In loving memory of
Elsie (Ellie) Jerstad
  • January 18, 1922
  • -
  • January 30, 2017

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Obituary

PORT ORANGE, FL – Elsie VanWie Jerstad, age 95, passed away peacefully at home on January 30, 2017.  She was born January 18, 1922, in Franksville, Wisconsin, to Abram and Sena VanWie (nee Christensen).  Elsie was preceded in death by her parents, by her siblings Del, Merle, Esther, Ethel, Doris, Earl, and Elmer, by her husbands Milt Laurent and Jack Jerstad, and by her beloved partner of 14 years, Bill Marifjeren.

She is survived by her children Tom Laurent (Rosemarie) of Rockport ME, Lynn Crawford (Ed, deceased) of Camdenton MO, John Laurent (Becky) of Birmingham AL, and Bob Laurent (Donna) of Port Orange, by three grandchildren and five great grandchildren, and by many dear friends.  Elsie leaves behind a number of nieces and nephews, and she was especially close to her niece Carol and husband Gary Jensen all the years she lived in Kenosha before moving to Port Orange in 2013.

Like many in her generation, Elsie had a childhood marred by hard times and the untimely deaths of people she loved.  Still, she was incredibly resilient, loving, and thoughtful; and even at age 95 she was focused on the needs and concerns of the people around her.  Her interest in others led her to commit to memory the name of every new acquaintance the moment she met them, a remarkable feat for a person in her 90s.  She was also sure to offer a hug to anyone who needed one, and she was blessed with a great capacity for gratitude.

She had a flair for numbers and kept dozens of phone numbers in her head, and she was beating her family in games of cribbage and schafskopf until she fell ill shortly before her death.  For many years she was a full-time mother (and a wonderful and fun one!), and when her kids got older she worked as a head cashier, then as a bookkeeper, and finally as a buying agent for a steel company.  For over 40 years she lived in a light-filled apartment on the very edge of Lake Michigan, and she and her neighbor used to feed songbirds, ducks, and even the occasional groundhog or raccoon.  The squirrels living there were noticeably chubby.

Her talent with numbers also helped Elsie use her resources for the things that really mattered to her, so that she was able to create a beautiful and comfortable home, to travel, to help her children when they needed it, and to share whatever she had with those who were less fortunate.

Elsie was smart, competent, and wise, fearless in the face of new technology, and blessed with a natural gift for moderation in all matters except for chocolate.  And best of all, she lived joyfully and gracefully and was able to laugh at herself.  Elsie was always attractive and impeccably turned out, and the photo shown here was taken at her 95th birthday party. Her inner beauty was even more striking, and she will be sorely missed.

The family thanks the staff and residents of Countryside Lakes retirement community for enriching Elsie’s last three years, and a memorial service will be held there at a later date.  The family also gives special thanks to Abby Garvin and Iride Ren for the skilled and loving care they gave to Elsie in her last weeks.  For anyone who wishes to make a charitable donation in Elsie’s memory, consider the National Wildlife Federation or a charity of your choice.


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  1. 05 Feb 2017
    Cathy Leaver says:
    You were a dear friend to my Mom and to me. Thank you. Always enjoyed the hugs that I got each month from you when I came down to visit my Mom. Rest In Peace my friend.

  2. 03 Feb 2017
    Karen Marifern says:
    She truly was a wonderful person. She became a part of our family, and we will always cherish the memories. She was the strength behind my Father-in-Law Bill

  3. 01 Feb 2017
    Jane Goldberg says:
    My family was so blessed to have Ellie in your lives. She was a beloved companion to my father for 14 years and we all welcomed her into our family.
    She entertained us with her endless tales of adventures through the years. I remember when my boys decided to call her Grandma Ellie instead of Grampa's girlfriend.
    Best of all I will always remember her kind spirit and loving way. The world and I will miss "Ms. Ellie."

  4. 31 Jan 2017
    Paula Lowry (sister of Becky Laurent) says:
    I am glad I got a chance to meet her. She was a person full of joy, vitality and beauty and she will be missed!

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