ver 100 years ago, John Swensen (Johannes Swensen) emigrated from Norway to the United States. By 1913, he had settled in Manistee, MI, where he founded Swensen Monuments. The family business was later carried on by his daughters, Grace and Marion.
During a thirty-plus year span from the 1950s to the 1980s, Grace owned and operated Swensen Memorials from the location on E. Eighth Street in Traverse City, MI. For much of that time, following her husband’s passing in 1957, she was a woman in a man’s business, and holding her own while also raising three children. At one point, there were five Swensen stores in Michigan. Grace has since passed, but leaves behind a very special Swensen legacy. Marion, now retired, continues to live in Manistee.
Some of John Swensen’s original work is still showcased in the Manistee Cemetery. These pieces are made even more impressive when one considers their size, and that hand carving, horses and pulleys were the extent of the available technology.
In 1998, David and Nancy Sietsema expanded their Muskegon establishment, Superior Monument, and purchased Swensen Memorials. Together they brought more than 70 years of experience to the scene, and continued the excellent service of the Swensens. Maintaining the tradition of family, the Sietsema’s invited their daughter, Christine Torrey, to manage the Traverse City store.
In 2018, with the retirement of Dave and Nancy, Patten Monument Company in Comstock Park has purchased Superior Monument Company in Muskegon, along with the Grand Haven location and the Swensen Memorials location. The Sietsema’s wanted to know the company would be in good hands, and with Patten’s excellent reputation for customer service and high quality, Patten Monument would be the best choice to ensure the future growth and community commitment of the company that they’d built from scratch 31 years ago. Established in 1917, Patten Monument has been serving Michigan families for the past 100 years. From humble beginnings as a single shop on Plainfield Avenue, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Patten has grown to become Michigan’s largest provider of cemetery memorials. Patten Monument celebrated its 100 years in business last year. “It’s our honor to carry the torch that Dave lit in 1986. With the knowledgeable and dedicated staff at Superior, it’s a great opportunity to collaborate and exchange ideas with our new team.” Said Andrew Bolt, president of Patten Monument.
Christine continues to manage Swensen Memorials, under the new ownership of Patten Monument Company, after her parent’s retirement in 2018.
Superior Monument is proud to become part of a new family but is still locally owned and operated and the most experienced monument dealer in the lakeshore area.
“We are very pleased with the stone. My father is very satisfied. We greatly appreciate you working with us on the financial part. It was a pleasure working with you Pete and your wife.” – Keith Ball
Today, we are thankfully celebrating more than 100 years of service to the families of Northern Michigan. We treasure the generational loyalty gained through superior craftsmanship, compassionate support and trust.
Please take a few minutes to explore our site, and discover what Swensen Memorials is all about. We would be honored to serve you, and assist you in remembering the legacy of a life well lived.