By Starla Pointer • Staff Writer • 

She's loved every day of her 100 years

It was a good day, just like all the days that came before.

“I’ve enjoyed absolutely everything I’ve ever done!” said Ellingson, who lives in the Vineyard Heights retirement home in McMinnville. “I enjoy every day that’s given to me.”

Ellingson was born in northwestern North Dakota, near the Canadian border, on March 29, 1915. She grew up reading by kerosene lamp, as electricity wouldn’t reach her remote area until after World War II.

After graduating from high school at 18, she studied for a basic teacher’s license. Then she taught at a country school for two years.

She would walk the mile to school each morning to get the heat going before the arrival of her students, who ranged in age from 6 to the early 20s.

She went back to school herself so she could qualify for a job in larger districts. She especially enjoyed teaching second grade.

“I liked that age,” she said. “If you get a good, good start then, you’ll be able to do well all through school.”

She stopped teaching when she married Sanford Ellingson. But she went back while he was overseas during World War II.

She quit again to raise her five children. But when the youngest reached fourth grade, she returned to teaching.

Over the years, Ellingson noticed some people hadn’t been able to go to school because of disabilities. So she started a training and jobs program for developmentally disabled adults, along the lines of the Mid-Valley Workshop.

“For the first time in their lives, these citizens had jobs and were earning their own money,” she said, noting that her efforts received key support from a local Catholic school. “They felt worthwhile. What a wonderful feeling for them, and for their parents.”

Starting that program was “the best thing I did in my life,” she said, noting that it fits in with her philosophy that everyone has value.

Ellingson moved to McMinnville about five years ago.

She has a daughter, Janet Noland, in McMinnville; a son, John, in Forest Grove; and a son, Roger, in Portland. Her husband and her eldest son, Steve, have passed away. Her remaining son, Jim, still lives in North Dakota.

She enjoys visiting with her family members.

“My children all have good jobs and good husbands or wives,” she said. “I feel I’ve been really blessed to have been given so much.

“I always did the best I could, and the best has come back to me.”


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