Jim Swenson Tribute


It is with great sadness but warm and rich memories that the Ocean Institute honors the passing of Jim Swenson, a wonderful and caring friend and an enduring example of leadership at its best.

There is little that the Ocean Institute accomplished over the 29 years of Jim’s remarkable tenure on the Board of Directors that does not bear his and his wife Sue’s imprint.  Over 100,000 people a year, young and old, find inspiration in the waterfront campus and modern marine science learning centers nurtured by Jim and Sue. 

Their vision and generosity brought the Pilgrim to Dana Point in the 1980s to create an unparalleled floating maritime classroom and, not long after, the Spirit of Dana Point, which with the Pilgrim, forms the nucleus of the campus we know today.

But the Swensons knew that a beautiful educational facility full of dedicated people was of little value unless children had the means to use it, and yet again Jim and Sue became the driving force behind the growth of the Adopt-A-Class program.  Countless children were introduced to marine life such as hermit crabs, and many of them to their ocean for the first time.

And like a warm southerly breeze over Dana Point Harbor, Jim would delight us with his surprise visits from time to time bringing sweet grapefruit from his garden or his best-in-show peanut brittle.  The holiday season will never be the same without that peanut brittle!

In the words of Mel Chambers, a fellow board member and good friend, “Those of us who knew Jim, along with the children he helped us serve, will never be the same again, not because Jim has left us, but because Jim’s caring presence was such a constant in the life and success of the Ocean Institute.”