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Published June 15, 2012, 09:40 AM

Police investigate 76 year-old Minn. woman's death

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis police are investigating the homicide of a 76-year-old woman who fought for peace, made community gardens a mission and shrugged off friends' advice to move from her neighborhood.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis police are investigating the homicide of a 76-year-old woman who fought for peace, made community gardens a mission and shrugged off friends' advice to move from her neighborhood.

Police found Lois Swenson dead in her bedroom about noon Wednesday after friends reported they hadn't heard from her. Few details have been released but the medical examiner has ruled her death a homicide.

"That she died this way, it's obscene," said Jane Johnson, who met Swenson 50 years ago when they taught in Robbinsdale. "She is a most unusual person. So nonviolent. Always giving unconditional love. And then she died this way? I still can't get my head around this."

The boulevard in front of Swenson's home is ablaze with flowers, and a garden fills her backyard. On the doorstep, flowers grow from planters made of old shoes, and inside the entry a poster reads: "Let the Christians of the world agree that they will not kill each other."

Swenson taught sixth grade in Robbinsdale and took traveled in Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Mexico and Central America, reported the Star Tribune . She immersed herself in social justice, peace and environmental issues.

"She didn't just travel there for three or four weeks. She often spent upwards to a year," Johnson said. "She went there to learn. She saw a lot of need and a lot of hunger. And it changed her from a suburban-type girl to someone who wanted to help all the needy people."

Swenson immersed herself in social justice, peace and environmental issues. In an interview in Minnesota Women's Press, she said: "My college friends, they have to chuckle now, about when I had to have my purse and gloves and hat and shoes all matching, because that was the thing to do at the time. But now, after having lived in places where people don't have shoes, the color doesn't seem nearly as important."

Swenson's latest push was for community gardens. When she wasn't digging in her own garden, she was working her neighborhood's garden and helping people raise chickens, Johnson said.

Swenson grew up on a farm near Arena, Wis.

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