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Obituary: John Swanson, trade magazine journalist

By: Bill Bregar

January 23, 2014

VIENNA, VA. — John Swanson, editor and associate publisher of Window & Door magazine and a veteran trade magazine journalist covering the construction industry, died on Jan. 19.

Swanson, 52, had throat cancer. Even while battling cancer, he continued to contribute to Window & Door last year, according to an obituary in the magazine, which is published by the National Glass Association in Vienna, Va.

He started his career at Ashlee Publishing in New York in 1984. He was founding editor of Fenestration in 1987, the first North American trade magazine specifically targeting the residential window and door market. He covered the window and door industry for 26 years, working out of New York.

He orchestrated Fenestration’s rapid growth until he left in 1999 to join the National Glass Association and its magazine, then called Window & Door Fabricator.

Nichole Harris, writing on the website of Window & Door, recalled meeting Swanson in 1993 as the new publisher of Glass Magazine, owned by the National Glass Association. He was talking to a group of window sources at a trade show. “I was struck instantly by his gentle, almost reserved response to my intrusion into this congenial gathering. John was never one to use his deep knowledge, his intelligence or even his physical height to intimidate, much less make anyone — even an erstwhile competitor — feel unwelcome.

Writing in DWM/Shelter magazine, longtime industry editor Charles Cumpston, who hired Swanson for his first job, remembered his gentle demeanor: “He was young but quiet and serious, even then. I could tell he had a lot of potential and so decided to hire him pretty much on the spot.”

Matt Kottke, marketing communications manager for Truth hardware, also commented on Swanson’s soft-spoken personality. “To me, John’s legacy will be that of a quiet, caring, and professional leader who, through his gifts, helped keep an industry informed and engaged,”

“With John, you always knew where you stood,” Cumpston said. “No pretense or falseness.”

Swanson is survived by his wife, Lee, and children Ellen and Harry of Manhattan.

A funeral service will be Feb. 1 at 11 a.m. at Grace Church in New York.