Golden Wedding Anniversary’s mark a huge lifetime family achievement! Add fifteen years to that and you have a phenomenal accomplishment of family proportions. So it was last week as friends and family of Van and Clare Swan gathered to honor the couple and all their accomplishments to our community. “I was nineteen and he was twenty and he had to ask his Mom if we could get married,” teased Clare in an interview, “If my grandkids today wanted to marry at that young age I would be horrified.” Van chimed in, “I was in the Army and she was babysitting across the street from where I was staying and she turned my eye I’ll tell you that. Getting married seemed like a good idea at the time and well it seemed to have worked out,” laughed Van.
Asked for advice to couples who have trouble staying wed for 6 years let along 65, Clare said, “Being married I think is the hardest work you’ll ever do. Really! But it’s one day at a time and you never think about how long it’ll work out because it was taken for granted you’d stay together. Someone once said that divorce wasn’t an option and it just wasn’t,” said Clare. “It’s about trust and tolerance,” added Van.
How many little Swan’s are there 65 years later, “I think we have nine grandkids and ten great grandkids, I’m not sure he’s the one that keeps track of that,” said Clare. “He’s getting easier to live with these days, in the beginning he was awful,” she laughed, “One of the favorite things we do now is argue about politics and do crossword puzzles and games.” Looking to the future Clare said, “There’s a lot going on today but to me the most important thing is to realize that you can be anything you want to be by simply being who you are and using your skills to live in today’s world. I’m optimistic about the future, but it’ll take hard work,” said Clare.
In reflecting about her parents Bunny Swan-Gease said, “Van and Clare Swan joined their lives together on August 3, 1950. Now celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary, Corporal Van Burien Swan was stationed in Anchorage, Alaska with the U.S. Army. Clare Swan, born and raised on the Kenai Peninsula, was bright and forward thinking about their future together. They raised four children – Rusty, Boots, Bunny and Jeff.
Clare is now an honored Elder for her accomplishments of leadership with the Kenaitze Indian Tribe IRA, Cook Inlet Region Incorporated, and Cook Inlet Tribal Council. Elected to the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame, her political activism has had a positive impact on Alaska Native people’s health, wellness and subsistence rights, and she continues her dedication to uplift her community. Van has retired from the commercial fishing industry, giving him time to pursue his gold claims and hunting strategies. Together the Swan family continues their creative and distinctive approach to living. Mottos for living like, ‘If we don’t have one, we certainly can make one, right?!’ and ‘If they haven’t done it in the past, that means Perfect, we can do it in the present!”