Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

April 11, 2013

Swensen Memorials marks 100 years

TRAVERSE CITY — Swensen Memorials is celebrating a monumental anniversary.

Founded by Norwegian immigrant Johannes Swensen, the company’s doors opened in 1913.

“The memorials were all hand carved, the large ones delivered by horse and pulley,” said manager Christine Torrey. “Now the designs and sandblasting are all done with the help of a computer.”

Swensen originally established his home and business in Manistee, going on to open five locations including the one in Traverse City. Swensen’s daughters, Marion and Grace, continued with their father’s business until the mid-1980s when Marion’s son and daughter-in-law, John and Leslye Wuerfel, took it over.

Torrey’s parents, David and Nancy Sietsema, bought Swensen Memorials 15 years ago. They also own Superior Monument Co. in Muskegon and Grand Haven.

“Our family has been in the monument business for 52 years, so it seemed natural to take over another family business when my father suggested buying the Traverse City location,” said Torrey, who works alongside her husband, Pete, at Swensen Memorials.

The couple had always wanted to work together. Being able to share their passion about caring for people going through a vulnerable time has been an added blessing, they said.

“I know what it meant to me when people reached out to me at a time of loss,” Pete said. “They are so appreciative of being treated with kindness.”

In addition to granite gravestones, Swensen Memorials has expanded to include more memorial markers and signs.

“With more people choosing cremation, a special place to remember your loved one can be anywhere,” Christine said. “We work with families to make something that is special and unique for that person.”

Swensen Memorials is located at 806 Hastings St. in Traverse City. For more information, call 943-8777.



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