Randall C. “Swanny” Swanson, emeritus professor of agricultural engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, died Jan. 13 at his home in Madison, Wis. He was 94 years old.
Swanson came to the UW-Madison in 1943, when he was appointed by the Wisconsin Agricultural Extension Service as the first extension farm safety specialist in the United States. He retired from the UW-Madison Department of Agricultural Engineering in 1967.
Swanson provided leadership for farm safety and home safety programs for more than three decades in Wisconsin. At UW-Madison, he worked to promote safety features such as the orange “slow-moving vehicle” triangles used on tractors and other farm machinery.
He was a key figure in organizing and developing the first Institute for Farm Safety Specialists in 1945, and remained active in the farm safety movement for more than 50 years. He served as president of the National Institute for Farm Safety, Inc. (the successor to the Institute for Farm Safety Specialists) from 1963 to 1964, and as secretary of the NIFS from 1962 to 1969.
Swanson was preceded in death by his wife, Karine, and a young daughter, Julie. He is survived by his daughter, Karen Bolles of Woodbury, Minn.; his sons Neal, of Chicago, and Kenneth, of Monroe, Wis.; 11 grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and Evelyn Dokken, a close family friend and relative.