Elsie Mae (Garthwaite) Boss, 1958

Elsie Mae (Garthwaite) Boss

April 30, 1936 – May 10, 2013

Elsie, age 77, died May 10 after a year-long struggle with ALS. She was born April 30, 1936, in Dubuque, Iowa, to Ralph Albert Garthwaite and Merle Irene Garthwaite (Quarne), both of whom preceded her in death. After retirement she lived with her husband, Allan, in Bend, Oregon, since 2002. There was a graveside service at Pilot Butte Cemetery on Thursday, May 16, and her memorial service was held Monday, May 20 at Trinity Lutheran Church and School (2550 NE Butler Market Rd.) in Bend. Memorials may be sent in the name of the school to Trinity Church, or to the ALS Association at 700 NE Multnomah, Suite 870, Portland, OR 97232.

Elsie attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., and received her B.A. degree in teaching from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. Elsie and Al were married August 21, 1960, in Rochester, Minn., and for the next 40+ years they moved to 11 different towns and cities across the West and Midwest, where she taught school in all of them. For those who knew her, it was clear that teaching little kids (and more than a few big ones) was both the love of her life and her calling. She had a unique ability and the patience to instill in her students a desire to read and learn, and to give them the confidence and skills to achieve their potential. Over the span of her career, she held full-time teaching positions in 12 public schools and three Lutheran schools in seven states. Her full-time positions ranged from teaching in a one-room schoolhouse in Kelly, Wyo., to large inner city schools in Oakland, Calif., and Spokane, Wash. Elsie’s results with the kids brought her numerous honors, including nomination for Idaho Teacher of the Year.

Other than teaching, the close friends she and Al made along the way were her next greatest joy. Christmas cards, 140 of them, never went out without a personal written message from Elsie, consistent with her belief that this was one way long distance relationships were nurtured. Her hobbies included decorating her home, antiquing with friends, gardening and travel, and she greatly enjoyed hosting her exchange students and teachers from Barbados, Japan and Micronesia. And any penniless, homeless biologist that Al dragged in from his Forest Service job, or any struggling pre-med or other student needing a home away from home, was quickly pulled under her wing and assigned to the next vacant bedroom – and sometimes stayed for years, all the while benefitting from her unflinching advice on how lives are best lived.

She is survived by Allan, her husband of 52 years; two daughters, Jenny and Darla; a brother, Gene Garthwaite of Hartland, Vt.; four grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren. Elsie was preceded in death by her sister, Beverly, in 2010.