Myrtle Hildegarde Thorsen: June 30, 1920 – Dec. 29, 2016


Myrtle Hildegarde (Johnson) Thorsen, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother, passed away Dec. 29 at the age of 96, surrounded by her loving family.

Myrtle was born on June 30, 1920 at her parent’s home in Clinton, Washington. Until her death, Myrtle was the oldest-living woman who was born in Clinton.

Myrtle attended Deer Lake (grammar) School, where she met her late husband, Henry Thorsen. Myrtle graduated from Langley High School in 1938. In high school Myrtle was a cheerleader for four years and active in many sports.

Myrtle married Henry Thorsen shortly after high school in 1939. Soon after marriage they moved into their Clinton home, built by Myrtle’s father in 1940, where they started a family and raised three children.

Myrtle worked at Whidbey Telephone Company for more than 20 years as a telephone operator, and became chief operator in the era when operators worked an actual switchboard. Part of her job was memorizing all the different ringing combinations used to reach party-line customers. She once said she could be in a store and recognize everyone just by his or her voice.

Myrtle and Henry loved traveling. From boating to RV’ing, they took many trips with their friends and family.

Myrtle and Henry lived in the same Clinton home for more than 68 years. They were married for almost 70 years before Henry passed away at the age of 90 in 2008.

Myrtle was preceded in death by her parents Albert and Emma Johnson, her sister Mildred Guffey, her husband Henry Thorsen and her son Danne Thorsen.

Myrtle is survived by her brother, Milton (Jeannie) Johnson, daughter Diane (Allan) Haven, son Bill (Naida) Thorsen and her daughter-in-law Judy Workman.

She is also survived by her grandchildren, Kim (Keith) Iverson, Kristi (Steve) Ridgeway, Dodi Thompson, Deborah (Kevin) McDonald, Eric (Colleen) Thorsen, Katie (Jason) Grindon, Ole (Danielle) Thorsen and Amanda (Andrew) Williams; her great-grandchildren, Sondra Stout, Lena Casey, Samantha Thompson, Elle Larkin, Kevin McDonald, Wesley Thorsen, Isaac Rubenstein, Casey Thorsen, Henry Grindon, William Grindon, Cole Thorsen, Thea Williams, Estelle Thorsen, Tula Williams and Sawyer Thorsen; as well as seven great-great-grandchildren.

Many of Myrtle’s great-grandchildren are sixth generation Whidbey Islanders.

Myrtle was a loving wife, devoted mother and doting grandmother. She was a wonderful cook, and her secret Swedish meatball recipe continues to be a favorite dish at family gatherings.

The family would like to thank Home Place in Oak Harbor for the amazing and loving care they gave Myrtle over the last few years.

Funeral and graveside services were held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 6 at Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church in Clinton. A reception followed at 1 p.m. at Holmes Harbor Rod and Gun Club.


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