- About Us
Luella Mae WalesMarch 24, 1930 ~ November 1, 2017 (age 87)
Luella Mae Wales (Ellingsen) died on November 1, 2017, in Gig Harbor, Washington after battling heart problems and breast cancer. Luella was 87 years old.
Luella was born March 24, 1930, on Vashon Island to Engvarda and Alfred Olai Ellingsen. The Ellingsen family had five children, Marie, Karl, Bea, Luella, and Richard. Alfred Ellingsen supported his family as a fisherman, fishing in the Alaskan waters.
Luella lived her entire childhood on Vashon Island. There were many extended family members who shared the island with Luella’s family. Aunts, uncles and cousins were not only relatives but also the core of her friends. She graduated from Vashon Island High School in 1948 where she formed many strong friendships in this small community. Luella always said that she had a good life growing up on Vashon. She was one of many kids on the island and they enjoyed the attributes of a small community like picnics, dances and Christmas programs.
As a child, Luella earned money berry picking at local fields on Vashon. She hated berry picking. Later in life however, she always had raspberries, strawberries and other berries in her garden for her family to enjoy. Lue was so happy to have propagated the raspberries from her mother’s garden on Vashon. Both daughters, Joan and Kathy, propagated their berries from Lue’s garden.
After graduation, Luella enrolled in the nursing program at Tacoma General Hospital. Nursing students lived full-time at the hospital and worked while attending classes. Tacoma General nursing students paid for their education by performing general labor jobs, eventually working into jobs that required more specific nursing skills until eventually earning their Registered Nursing degree. Luella developed many relationships with other nursing students who continued to be a part of her life. Luella graduated in 1951. Last April, Luella attended a Tacoma General Nursing School reunion. She enjoyed sitting with former classmates and sharing stories. Afterward, Luella wanted to drive through Tacoma and see the sights.
It was 1952, Luella was working at Group Health hospital in Seattle when a former patient came down the hall with a scrawny young man, Raymond Wales. Grandma Wales had been Luella’s patient and knew that she had found the woman for her son! Shortly after meeting, Luella traveled to Fresno, California, where she married Raymond on December 29, 1952. Their first daughter, Joan, was born in November 1953.
Ray and Luella moved from California back to Washington and established their home in Burien, Washington. The family grew by two, Jim (August 1955) and Kathy (January 1957). Looking for a rural area to build a home for their growing family, they purchased land east of Kent. They built the first of three homes in what was then, a rural community. Lue would work on the weekends while Ray would haul the three children to the house he was building for his wife. Lue loved telling the story of how Jim helped his father to keep the house warm by throwing a big bundle of insulation paper into the living room fireplace. When the paper jumped out of the fireplace and threatened to burn down the new house, Joan ran to warn her dad. He quickly brought a hose and doused the fire. The hearth still shows the ash stains.
The Wales Family moved into the Kent, Derbershire Neighborhood house in 1959. Luella made long-lasting relationships with all the neighbors, especially the Nielsens, McCauleys, Hoopers, and Burns. The neighborhood children and all of Joan, Jim and Kathy’s friends were welcome in her home. Luella participated in the P.T.S.A. and attended all the school events that her children were a part of ensuring that she was there to support them. She attended field trips and helped design Halloween costumes that her children wanted to wear at the elementary school “parades”. Lue spent one late night working with another parent, Inga Nielsen, creating a horse costume that the 6th graders, Ann Nielsen and daughter Kathy could wear as a costume at the school parade. It was the coolest costume at the Pine Tree Elementary!
Luella and Ray built their second home right next door to their first home. They moved in 1979 after selling their home to John and Marlene Berge. John and Marlene became great friends with Lue and Ray. Lue loved having them visit throughout the years.
Luella was hired as a Recovery Room nurse in 1959 at Auburn Hospital and Raymond continued working for Boeing. Luella worked at Auburn Hospital until she retired in 1988. Luella would have liked to work several additional years but she and Ray had just finished their third home on the water in Olalla, Washington, and the commute was just too long.
