Medical 06

Martha (Garf) Swenson

June 10, 1929 ~ March 29, 2022 (age 92)


Martha Garf Swenson, 92, of Clifton passed away on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 at her residence. Funeral services will be held at 10:00 A.M. Monday, April 4, 2022 at Trinity Lutheran Church with Pastor R. Don Wright officiating. Burial will follow at Norse Cemetery. Visitation will be held from 5-7 P.M. Sunday, April 3, 2022 at Clifton Funeral Home. 

Martha was born in Iowa on June 10, 1929. It was the depression and the family was broken up and sent to various orphanages. At a very early age, she was adopted into the very loving family of Rev. Joel and Estelle Nelson. At the time, Grandpa Joel was serving a congregation in Iowa. Martha was raised with her older brother Ed and her younger brother Danny.  

In 1951, Martha graduated from Sioux Valley Hospital Nursing School with her Registered Nursing license in Cherokee, Iowa. Soon after, Martha met and later married William Lee Garf. Together they had three children: Gail Lee, Karen Kay, Alan Joel. Bill passed away in 1960 while our family lived in Minnesota. Martha’s father Rev. Joel was serving at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Norse at the time, so we moved to Clifton where we laid our father Bill to rest. While living in Clifton, Mom began nursing at Goodall-Witcher Hospital.

In 1961, Mom met and married Vernon Swenson at Trinity Lutheran Church. Vernon had two sons of his own, John Gary and Ronald Paul. Mom and Vernon had Vernon Avery Jr in 1963. They referenced the movie “Yours, Mine, and Ours” starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda when referring to their family.

Mom left nursing shortly after the birth of their son Vernon Jr. and started working at Daddy’s lumber yard, Central Texas Lumber Co. In mid-1970, Daddy and Momma sold the lumber yard to Vernon’s son Gary and his wife Billie. After retiring, Daddy and Mom began a 3 year long search to locate Mom’s biological siblings. After finding all her brothers and sister in 1978 (Walter, Richard, Paul, Ester, & Bill), they bought a house and 40 acres (affectionately known as “The North Forty”) in the northeast corner of Iowa to use as a summer home, as many of her siblings lived in that area. Mom and Dad would pack up for Iowa in April and return in September “to winter” in Texas. Our families would often vacation to see them during the summer for a cool vacation and/or load up the day after Christmas to go and enjoy the snow for a few days, up until 1995 when they sold their property in Iowa.  

Daddy had an infectious love for flying and sold some land to the City of Clifton in the mid 1960’s. He did this so the city could build the Clifton Airport down the road from our family home, giving us easy access to our family planes. Mom started her flying lessons in the 1970’s and Vernon Jr. began his lessons in the late 1990’s… Both flew solo and logged their cross-country flights. Many Sundays after church, Daddy would say “Let’s go make a block”, which meant flying around Clifton for 20-30 minutes while Momma made Sunday dinner. Even our family from faraway places remember the thrill of going to see their Uncle Vernon and Aunt Martha’s so they could go flying, like our Uncle Coston, Aunt Laverne, Skippy, Bubba, Cousin Suzie. Mom & Dad even took a big trip North to South Dakota while Grandpa Joel was a visitation Pastor there.

An interesting thing about siblings that had been separated since a very young age... Both our mom and Aunt Ester, were adopted by Lutheran Ministers with the last name of Nelson, they went to grade school about 30 miles apart, they both went into nursing, and they both had two girls and a boy that were close to the same ages.

Mom loved gardening. In Clifton and at their summer home in Iowa, Mom would always have a large garden. During the spring, summer and into the early fall there would always be fresh vegetables on the table. She would can pears each year that had just a hint of cinnamon.

Mom moved into Rainbow Village and continued to garden as much as ever. She enjoyed the evenings with her neighbors playing games and putting together puzzles. One of her neighbors was Alice Peterson and it turns out that Mom’s mom and Alice’s mom used to dress in Norwegian dress and work the Smorgasbord at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church at Norse each year.  

Martha is survived by children Gary, Ron, Gail, Karen, Joel, and Vern. 19 grandchildren and 34 great-grandchildren.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Martha, please visit our floral store.


April 3, 2022

5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Clifton Funeral Home
303 South Avenue F
Clifton, TX 76634-2246

Funeral Service
April 4, 2022

10:00 AM
Trinity Lutheran Church

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