OBITUARY OF JOHN ELSAAS
August 18, 1936 – January 29, 2018
The world lost a good one when John Elsaas, 81, passed away in Buckley, WA on January 29 after a battle with Epithelioid Angiosarcoma, a rare form of cancer that was only recently discovered and diagnosed.
John was born to James and Ardell (Morken) Elsaas on August 18, 1936. He spent his childhood in Pekin, ND, one of many little towns on the prairie, with a population of about 200 – mostly Scandinavians. The family was proud of its heritage and Norwegian was regularly spoken in the home by both grandparents and parents. That heritage also presented itself at the table, in the form of lefse and other delicious goodies, as well as lutefisk and fish balls that were not as universally popular.
John attended all twelve grades in Pekin Public School. He played basketball and baseball in high school and enjoyed playing softball in a summer league at nearby Red Willow Resort. He was one of nine in his 1954 graduation class.
The family moved for a short time to Vancouver, Washington in 1945, when John’s dad heard about good jobs in the naval shipyard there. However, the call of the prairie soon beckoned and they returned to North Dakota after a few months.
In his early teens John worked a variety of summer jobs on neighboring farms, and from one of those jobs he brought home his first car, a Model A that had been tucked away in a barn, with mushrooms growing in the top. In his late teens he spent his summers working on county road crews. He enjoyed hunting gophers and mink with his trusty ’22 rifle and made pocket money selling the pelts to a fur trader.
John went on to attend the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, where he joined the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. After completing college, he enlisted in the Army and attended basic training in Fort Carson, CO, then served overseas in La Rochelle, France, where he stayed in a German Officer’s building looking out to submarine pens in the Bay of Biscay. He served in the US Army Reserves at Magnuson Park in Seattle.
After leaving the Army, John headed west to Washington State, to join his parents and sister who had moved to Longview while he was in the service. He settled in Seattle, where the jobs were, and worked for small manufacturing companies before joining The Boeing Company workforce. He was very proud of his Boeing career and worked in planning and scheduling on several projects, including the top-secret B-2 Bomber and the Boeing 737 and 747, his last project prior to retirement. John was a founding member of the Eagles in Orting and one of his long-time favorite past times was playing pool there with his buddies.
A year ago John and his wife Maxine moved to the Heritage House, an assisted living facility in Buckley. They were so happy to be there, unburdened from caring for house or yard and surrounded by friendly and caring staff and residents. Maxine will continue to reside there. Our family is grateful for their kindness and loving care.
John was a good man, a man of integrity: honest, friendly, hard working. He was much loved by family and friends and will be dearly missed. He was preceded in death by his parents and several aunts, uncles and cousins, many of whom were an important presence and influence in his growing-up years.
John is survived by his wife Maxine, of Buckley, WA and by his daughter Sonja (Ford) Ostlund of Orting, WA and their two daughters, along with his stepchildren Diane Alexander of Lake Bay, WA; Laura (Joe) Marusa of Yelm, WA and their two sons; and Mike (Lisa) Alexander of Orting, WA and their daughter. John is also survived by his sister, Ann Hetherington (Dick) of Redmond, WA.
In late March John will be interred in an honor guard ceremony at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, WA, with spectacular views of nearby Mt. Rainier.
Arrangements by Powers Funeral Home.