McInnis & Holloway
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McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes
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April 7, 1916 – Shirley Warwickshire, England
April 4, 2018 – Calgary, Alberta

Vera Swanson passed away quietly at the Foothills Hospital on Wednesday, April 4, 2018.

Vera lived a full life, spread between England, Ottawa, and Calgary. Vera had two very different lives; she spent her formative years living in the south of England where she met her first husband, who was taken from her by the Second World War before they could celebrate their first anniversary. At the end of the War, she met and married Frank Swanson, who was working in London as a war correspondent. After the War, Vera made the courageous decision to move to Canada with Frank and lived in Ottawa for ten wonderful years, supporting Frank in his role as a senior journalist with the Southam News Service. While in Ottawa, Vera was involved in the local performing arts community and, in particular, the Ottawa Philharmonic.

In 1962, Frank and Vera, along with their son David, moved to Calgary, which became her home for the rest of her life – which was not her plan! Never one to take no for an answer, Vera became a champion of the creation and development of the Calgary Centre for the Performing Arts – now Arts Commons – which stands as a testament to her commitment and determination. Vera was also a patron and supporter of the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, which remained her love until she passed away.

Vera spearheaded the creation of the Calgary International Organ Festival, the Arts Centre Guild, and was an active member of the Churchill Society. In 2001, Vera received the Order of Canada in recognition of her tireless volunteer work.

She will be remembered for her warm and generous hospitality at her home overlooking the foothills and the Rockies.

Vera is survived by her son David and his wife Francine.

The family would like to thank the Thompson Family and Fran Watson for their support and kindness, especially during Vera’s last days.

Funeral Services will be held at The Anglican Parish of Christ Church (3602 8 Street S.W. Calgary, AB) on Monday, April 9, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. Reception to follow. Condolences may be forwarded through

In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes are encouraged to be made directly to the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra at

In living memory of Vera Swanson, a tree will be planted at Fish Creek Provincial Park by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Park Memorial, 5008 ELBOW DRIVE S.W. Calgary, AB, T2S 2L5, Telephone: 403-243-8200.

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Condolence Messages

  1. I admire the life that Vera inspiration to everyone around her.
    With deepest Sympathy
    Francine ‘s cousin
    Patricia Burns-White

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  2. Marion Rogers

    Thank you Vera for your life-long contributions to the Arts Communities wherever you lived. Your volunteer endeavours in Calgary have enriched the lives of so many. What a beautiful legacy you have left for those who follow your footsteps.
    Rest in Peace now Vera. You have earned it.
    Marion Rogers

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  3. Marti & John Maher

    Sorry to hear of Vera’s passing. She is going on to a better place. I always admired her wit and brilliance. One of the best bridge players with whom I’ve ever enjoyed playing.

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  4. Dear David, on behalf of the Claydon family from England, we offer our deepest condolences. My husband and I had the pleasure of meeting Vera many times when David and Gay visited from England. She was kind, generous and truly inspirational.
    We are all deeply sorry for your loss.
    Corinn and Chris Claydon

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  5. Janet Bodanis

    I have I had the pleasure of serving Vern and her family and friends for many years ( Pinebrook Golf and Country Club) she’s a very independent strong beautiful lady .
    She’s always made me laugh ,She will always be missed !
    Janet Bodanis

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  6. Giacomo & Irene Capobianco

    Giacomo & Irene Capobianco are extremely sadened to learn that our dear friend Vera died on April 4th 2018.
    Our heart goes out to you: David & Francine. She will be in our prayers, we wish we could be with you for the funeral tomorrow. We are in Toronto due to Giacomo’s illness. We will be making a donation to the Calgary Symphony in her memory.
    Vera was an incredible person of great courage & convictions, who “got things done”, we are fortunate to have known her. Giacomo & I met her & Frank in Calgary during one of their unforgettable Stampede parties at their beautiful home, she recruited me as one of her Fund Raiser when we constructed the -then, Jack Singer Hall for the Performing Arts ; then she got me very involved in the Organ Festival, I hosted a few of the organ performers.
    We go back many years, we were instrumental in introducing Francine & David, because Giacomo’s Mother in Toronto played bridge with Frances Burns. When Frances came to Calgary (no doubt to check on Francine) I invited her to lunch & met Francine who had just started her career with the law firm of Bennett Jones. I liked Francine immediately & did my best to introduce her to some young people, I gave a “young people”‘s party when I invited David as one of the young men.
    We will miss Vera, she has been “in our mind & heart” since we left Calgary, we tried to phone her each year during Stampede or if not at Christmas. We treasure her dinners -which were always so yummy because she was such a great cook & such a gracious hostess. I remember we played a game of dice afterwards with coffee in the Living Rm.
    My eyes feel with tears when I bring back some of the memories…
    Much Love
    Giacomo & Irene

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  7. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to David. Your mom was truly inspirational. Despite her age, she had the physical and mental strength of a lady much, much younger. She knew what she wanted, and did not take no for an answer. She had a huge heart and wanted to spread the joy of music and art to anyone she met. I will truly miss her. She was an angel.

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