Kent P. Swanson Jr., climber, mountain guide, at age 25


Kent P. Swanson Jr., a 25-year-old mountain guide who grew up in Baltimore County and found his calling rescuing wayward skiers and climbers in the American West, was killed in a helicopter crash Jan. 11 in southwestern British Columbia.

The chopper was taking him and other students to an avalanche rescue class when it crashed on Mount Higgins in the Purcell Mountains. All five people on board were killed.

Services for Mr. Swanson will be held at 3 p.m. tomorrow at St. James Episcopal Church on Monkton Road in Monkton.

Six feet tall with a ruddy complexion and a wide smile, Mr. Swanson worked for the American Alpine Institute in the summer and belonged to a California ski patrol in Mammoth Lakes during the cold months.

"He started hiking as a kid and had been skiing since he was 5 years old. As he got older, he would take his dog and camp in state parks," said his father, Kent P. Swanson Sr. "For a high school graduation present, he wanted to go to the Andes, where he climbed his first 20,000-foot mountain."

Born in Summit, N.J., Mr. Swanson was raised in Maryland in Phoenix, where his parents live, and graduated in 1989 from Dulaney High School.

He moved to Portland, Ore., and attended Lewis and Clark College, where he earned a biology degree in 1995.

While there, he became a member of the Portland Mountain Rescue Squad and spent weekends climbing and skiing. A favorite destination was the 14,410-foot summit of Washington's Mount Rainier, where he would often camp overnight.

Said one friend: "He was attracted to the complexity of the mountain environment and loved every aspect of them from the prettiest scenes to the foulest weather. He welcomed all the challenges and phases of nature that one experiences while on a mountain."

Known as a conservative climber, Mr. Swanson would often call off a climb if he was uncomfortable with a situation and come back another day to "fight the mountain."

"When he came to us, we screened him for experience and judgment and were very impressed with his credentials," said Rocky Henderson, head of the Portland Mountain Rescue Squad. "At 20, he was guiding climbers on Mount Rainier, and that's a very rigorous mountain. He had good judgment, common sense and was always calm in a crisis."

Mr. Henderson recalled a rescue on Mount Hood when Mr. Swanson and another climber braved a freezing-rain blizzard on foot to reach three stranded climbers.

"We prayed that they got there," Mr. Henderson said. "It was only because of his intimate knowledge of the mountain that he was able to locate them. They must have appeared as guardian angels to those climbers, who were already suffering from hypothermia when he and his partner got there. They saved three lives that night."

This spring, Mr. Henderson and others plan a memorial hike up Mount Hood to leave a memento of their friend.

While working at California's Mount Whitney for the American Alpine Institute, one of the nation's most prestigious international guide services, Mr. Swanson developed a guide and instructional manual for the 14,494-foot mountain.

"He had all the qualities that go into making a great teacher and guide," said Dunham Gooding, president of the institute. "His clients liked him because of his teaching skills and his wonderful companionship."

In his second season on the ski patrol at Mammoth Mountain, the popular resort near Los Angeles that handles 15,000 skiers a day, Mr. Swanson treated or rescued 3,000 injured skiers a year.

Said Gary Reitman, the resort's ski patrol director: "He was fast and smart and could quickly treat an injured skier and get them off the hill. I've seen them come and go in 30 years, and I was happy that Kent was going to stay. He was that good, and I didn't want to lose him."

"If there is any consolation in all of this," said his father, "he was on his way to do something he really wanted to do. He was doing something that always excited him."

In addition to his father, he is survived by his mother, Tricia Swanson; his maternal grandfather, Robert A. Bishton of Albany, Ga.; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.

Memorial donations may be made to Portland Mountain Rescue, P.O. Box 1222, Portland, Ore. 97207.

Richard P. Hall Sr., 75, pastor, steel worker

The Rev. Richard P. Hall Sr., the pastor of an East Baltimore church and a retired Bethlehem Steel worker, died of diabetes Thursday at his Edmondson Village home. He was 75.

A native of Willard, N.C., Mr. Hall moved to Baltimore in 1944, several months after he married Alberta Sessoms, who died in 1995.

Mr. Hall worked at the Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point plant from 1946 until the late 1970s. In 1976, he became pastor of Jesus Is The Way Apostolic Faith Church in the 2000 block of E. Biddle St.

Services are scheduled for 7: 30 p.m. Wednesday at True Gospel Apostolic Faith Church, 2715 Grindon Ave.

