Ellen Grude Skugstad | Obituary

September 5, 1935- May 12, 2024

Ellen Grude Skugstad passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her children on Sunday, May 12, Mother’s Day 2024. She was 88 years old.

Born in Oslo, Norway, September 5, 1935, as a young child she grew up during the German occupation. Her spirit was nevertheless joyful and infectious. By age 7, she was known as the best babysitter around, specializing in the tender care of babies and toddlers. At age 11, after begging her parents for a little brother, Baby Kalle was born. Ellen’s nurturing care for him was so gentle and loving that the nanny chose to leave claiming, “You don’t need me. You have Ellen!”

Ellen grew to be one of the daring young women of Norway who, keeping up with her older brother Rolf, would fearlessly ski jump, ice- skate with the male hockey team, and dive from the dock into the fjord just in time to dodge oncoming ferries and get into a mess of trouble. She even told stories of cross-country skiing by moonlight. She had a love for jazz and would spend countless hours waiting in line for tickets to see the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. She was a fabulous dancer and singer, a charming addition to any party.

After meeting at a jazz club and marrying Jan Erik Skugstad in Oslo, Ellen gave birth to baby Ellen Marie. The family traveled back and forth from Norway to America several times over the first eleven years of their marriage. In the U.S. they initially settled in Boulder, Colorado. Working in high heels as a waitress, Ellen helped pay for Jan Erik’s college tuition while managing to care for their baby daughter and her little brother, Lars Christian, born during a stint in Salt Lake City.

By 1968, the family moved to Mercer Island where Ellen became an active volunteer at Overlake Hospital and the Rotary Club, a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, an avid gardener, a skilled knitter of Nordic-style sweaters, a gifted homemaker and a kind neighbor.

In her 60s and 70s she worked as a nanny for the Huber Family of Mercer Island caring for Kyle, Steven, and Nicole as well as for the Thomas and Manlowe families. She also lovingly helped raise her own grandchild, Chanty Marie, until “TeeTee” reached school age. Invitations to Farmor’s (father’s mother) house always included Ellen’s fresh Norwegian waffles hot off the griddle – a favorite of grandkids Max and Lucy.

Making friends was a natural outcome of Ellen’s kindhearted openness to everyone. Each year beginning in September, she would launch her annual holiday phone calls to friends and relatives. Starting with Norway, she worked her way diligently through her long list of overseas and local loved ones. Everyone looked forward to her thoughtful annual calls.

Along with her lifelong international community she was devoted to her favorite grocery store clerks who she saw regularly, her service station friends, her hair stylist and salon team, her paper carrier, her housecleaner, and her condo neighbors, treating all much like family by listening to their life stories and sharing hers. Toward the end of her life, “I love everyone!” was her daily, if not hourly, proclamation.

Ellen is survived and mourned by her daughter Ellen Marie Skugstad and granddaughter Chanty Skugstad, her son Lars Skugstad, his wife Suzie Saliba Skugstad, and their children Max and Lucy Skugstad. She considered her many close friends her family and is mourned by countless others, too many to name here.

In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or a cancer cause of your choice in her memory.