Elaine Helen Halverson, age 91, succumbed to lung cancer on July 6, 2014, and died as she lived, surrounded by family. She will be remembered as a wife, mother, gramma, nana, great gramma, and good friend.
Born in Brainerd, MN, on November 1, 1922, Elaine Helen Schwindeman graduated from Washington High School in 1940, along with her high school sweetheart, Richard Halverson. When the U.S. entered World War II, Richard joined the Army Air Corps. Elaine remained in Brainerd working first at a grocery store, and then as a payroll clerk at Montgomery Ward. In Feb. 1944, she bid her family farewell and boarded a train for Montgomery, Alabama where on Feb 5, 1944, she married Richard at the base chapel in Montgomery. Soon after World War II, Elaine and Richard moved to Duluth, and built a home in Lakeside where they raised a family of six children.
In the mid-1950's, Elaine and Richard began square dancing and were involved in the Duluth Area Square Dance Federation for many years. Through that activity, along with their later involvement in the Amway business, Elaine and Richard made many life-long friends. They were also avid snowmobilers and campers, enjoying many wonderful weekend get-aways in the Cross Lake and Cass Lake areas, as well as longer trips to California, the Canadian Rockies and around Lake Superior.
Elaine loved her family and vowed to make a special point of ensuring that her six children grew up in a loving home. It meant a lot to her that she was there to greet them when they walked through the door after school and called, "Mom!" Their backyard was a neighborhood magnet where every kid from the area came to play. She did so many things for her kids – made big pitchers of Kool-Aid, carried buckets of hot water out to the inflatable swimming pool so the water wouldn't be too cold, drove to Munsingwear to buy material to make T-shirts and play clothes, shopped at three super markets to get the best deals to make awesome meals, baked every day so there were fresh treats when the kids came home from school. Elaine was an awesome Mom!
With six kids, the list of chores was unending. Elaine developed a schedule of daily tasks: Monday and Thursday were wash days, Tuesdays and Fridays were clean-the-house-days, and Wednesdays were change-the-sheets-on the-bed days. Saturdays were clean-your-room days, and the kids were not allowed to go anywhere until their rooms were cleaned. Heaven help you if you tried to take any short cuts!
Elaine held down several jobs after most of her children had left the nest. These included: part time cook/server at Rockridge Elementary School; and part time cashier in the Cashier's office at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Elaine began jogging when she was 55 years old, and in her later years became an avid walker. In 1998, the Duluth News Tribune did a story on Elaine as to the many health benefits of walking. She took great pride in that fact that well into her eighties she could still average 5 miles per day and exceed a thousand miles for the year. On a cold December morning in 2008, at age 86, Elaine completed that goal for the tenth consecutive year. Her accomplishment earned her another feature story in the Duluth newspaper and a spot on the local Fox news TV station. She was overjoyed to find her family and friends waiting for her at a makeshift finish-line as she walked the final mile with the reporter.
Elaine became an avid e-mailer after Richard died in 2003, and every Friday the family could look forward to reading her weekly "stuffage" letter where she would sum up the week, talk about weekend plans, and occasionally spill some accidental gossip.
She will be remembered for so many things: perfect holiday dinners, cocktail and dinner napkins while camping, wine glasses in the trailer, the very precise way that she expected potato salad to be made, and the gathering of the "girls" for making Christmas cookies.
Elaine was fortunate to be able to take multiple trips to New York and Las Vegas with her daughters. She loved the Broadway shows and the energy of New York, and the brilliant lights of Las Vegas. On the last trip to NYC, her granddaughter Jenny Marie, accompanied her gramma, along with her mom (Carol), and two aunties, Mary and Jane. Elaine never got over the white limo that met them at LaGuardia. She never stopped talking about that trip and the special memories that were made. For example, wheel chair rides down the hallway at the Belvedere Hotel, riding the wheel chair lift at the "Jersey Boys" theater, snuggling up with Jenny Marie in bed at the Belvedere, the chaos of McDonald's on Canal Street, and the tears shed at the 9/11 Memorial Site.
Elaine was 90 when she moved from her beloved townhome on Como Avenue to Primrose Retirement Community. She wanted a two-bedroom apartment so she would have a place for family to stay when they visited. She looked forward to rides up the North Shore, lunch at Grandma's Restaurant, or her favorite, a trip to Black Water Lounge to celebrate special occasions (or just for the fun of it.)
Elaine was a vibrant, independent, elegant woman. She had a large walk-in closet at Primrose jammed with beautiful clothes! She was a bona fide member of "The Fun Girls" and subscribed to the philosophy, there's a song for everything!
There are no words that can adequately express our loss and she will be forever in our hearts and live on though the stories her family will tell at future gatherings and camp fires.
She was preceded in death by her devoted husband of 59 years, Richard B. Halverson, her parents Frances and Charles Schwindeman, brother Charles Jr., and sisters Catherine, Mary, and Phyllis.
Elaine is survived by six children and their spouses: Carol and Larry Skoglund of Duluth, Tom and Jeanine Halverson of Ramsey, Robert and Christine Halverson of New Hope, Mary and William Smith of Brooklyn Park, Jane Halverson of Maple Grove, Joe and Michelle Halverson of Maple Grove. In addition she left nine grandchildren and their spouses: John and Jenny Lynn Anderson, Jennifer Marie and Bill Clark, Sarah Halverson and Mike Cole, Melody and Jim Anderson, Jonah Halverson, Derek Halverson, Bryan and Jennifer Joanne Halverson, Danielle Peterson, and Katie Halverson, and ten great-grandchildren: Michael and Joshua Anderson, Nathan, Chloe, and Nicholas Clark, Allysa Gandel, Zachary Cole, Carter Anderson, and Bennett and Brielle Halverson.
A celebration of Elaine's life will be held on Thursday, July 10th at 11:00 am with a visitation at 10:00 am at Jarvi-Dowd Funeral Home, 925 E. 4th St, Duluth. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to Solvay Hospice House (solvayhospicehouse.org
). The family would like to thank Solvay Hospice House for their loving and devoted care, the loving staff at Primrose Retirement Community (Nancy, Terrica, Jo, Hazel, Connie, Jake, Will, and all the Primrose staff), and Dr. David Sproat and his Assistant Jodi for their unending care and support of Elaine. To leave a memory of Elaine or words of support for her family please visit www.bellbrothersjarvidowd.com