“It’s not the length of life, but the depth of life.”

 – Ralph Waldo Emerson

On July 8, 2023, just three weeks short of her 25th birthday, Michelle Leann Swanlund’s precious life was cut short due to a fatal car accident.

Michelle was born on July 31, 1998. She had two older siblings, Melissa and Gordon, and two younger siblings, Hannah and Tristian. She had an extra special bond with each of them that could never be broken.

Michelle found one of her passions in life on the back of a horse. She spent many hours on the beach, trail riding, or in an arena. It didn’t matter where she rode. She had her four favorite horses, but rode countless others and loved every new ride and adventure they brought. With this passion, Michelle soon found herself at Redwood Creek Summer Camp, where she spent the summers leading trail rides and helping kids learn about horses. She shared her love and passion for each of the horses with the kids every year. When the summer camp was in need of a lifeguard Michelle, once again, literally “dove” into her next passion: swimming. She became a certified riverfront lifeguard. She was a valued member of the Redwood Creek staff and was cherished by all who knew her.

Scholastically, Michelle loved attending Freshwater Elementary School, where she formed special bonds with each of her teachers. After leaving their classrooms, she could still be found helping each teacher in many ways. For 7th and 8th grade, Michelle attended Freshwater Charter Middle School, where Mr. Haller and Jennifer Jones (Lovingly known as “JJ” to all her students) became her inspirations. Throughout her entire time at Freshwater, she was blessed to have Amy Carlstad by her side. When graduation came, Michelle was awarded the Presidential Honor of Scholastic Achievement.

Michelle was blessed to attend 6 Rivers Charter High School where she, once again, found herself as an aid to the teachers there and it was here where she formed a lifetime friendship with her teacher, Tara Millsap Ralulu. They spent many hours talking and spending time together. Ms. Ralulu was always just a phone call away, even after she finished high school.

Michelle had many adventures after she graduated high school. She worked hard but always made time to be with each of her siblings. Whether that was when they were graduating, having a birthday, or just making time to have a quick lunch or dinner with them. The weeks before her accident, she was at her younger brother’s 8th grade graduation, then, two days later she flew back to Ohio to witness the birth of Paisley, her first niece and finished the last step of her life at her Brother’s wedding, the weekend prior, where she was surrounded by many who loved her. Life will never be the same without her.

Michelle will also be dearly missed by her mom, Jody Swanlund, her dad, Scott Swanlund, her grandparents Arvie and Alice Seiber, Wanda Swanlund, her sister-in-law, Leah Swanlund as well as many other family and friends who had the blessing of sharing in the adventures of her life.

Michelle lived and loved fiercely.

A memorial will be held in Michelle’s memory at 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at the Lifehouse Church, 2734 Hubbard Ln, Eureka, Ca 95501 for all those who wish to attend in person. (Please remember to always wear a safety belt while in a vehicle, in her memory). Her service can also be seen on the “Lifehouse Eureka” Facebook page for those who cannot make it in person.

Michelle loved attending summer camp when she was too young to work there, and it is our wish, as a family, to continue her legacy in the form of a memorial fund that has been set up in Michelle’s memory to provide scholarships to children who wish to go to a summer camp. We pray it will touch their lives, much the same way it did her. If you wish to make a donation, there will be ways to donate at the memorial, as well as over Venmo: @Michelle_Camp_Scholarship_Fund


The obituary above was submitted on behalf of Michelle Swanlund’s loved ones. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email news@lostcoastoutpost.com.