~ IN MEMORY ~
Bette Swenson, widow of NWA Capt. Chet Swenson
April 3, 1924 ~ May 30, 2018
Notification with the passing of Bette Swenson, widow of Northwest pilot Captain Chester ‘Chet’ Swenson who passed in 2010. Both obituaries appear below. To view Bette’s obituary online please visit
Bette’s obituary notes that no services are planned.
~ Carol for the PCN
Bette Darlene Swenson Together Again Age 94,
died peacefully on May 30th, 2018 at her adult care home in Bothell, WA. Born on April 3, 1924 to Odean and Mildred (Quimby) Jerlow in Huron, South Dakota, she lived and worked on the family farm with her three younger brothers near Carthage. After high school graduation she attended college briefly in Estherville, Iowa. Bette later moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, where she worked in a munitions factory supporting the war effort. It was here she met her future husband, Chester Swenson, after his discharge as a pilot from the Army Air Corps. They married in October of 1945 and were together for 65 years until his passing in 2010. Chet was hired by Northwest Airlines in 1945 and moving the family every few years soon became a way of life. Chet was based in St. Paul, Seattle, Spokane, and Seattle once again. The family moved to Tacoma in 1961 and soon became involved with the Fircrest Golf Club and Fircrest Swim Team. Although Bette had her hands full raising three boys while her husband was often away on long trips, she still found time to chaperone for the Daffodil Festival and loved taking ";her girls"; around Tacoma for their appearances. A fantastic cook, she loved cooking for her sons and their friends from the neighborhood, sports teammates and fraternity brothers. When the boys were grown and gone she turned her culinary skills to the grandkids with sumptuous main dishes, casseroles, cakes and pies. Shortly after Chet retired, they bought a seaworthy trawler, christened her the Option B, and enjoyed cruising Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands with family and friends. In her later years she and Chet enjoyed many winters in the Arizona sun. Bette had a wonderful sweet nature, a caring disposition, and a positive attitude. Her tough South Dakota roots and deep faith enabled her to survive three bouts of cancer over the years. She will be greatly missed by friends and family in Minnesota, South Dakota, Washington and Arizona. She is survived by her sons Gary (Sally), Craig, Dave (Jill) and grandchildren: Jamie, Sam, Davy (Jake) Goetze, Brooke, Heather (Trevor) Uhler and Luke, and eight great grandchildren. A special thank you to Blueberry Gardens Senior Care of Bothell who provided superb care and friendship to Bette for the past five and a half years. No service is planned at this time.
Obituary Capt. Chet Swenson..............Chester H. Swenson
March 15, 1922 ~ Aug. 21, 2010
On August 21, 2010 we lost another hero from our greatest generation. While in the hospital recovering from a fall, Chester H. Swenson died peacefully in his sleep. Chet was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin to Archie and Florence Swenson. He grew up in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and attended the University of Minnesota for one year. The winds of war changed his focus from college to aviation, and he traveled to Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, planning to become an aircraft mechanic. But the attack on Pearl Harbor altered his training from repairing planes to flying them, and he completed his flight school training in 1943. He was sent to the Pacific and became part of the 405th squadron of the 38th Bomb Group. Chet saw action in the Northern Solomon Islands, New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago and the Philippines. As a Captain in the famous "Green Dragon" squadron, he flew 74 missions in a B-25 Mitchell and was awarded the Air Medal. After his honorable discharge in 1945, he returned to Minnesota where he met the love of his life, Bette D. Jerlow, and they were married later that year. Shortly thereafter, he was hired by Northwest Airlines as a co-pilot. His career took the family from St. Paul to Seattle, Spokane, and finally, Tacoma in 1961. His career with Northwest spanned 37 years and he piloted just about every aircraft in their inventory: the DC-3, DC- 6 and DC-7, L-188 Electra, L-1049 Constellation, and the Boeing 707 and 727. He retired a senior 747 pilot in 1982, highly respected by his peers. He was a member of the Fircrest Golf Club and volunteered for the Fircrest and Tacoma Swim Clubs. Moving from Captain of the sky to Captain of the water, he purchased a 38 foot trawler and he and Bette and family roamed Puget Sound, the San Juans and Canadian waters in the beloved Option B. They also enjoyed traveling to Arizona in the winter and had many friends in Mesa and Scottsdale. Chet had a generous spirit and was a friend to many. He lived his life with grace, honor and dignity. We will miss him every day and he will live in our hearts forever. Although Chet never considered himself a hero, to his family he was. He is survived by Bette, his wife of 65 years, his sister Sylvia Nelson, and sons Gary (Sally), Craig and Dave (Jill). Grandchildren include Jamie, Sam, Davy (Jake), Heather (Trevor), Brooke and Luke. Great-granddaughters are Rubie and Paisley. Chet's remains will be interred at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington, in a private family ceremony. A public celebration of Chet's life will be held Sunday, Sept. 19 at 3 p.m. at the Fircrest Golf Club in Tacoma, Washington.