[AES Pacific NW Section - Seatle USA]
Around the Puget Sound
AES PNW Section
In Memoriam

Al "Nagra" Swanson
1948 — 2012

Al (left) and Nagra pal, Danny Grimes, holding court at the Nagra booth at an AES convention.

On July 24, 2012, former AES PNW Section chair, vice-chair and committee member Al Swanson pulled the master fader down for the last time. Al was a life-long location recordist, musician, producer, philosopher, cross-word puzzle creator, and essayist: a true Renaissance Man.

Al had been battling Wegener's Granulomatosis (WG), an autoimmune disorder, since early 2010. He wrote in an email, "I went in for a test, they invited me to stay for treatment." Then only a few days later he wrote, "The thing isn't "curable" ‹‹but neither is life›› but it can generally be managed."

You can find out more than you want to know by Googling the term, or for ANCA, the umbrella term for WG and related maladies. He took ill suddenly on July 22nd, and by the morning of July 23rd, was on life support, and he passed on at about 5:35pm on the 24th. Al's memorial service was held on August 5th, at Bastyr University Chapel, a space that he pioneered for use as a recording space for classical music and film scoring. It was an Event.

It was his method and manner to ferret out information, and faced with what proved to be the ultimate challenge in his life, he dove in and learned enough to be conversant with his MD in discussing the disease, its treatment, and the outcomes. In addition to being an data ferret, Al was a prolific essayist, able to hold his own on a variety of diverse topics, and always bringing a multidisciplinary approach to his examination of the topic. His own condition was no exception, and you are invited to read his essay on Things That Work, When They Do: Observations about Balancing Acts, Hypotheses, Coins, Metaphors, and Ecosystems, Including the Human Immune System

It's vintage Al, nearly as good as discussing it (or anything else) with him over food, or a globe of wine. It's all we have now, so it'll have to do.

Al leaves behind his wife of 41 years, Eileen, and two children, Amy (Geoff) and Stephen (Jeanne) and a grand-daughter.

His obit may be read at: SeattleTimes.com and online from Bonney Watson (with a guestbook)

A Thought From Al, taken from one of his notebooks:

Be practical, but dream; have faith, but not so much that it blinds you to the mysteries of the universe; plumb the depths of those mysteries, yet retain the humility to realize that some things will remain forever far from our understanding; and exult in the sense of wonder in both faith and knowledge.

Last modified 12/14/2014.