Family activities were always the center of Luella’s life. She gained the greatest joy from visits with her grandchildren and going to family events. Last August, Lue insisted on attending a play performance of great granddaughter Katelyn. It was a late night for her, but Luella took in every detail and talked about the play for many days afterward and was amazed at Katelyn’s talent. During the holidays, great granddaughters Katelyn and Natalie would perform their latest songs from a school program or their current drama production. Luella couldn’t get enough of their bubbly little personalities.
Luella especially got a kick out of attending events that daughter Joan’s friends were involved in such as the Children’s Hospital Guild Pie parties and La Mexicana softball games. Even when Lue couldn’t join the fun, she was excited to hear all the details of Joan’s adventures...and Joan was great at telling her stories!
Luella’s Norwegian heritage was always prominent especially around the holidays. With her siblings, Lue enjoyed a good Lutefisk, ham and boiled potato meal. She ensured that Joan and Kathy learned to make the most important holiday treats - Rye bread, jam, lefse, Yulekaka, Sylvia Toffee Squares and Fattigman.
Most vacations were centered on family travels but once the kids were on their own, she enjoyed trips to Hawaii with friends from Auburn Hospital, traveling with Ray and sister Marie to Norway and England and later taking a cruise through the Panama Canal. In the spring of 2014, Luella, Ray, daughter Joan and son-in-law Steve, took a cruise to Alaska with Luella’s sister Marie and niece Nancy and great niece Erica. Lue was pleased with herself because she never got seasick, because SHE was the daughter of a fisherman.
Luella was an avid seamstress; something neither daughter became proficient at, much to her dismay. She was crestfallen when one daughter earned a “D” grade in sewing Home Ed class. We will leave it to your imagination to figure out which daughter earned that grade. Lue enjoyed sewing clothes for her daughters as they were growing up and later became interested in sewing quilts. While living in Port Hadlock, building a house for daughter Kathy, Luella joined a group of Kathy’s friends who were meeting regularly to quilt. Kathy wasn’t invited to those quilting parties!
Construction projects were of high interest to Luella. With Ray, they built four homes and remodeled and owned three rentals. She insisted that Ray build a house for their youngest daughter, probably just so she could design a fourth house. She loved the design and decision process of construction. From building her own homes with Ray, to listening to Jim share his latest house painting or drain field issues to watching Joan and son-in-law Steve build their new home, construction was always in Lue’s blood.
Lue loved being around people, although anyone would say that she was quite reserved. She loved being included in activities and could be counted on to participate. Son Jim gave Lue a Nook so that she could have a Facebook account. He also taught her how to order books online from the library, because she was an avid reader. She enjoyed following family and their friends on Facebook. Lue wasn’t skilled at entering information onto her Facebook site but loved trolling all of her family! She was continually surprised by Facebook links that showed up of people who she didn’t even know - but she read about them anyway.
Flower and vegetable gardens were a Luella Wales staple. She grew beautiful flowers and vegetables that she shared with family and friends. Luella, later in life, enjoyed living her gardening dreams through daughter Joan who used FaceTime to share her garden purchases and the latest plant that was blooming. Those online tours of Joan’s yard amazed Luella.
Once Luella became limited in her travels, her children visited frequently. Jim entertained Luella with new games that he played with her while they talked about his three children and the grandkids.
Luella was preceded in death by her parents and four siblings, Marie, Karl, Bea, and Richard. She is survived by her husband of 65 years (December 29, 1952), Raymond A. Wales; daughter Joan Lightle (Steve); James Wales (Debbie), Kathy Wales (Shannon Lowrie), and grandchildren, Josiah, Laura, and Michael. Luella also has three great grandchildren, Katelyn, Natalie, and Myla.
A Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, November 19, 2017, 1:00 P.M., at Harbor Place at Cottesmore in Gig Harbor, Washington. A family burial service will be held on Friday, November 24, at noon at the Vashon Island Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please visit a nursery, purchase a bright pink flower and plant it in your garden in remembrance. Lue would love that.