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Ethel Kristjanson Sigmar

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Ethel Kristjanson Sigmar Obituary

Ethel Sigmar, wife of Reverend Harald Sigmar, and matriarch of her Icelandic Kristjanson family passed away on February 16th. With the heart of a champion and the soul of a goddess, Ethel lived with the spirit of humor, grit, humility and grace. Authentic and true to her core, she recognized genius in all its forms from Einstein to Emmi. Emboldened with her abiding Christian faith, she never stopped seeking universal truths. Born in Wynyard, Saskatchewan April 14, 1916, Kristbjorg Ethel Kristjanson met Harald Sigmar, the love of her life, in first grade. Both the Sigmar and Kristjanson families eventually migrated to Mountain, North Dakota where Ethel and Harald graduated from Mountain High School. Ethel went on to study music and business at Park River Agriculture School, ultimately receiving her Teaching Certificate from Mayville State Teacher's College in 1936. She enjoyed a brief career in a one-room schoolhouse before marrying Harald Sigmar on June 15, 1940. Shortly after their wedding, the young couple moved to Philadelphia. Ethel supervised an orphanage for boys while Harald completed theological studies at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1943, Harald and Ethel moved to Ballard starting a small mission church, Calvary Lutheran, which served the Icelandic community in the Seattle area during World War II. During those years, three of their five children were born. The family and the ministry continued to grow in Gimli, Manitoba; Kelso, Washington; Reykjavik, Iceland; Vancouver, Tacoma, and Yakima, Washington.

Ethel most enjoyed her years as a mother, chef and hostess, providing significant support to her husband in his ministry. While in Yakima, she returned to her career, accepting a teaching post at The Place, an alternative high school. Returning to Ballard in 1977, Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church was their final full time ministry. Ethel also served as a founding member on the board of Seattle's Nordic Heritage Museum and was honored to be named the Icelandic Fjall Kona, bestowed upon an influential woman of the Icelandic community. Retiring from Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church in June of 1987, Ethel and Harald moved to Mount Vernon.

Ethel's interests included traditional needlework and Rosmaling, bridge, piano, sewing, reading and travel. Again, she supported her husband Harald while he served parishes in interim ministry in and around Mount Vernon. They later moved to Issaquah and Bellevue. Most recently she and Harald have resided in the Smith family home in California with their eldest daughter Kristin and family.

Wherever she lived, Ethel made home a beautiful and welcoming place where she and Harald received visitors from all over the world, old friends and new. Ethel, always a joy to visit with, was an intelligent listener with a wry sense of humor and an infectious laugh. Ethel and Harald recently enjoyed a four generation family celebration of their 70th Wedding Anniversary. May God bless her and keep her and give her Peace.

Ethel is survived by her husband of 70 years Harald Sigmar, as well as her youngest brother Ivan Kristjanson [Margaret]. Preceded in death by her son, Wallace Sigmar [Jean], Ethel is also survived by daughters Kristin Smith [Steven], Karen Mason [Richard], Thora Michels [David], and Emily Anne Sigmar; nine grandchildren and one great-grandson. Ethel was preceded in death by siblings Bill and Evelyn Kristjanson, Elvin and Margaret Sigmar Kristjanson, Svanfridur "Dolly" Kristjanson, Arthur Kristjanson [Beverly], Emily and KF Gudmundson, Valdimar Kristjanson [Nancy], brothers-in-law, George Sigmar and Reverend Eric Sigmar [Svava], and her Icelandic immigrant parents, Hannes and Stina Kristjanson.

A celebration of Ethel Kristjanson Sigmar's life will be held at Our Redeemer's Luther Church in Seattle at a future time. Remembrances in Ethel's honor may be made to The Nordic Heritage Museum, The Northwest Center, Hospice Caring Project of Santa Cruz County, The Mountain North Dakota Community Center, or Christ Lutheran Church of Aptos.

Arrangements under the direction of Mehl's Colonial Chapel, Watsonville.

Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Feb. 19, 2011
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