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Ellamae P. Safford

Ellamae P. Safford

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KALISPELL — Ellamae P. Safford, 88, passed away Oct. 3, 2004, at her home in Kalispell.

The several weeks preceding her death were spent with daily visits with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. All had joyous times.

Ellamae was born in Lindsay, Calif., on Sept. 8, 1916, to Marion Santway and Oscar Elmer Poston. She met her husband, John William Safford, at Washington State University in Pullman and they were married in 1937. After both graduated, they moved to Montana, where they raised three sons and a daughter in Butte, Missoula, Bozeman and Helena.

During that time, Ellamae was a wonderful mom, kept the home fires burning and taught French and Spanish in a Helena junior high school as John pursued his career in veterinary medicine. John had taught his sons the fine art of fly fishing and Ellamae was in charge of the unruly boys as the family spent many fantastic days camping and fishing along the Gallatin River. She dodged, not always successfully, more than one misguided cast.

After retirement in 1973, Ellamae and John moved to their home on Flathead Lake, a place that quickly became a favored gathering spot for children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Their 24 years together at the lake were filled with family visits, gardening, fishing, swimming (Ellamae and kids only — water was far too cold for John!) and boating. One of the most prized gifts her children would receive annually was a case of canned, smoked kokanee salmon caught and prepared by Ellamae and John. Winters were frequently spent touring the United States and Mexico in their Airstream. When not traveling, Ellamae would drive to Kalispell once a week as a volunteer for the Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

Following John's death in 1997, Ellamae moved to Kalispell, where she quickly made many new friends. Her time was spent visiting with family, playing bridge with friends, volunteering at the hospital and quilting. Ellamae took up the latter at the age of 82 and quickly became very accomplished, sharing her quilting passion with her daughter. All of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren received treasured quilts. During the last several years, Ellamae would escape the Montana winters, traveling to El Paso, Texas, to stay with her daughter. Mother and daughter went on several cruises together including a quilting cruise early this year.

She is survived by John, Jr. and his wife, Sarah; Bob and his wife, Lori Bell, both in Kalispell; Tom and his wife, MaryAnn, on Whidbey Island, Wash.; and Mary Sue Stevens in El Paso, Texas. In addition to her four children, Ellamae is survived by nine grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

Ellamae will be remembered as a wonderful wife, mom, teacher, and friend who has given all who have known her a lifetime of joyous memories. She will be missed.

Her children are establishing a memorial for Ellamae and John, Sr. at the Flathead Valley Community College Arboretum. Her family suggests that donations be made to Home Options Hospice, 175 Commons Loop, Suite 100, Kalispell, MT 59901.

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