Ramona Ignell passed away peacefully in her home on Sunday morning, February 24, 2013, surrounded by her family following a long battle with breast cancer. Ramona was a Juneau resident for 62 years, and a much loved and admired wife, mother, grandmother as well as friend to many in our community.
Ramona was born March 1, 1931 in Morse, Wisconsin, a small logging town. During her younger years she lived in Los Angeles and northern Wisconsin before moving to Salem, Oregon where she attended high school, graduating from Canyonville Bible Academy as the Class Salutatorian. Following high school, she worked at First National Bank of Salem Oregon for a year before moving to Minneapolis to live with her sister where she enrolled in North Central Bible College. There she met Elmer Ignell and they were married on April 7, 1951.
In the fall of 1951 Elmer and Ramona moved to Juneau Alaska to be lay mission workers at Bethel Assembly of God. Ramona taught Sunday School and Vacation Bible School for many years, enjoying the opportunity to mentor younger girls. Her involvement touched all areas of church life including even posing as the Statute of Liberty on the church's Fourth of July float, which won the Grand Sweepstakes!
A passionate musician, Ramona was an accomplished pianist, singer and organist. For over five decades, she supported worship services, directed adult choirs, and was part of numerous musical groups, both as a singer and as an accompanist. One of her more notable musical events was as a member of the Harmonettes at the Alaska Statehood ceremony on July 4, 1959 where she joined with Florence Hansen and Ruth Sommers in singing the Alaska's Flag song.
Another one of Ramona's passions was supporting interdenominational Christian service ministries, bringing people together for Christian fellowship. She was one of the founders and the first president of Women's Aglow, an international and interdenominational women's fellowship group, leading Juneau's Aglow delegation in 1976 to a World Congress on the Holy Spirit in Israel.
She was passionate in supporting fellowship at local correctional institutions, helping out in men's and women's Bible studies at Lemon Creek for several decades. Beginning in 2000, Ramona and Ellen Campbell, a longtime friend and ministry partner, helped found Haven House, a non-profit ministry whose mission is to support the integration of women inmates back into society. Ramona served on the board and remained active in Haven House until recently.
Ramona also enjoyed a close relationship with many members in the Tlingit community throughout southeast Alaska. For years she ministered to families living in downtown and Douglas on Saturday mornings. She also played the piano for a Tlingit gospel singing group. The children of Ronald Sr., and Elsie John adopted Ramona and her husband Elmer as their father and mother. Ramona was given their mother's name Kaa Ju Hein, a most treasured honor to her.
Her greatest passion, however, was as a wife, mother and grandmother, enjoying her time with her six grandchildren. Preceded in death by her daughter, Sheryl, she is survived by her husband Elmer, her son and daughter in law Steve and Tammy of Seattle, Washington, her son and daughter in law Dave and Rose Ann of San Diego, California and grandchildren Staci, David, Stephanie, Jesse, Nicole, and Alex. Ramona is also survived by her sisters Blanche, Vicki, Chris, and Karen and brothers Jim, Clifford and Elmer.
The public is invited to a celebration of her life at Juneau Christian Center this coming Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 2:00 pm. There will be a reception following the service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made in memory of Ramona to Haven House, P.O. Box 20875 Juneau, AK 99802.
Published in The Juneau Empire on Feb. 28, 2013