Rodney M. Swanson, a longtime huntsman and horseman, died on July 3 at his home in Hull, Ga., following a courageous yearlong battle with leukemia. He was 69.
Mr. Swanson’s lifelong love affair with horses and hounds began in his teens in the Chicago, Ill., area and was polished during five years in England, Ireland and Wales while training with the British Horse Society.
After graduating from Colorado State University with a degree in agribusiness, Mr. Swanson went on to seek a professional career in hunt service and served as a professional huntsman with hunts in Texas, New Mexico, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
Mr. Swanson was a professional huntsman with the Shakerag Hounds in Georgia for 20 years where he built an outstanding pack of Penn-Marydel Foxhounds. He went to Shakerag from Charleston, S.C., where he served as professional huntsman for Middleton Place Hounds for 15 years. For more than 10 years, Mr. Swanson was master of his own private pack of foxhounds, the Grandfather Mountain Hounds, of Linville, N.C.
In 1992, he started the Byfield Bassets, a private pack recognized by the National Beagle Club in 1993. Since 2007, he was master of his own private Beagle pack, Nowhere Farm Foot Hounds.
Along with his professional duties at Shakerag and Middleton Place, “Mr. Rod” was devoted to educating and mentoring children and teens interested in riding and hunt-related activities, including junior and children’s hunt programs. For many years, he also served as the horsemanship instructor at summer camp programs he developed in North Carolina and New Mexico.
Mr. Swanson is survived by his wife Patricia Sheridan Swanson, of Hull, Ga.
Memorial donations may be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Donor Services, P.O. Box 4072, Pittsfield, MA 01202