SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Swede Risland
By John McDermott


September 07, 2011
Wednesday AM

I was reading the SitNews page about Ketchikan's legendary logger, the late Arvid "Swede" Risland. As a longtime friend of Swede's, I can vouch for the comments about Swede's legendary generosity - he truly was 'the real deal.' There have been many comments about his reputation for great physical strength as well, but few specifics have been mentioned. So, I'll relate one of my many personal experiences with Swede.

The year was 1987, when Swede would have been 72 years old. I owned a very heavy metal-working lathe at the time, and I told Swede about it. His tool-and-hardware collecting tendency got the better of him, and he stopped by my house to make me an offer I couldn't refuse. So, we struck a deal. I told him to go round up a few burly friends to help us load the lathe onto his trusty and rusty pickup truck. But Swede didn't even consider that option. He grabbed onto the lathe and tossed it into the truck as if it were just a piece of luggage! I knew that Swede was very strong, but I didn't realize that he was strong enough to single-handedly lift and load a 600 pound piece of machinery. As a former powerlifter (Alaska State Powerlifting Championships - 1974), I was no match for the super-human strength of Arvid "Swede" Risland at age 72.

John McDermott
Nashville, TN

About: "Moved to Ketchikan in 1960.
-5th Place, State Powerlifting Championships - 1974
-Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District: 1983-1994
-Firefighter/EMT, Ketchikan Fire Dept 1988-1992
-Ketchikan Education Association: President, 1994
-University Of Alaska, Ketchikan Campus: 1995-2000"

Received September 03, 2011 - Published September 07, 2011

Related Feature Article:

Remembering 'Swede' Risland (1915-1991); The town's most memorable logger By June Allen

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