He is survived by two sons, Richard P. Hall Jr. and Clifton Hall, both of Baltimore; three daughters, Rose Black of Baltimore, Elaine Harmon of Philadelphia and Sandra Ewing of Randallstown; a sister, Helen Pickett of Willard, N.C.; nine grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.

Doris E. Kujawa, 70, telephone operator, gardener

Doris E. Kujawa, a former telephone operator, died Jan. 9 at her Northeast Baltimore home of complications from a liver disease. She was 70.

She was born Doris Ewing in Dundalk and attended Sparrows Point High School until she went to work in 1943 as a telephone operator at Fort Holabird. She was an operator until 1953.

She married Valentine F. Kujawa in 1947, and couple had lived since 1956 in the city's Hamilton section. Each year, she canned pears, apples, peaches, cherries and strawberries grown in her back yard. She also grew red roses.

Services were Monday.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by six sons, William Kujawa and John Kujawa, both of Ellicott City, Robert Kujawa and Joseph Kujawa, both of Baltimore, Thomas Kujawa of Chicago and James Kujawa of Joppa; two daughters, Jean Mattingly of Ellicott City and Nancy Kujawa of Baltimore; her mother, D. Edith Osterman of Baltimore; and 10 grandchildren.

James B. Thomas, 71, surveyor, museum volunteer

James B. Thomas, a retired surveyor who was a longtime volunteer docent at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, died of a heart attack Jan. 9 at Memorial Hospital in Easton. He was 71 and lived in Neavitt, Talbot County.

A former resident of White Hall, he retired in 1990 as a surveyor. He had been employed by John E. Harms Associates and Triangle Associates.

Mr. Thomas was born and raised in Homeland and was a 1943 graduate of Polytechnic Institute. He served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War.

He served in the merchant marine until 1955, when he was appointed navigator aboard the White Mist, the National Geographic Society's yawl. He worked aboard the vessel until 1966.

He is survived by his wife of 16 years, the former Mary Valliant Warner; two daughters, Miriam T. Brandau of Baltimore and Ellen T. Ranzenbach of Annapolis; a brother, George Thomas of Baltimore; two sisters, Elise T. Scott of Baltimore and Ann T. Schultz of Wilmington, Del.; two stepsons, Thomas Clayland Turnbull of Baltimore and Edwin Steuart Turnbull of Stewartstown, Pa.; a stepdaughter, Donna T. Kurtinecz of Sparks; two grandsons; and three step-grandchildren.

A memorial service was held Sunday.

Alexander J. Ogrinz III, 53, administrative law judge

Alexander J. Ogrinz III, a Baltimore native and administrative law judge for the Social Security Administration, died Dec. 19 of cancer in Charleston, W.Va., where he lived. He was 53.

Mr. Ogrinz graduated from Baltimore City College in 1961 and Duke University in 1965. He graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law in the mid-1970s.

After Duke, he served two tours of duty in Vietnam -- first as the commander of a coastal swift boat and then as an engineering officer aboard a destroyer.

In his law practice, he worked as an associate with the local firm of Constable, Alexander & Daneker and later served as counsel for the SSA in Woodlawn. He was appointed an administrative law judge in the SSA's Charleston, W.Va., office in 1989.

Services for Mr. Orgrinz, who was divorced, were held Dec. 22. He is survived by two sons, Alexander J. Ogrinz IV and Gregory F. Ogrinz, both of Charleston, W.Va.; his mother, Camilla Ogrinz, and a sister, Cordelia Ogrinz, both of Charlotte, N.C.

Harriet R. Tranberg, 76, homemaker, Harford activist

Harriet R. Tranberg, a homemaker and Harford County activist, died Monday of cancer at her Joppa residence. She was 76.

Mrs. Tranberg, who had lived in Harford County for 46 years, volunteered with the Harford County League of Women Voters and served on the organization's state board. She was a member of the Little Gunpowder Improvement Association and the Harford County People's Counsel Citizens Advisory Board.

Born in Minneapolis, Minn., she moved as a child to Connecticut and was a graduate of Milford High School. She attended the University of Michigan for a year and in 1944 enlisted in the Navy. As a WAVE, she served as a control tower operator at the Banana River, Fla., Naval Air Station until 1946, when she was discharged with the rank of specialist third class.

She was married in 1947 to Thomas W. Tranberg, an aeronautical engineer who died in 1968.

She enjoyed gardening.

No services will be held.

She is survived by a daughter, Lisa T. Roiseman of Nashville, Tenn.

Memorial donations may be made to the Little Gunpowder Improvement Association, 2519 Jerusalem Road, Joppa 21085.

Pub Date: 1/18/97

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