joan was a strong woman with a good heart and truely loved her family. Joan Swanson, beautiful angel fly high. I am sure you and my mother will reconcile with laughter on good memories. High Prayers are Up for you Joan and a Circle of Prayers Around Your beautiful family. Joan you have completed your job and more. You set memories in everyone in your families hearts. Extending Condolences and Sympathy from the DeBoe Family. Rest Peacefully Joan, Eternally.

  • Belleville
  • Illinois
Marcia and Matt Wever said : Guest Report Mar 05, 2022 at 2:01 PM

Lori, we were so sorry to hear of your loss. Please know our thoughts are with you and your whole family.

  • Maplewood
  • MO
Mary and Gary McNelly said : Guest Report Mar 04, 2022 at 10:21 PM

So sorry for the loss of your Mother/Mother in law. Prayers for you and your family during this difficult time. May sweet memories help you heal.

  • Fairview Heights
  • IL
David Poynor said : Guest Report Mar 04, 2022 at 7:14 PM

Prayers for strength and peace

  • Murray
  • Ky
Ron said : Guest Report Mar 04, 2022 at 3:56 PM

My sympathy to John and his family.

  • Belleville
  • Illinois
Debi Boeving said : Guest Report Mar 03, 2022 at 1:20 PM

Lori, Mark And Family: So very sorry to hear of your moms passing.

  • Smithton
  • IL
Carole Smith said : Guest Report Mar 03, 2022 at 1:16 PM

JoAnn will be remembered as a very special person heaven sent to fill some needs in multiple lives. She was a God given leader and very human friend. Thank Goodness for her! Rest in peace.

  • Tehachapi
  • California
Elaine Rogers said : Guest Report Mar 03, 2022 at 9:01 AM

Kelly - so sorry for your loss. She sounds like an amazing woman. You’re in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Belleville
  • IL
Cindy Hamilton Kaemmerer said : Guest Report Mar 02, 2022 at 10:00 PM

Sending love and prayers to all the Swanson clan with fondest memories of mama Joan. She was definitely a force to be reckoned with but I felt her love and kindness every time I was around her, and I was around her a lot!

  • San Diego
  • CA
Chris Fournie said : Guest Report Mar 02, 2022 at 8:54 PM

My condolences on the loss of your mother. I had the pleasure of working with her at St. E’s. She was a tremendous nurse and leader.

  • O’Fallon
  • IL
Sheila Cope said : Guest Report Mar 02, 2022 at 7:49 PM

This is a beautiful obituary for a lady who I was proud to call my boss. RIP Joan

  • Swansea
  • IL said : Guest Report Mar 02, 2022 at 6:13 PM

Great person to work under I respected her and her authority prayers to Her family

  • Alhambra
  • Il

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