Obituary of Elsie M. Torkelson
Surrounded by family during the final days, Elsie M. Torkelson passed away peacefully on November 22, 2021, at the age of 92. Elsie is survived by her four remaining siblings, Aino Casteel, Elma Neighbors, Heino Niemi and Olga Powell, her two adopted children Bert Torkelson and Lisa Broden, and grandchildren Megan and Cade Torkelson. Elsie was predeceased by her husband, Don Torkelson, brother John Niemi and sisters Eileen and Lempi Niemi, and parents Jacob Niemi and Esther Sifritson.
Although her birth certificate indicates she was born in Osage, MN, our mother would clarify that she born at her home located between Detroit Lakes and Osage. She spoke of true hardships growing up in the rural Minnesota area in the early 30’s and 40’s but accounted each story with a fond memory of being with a parent, sibling, uncle or aunt. By age of 17, she began her travels to help care for the newest family members. From the rural area of Shell Lake Township in Becker County, she worked and traveled to the Southern areas of Minnesota, onto Chicago, Bend, and the Seattle area before marrying Don Torkelson on June 14, 1958. Soon after, Mom and Dad moved to Juntura, Oregon where they resided for over 50 years. Don and Elsie adopted two children Bert Torkelson and Lisa Broden in 1970 and 1973, but also fostered numerous children in the 60’s and 70’s; many who have kept in touch with them into their adult years even after spending only a few weeks and/or months with my parents as young, foster children. And a few who still refer to Don and Elsie as Mom and Dad, Bert and I as their siblings, and their children are our nephews and nieces.
Our mother was a wonderful person. She did not have a mean spirit in her body and prayed for both friend and foe. Although not perfect, in our hearts she was one of the kindest individuals that we know that wanted only the best for those she came in contact with. Although very shy, she had a heart of gold. Since she was young child, she had a caring soul and would check on those around her, young or old that she felt needed watching over. She swaddled and cared for her younger siblings while taking care of her elders around her. She worked hard alongside her other siblings to put food on the table, clothing on their backs, and any other necessities that the family had.
Among the countless jobs and volunteering opportunities that Mom was involved with, she was particularly proud of being a part of the Juntura Quick Response/EMT Unit for over 25 years and serving as the Juntura Postmaster for over 10 years until retiring September 30, 1998. She loved to visit with all the residents in Juntura and felt like they too were an extension of our family as they shared stories and experiences while raising their children in the same small community. She was willing to help out at a moment’s notice if there was a need from another member of the community. She enjoyed gardening, crocheting, going to yard sales and hunting for antiques, and
driving through the countryside. However, one of her biggest joys was being there for her grandchildren.
Prior to her passing when her body was giving out, her sadness came only from not being able to properly say her goodbyes and convey all her love to those around her and those who were in contact from afar. It was heart breaking to know that was her entire goal in the end was to say I love you and being unable to do so. We will miss her and carry those fond memories of her in our hearts in hopefully the same graceful manner that she spoke when she would recollect on the 92 years.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that you apply a donation to one of the countless foster care organizations in your area in honor of her, as our parent’s involvement with the foster care system spanned for years, or to any other organization that you feel would honor her for her commitment to community as her family and friends know different aspects of her best. And because our mother loved hugs, we only ask that you share the same to those around you to let them know you carry the same in your heart.
There will be a celebration of Elsie’s life on Tuesday, June 14, 2022, at the Idaho Sate Veterans Cemetery at 1 p.m. where our mother will be rejoined with our father’s physical presence. For those who plan to attend, it is suggested that you arrive 15 minutes prior to the celebration as the gathering location is only available in 25-minute increments. Afterward, family and friends are welcome to join for refreshments and food at Keith and Lisa’s home.