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MALFRID BJORNAALI SVENDSEN


1926 - 2019
MALFRID BJORNAALI SVENDSEN Obituary
February 3, 1926 -
October 10, 2019

Malfrid Bjornaali Svendsen passed away peacefully October 10th with family by her side.

She was born February 3, 1926 in Hemnesberget, Norway about 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle to Anna and Oddmund Bjornaali. Mom was the youngest of three sisters and two brothers.

As an infant, Mom's family moved to the farm in Sund, a couple of miles south of Hemnesberget. There she learned to work hard as some of her many tasks were carrying water and food uphill to the fox farm overlooking their home.

Mom was a fast knitter as a young lady. As a result, in 1939 she knit numerous pairs of shooting mittens for the Finnish army fighting the Soviets. Many Finnish soldiers had warm hands due to her efforts.

April 9, 1940 Norway was invaded by the German Army. Hemnesberget was invaded soon after. The fighting for Hemnes ended at Mom's farm the day following a German Marine landing at Sund with Norwegian and British troops retreating towards Mo i Rana. Our Grandmother counted 15 German soldiers carried on stretchers away from the farm. British and Norwegian soldiers suffered similar casualties. There are nine British soldiers buried in the Hemnesberget cemetery. Bullet holes remain unrepaired to this day in her family's farmhouse so no one will forget what happened there.

Now began five years of German occupation. Because of the strategic location of their farm, German soldiers were camped there on and off for the entire war, with German officers living in the farmhouse with the family.

It would be a lengthy account to go into detail of all that happened to Mom and the farm during that time. Suffice it to say that it profoundly affected our mother for the rest of her life.

Towards the end of the war Malfrid moved to Lillehammer to further her education. Because the Germans had imprisoned many teachers, she taught school there for a short period of time.

Near the end of the war she returned to the farm and was there when the war was over. While there was now peace, times were difficult for Norway as it began recuperating from the years of German occupation.

While studying and working in Mo i Rana, Mom met and married our father, Bjorn Snefjella and had her first son Stein. Bjorn was employed as a cattle truck driver and one day Mom told him that she was tired of washing cow manure off his clothes by hand and that he had to get a better job.

As employment opportunities were limited, they decided to emigrate to Brazil. Relatives persuaded them it would be better to go Seattle where Bjorn had two uncles who could help them get established.

Malfrid and Stein came to Stanwood in November 1951, six months after Bjorn, where the family established their first home and where she made many life-long friends.

A few years later they started Ericksen and Svendsen Mill Company with Elmer and Lucy Ericksen. While Bjorn and Elmer were waiting to acquire their first property to log, Bjorn, Malfrid, and Stein visited Norway for six months. Upon their return they moved to Conway and the new business was underway with Mom as its bookkeeper.

While expecting a son, Arne, who was born in 1959, they decided to buy a new home in Mount Vernon on Sunset Lane. She was living there in her later years prior to moving to Mira Vista Care Center.

In the middle 1970's Malfrid and Bjorn separated and later divorced. She first worked as a hostess at the Hatch Cover Restaurant in Anacortes. She then was a cook for four shipwrights in Sandpoint, Alaska during the fishing seasons. She was a great person for the job because she was a good cook of hearty meals for hard working men and had a tough personality that could stand up to any abuse they threw at her.

She decided that cooking for four spoiled guys in Sandpoint was probably not in her long term best interests and began a lengthy career in real estate, starting at Best Reality in Mount Vernon and later moving to Remax/Bay Reality in LaConner. Because of her experience in the sawmill business she had many friends in the logging business and specialized in selling larger tracts of land rather than homes.

Mom retired at age 72 to spend time relaxing at home. Red was her favorite color and she loved red geraniums in the front planter as well as red roses in the back yard.

She and Bjorn had traveled extensively during their marriage including trips to Norway, the Mediterranean, and Asia. She now had the time to visit her family in Norway more frequently, returning every couple of years to visit. Her sisters, nieces, and nephews also came to visit her in Mount Vernon. Four nieces came to see her after she turned 90.

Mom loved to bake cookies for Christmas and spent years teaching Jana and others to make Norwegian treats. Mom baked a cake called Tropisk with her mother's recipe which she did not want to give up to Jana. Eventually she taught us. Now the best baker in the family, her grandson Svend's wife Caitlin, is carrying on the tradition of baking it.

She loved her Norwegian heritage and instilled her love of Norway to her two sons, Arne and Stein. She also gave her traditional Norwegian dress (Bunad) to her granddaughter, Kjersti.

Takk for Alt, Mom! You were a wonderful Oldemor, Bestemor, and Mor. We and all who knew her will miss her greatly.

Malfrid is survived by her children, Arne Svendsen and Stein and Jana Svendsen; grandchildren Svend and Caitlin Svendsen of Bayview, Kjersti and Justin Lopez of Kirkland; her four great-grandchildren Anders, Connor, Keely, and Ava; and many nieces and nephews in Norway.

Malfrid was preceded in death by her parents, Anna and Oddmund Bjornaali, her brothers Svein and Atle, and her sisters Aud and Bjorg.

We are deeply indebted to those at Mira Vista Care Center who kindly looked after Mom during her lengthy stay there. While Mom enjoyed flowers, she would be pleased to have memorials sent to Nordic Heritage Museum 2655 NW Market St. Seattle, WA 98107,

A Memorial Service honoring and remembering Mom's life will be held October 25th at 1:00 PM at First Evangelical Lutheran Church 2015 E Blackburn, Mount Vernon, WA 98274.

A reception and light lunch will follow the service. You may offer your condolences and share memories of Malfrid with her family online at www.kernfuneralhome.com.
Published in Skagit Valley Herald on Oct. 20, 2019
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