Following a long, full life, our mother passed on May 16, 2023. Elsa arrived on August 7, 1924, in Poland, Ohio, the seventh of eight children born to Edwin and Alena (Namie) Pekkanen who emigrated from Finland in the 19th century.
Having graduated from Poland Seminary High School, Elsa borrowed $500 from her mother and left the farm to pursue a Registered Nursing (RN) degree in Youngstown during WWII. She met our father, Frank Blaine Metting, M.D., at Crile Military Hospital in Cleveland. They wed on June 10, 1948, and were together until our father’s untimely death in 1986.
Elsa gave birth to Blaine (1950) and Glynis (1954) in Akron, Ohio while living in nearby Wadsworth where Frank had an old-fashioned, private practice in his hometown. In 1955, our family moved to Saudi Arabia where dad administered an ARAMCO clinic in the Persian Gulf company town of Abqaiq on top of what to this day is the largest oil field on Earth. While living in The Kingdom, our parents made many life-long friends and traveled throughout Europe and the middle east.
In 1959, we returned to the states where our father earned one of the first occupational medicine degrees offered anywhere from the University of Pittsburgh. In 1962, our family moved to Spokane when dad became medical director for Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation. During this first time in the Spokane area, Elsa was head scrub nurse for the world-famous Berg open-heart team at Deaconess Hospital.
In 1976, Elsa and Frank moved back to Ohio, where dad became medical director for Marathon Oil Company in Findlay. Elsa moved back to Washington (again!) in 2001 to be near her children and grandchildren. Including six years with her grandson Beau, she lived in her Liberty Lake home on the first fairway at Meadowood golf course before moving to Orchard Crest Assisted Living in 2022.
Elsa was an outstanding female athlete well before her time. As a young girl, she played baseball with her older brothers, her father, her Uncle Lawrence, her brother-in-law Lisle (who taught her to lift weights!) and other young men from neighboring farms in Mahoning County. She enjoyed major league ballgames in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and once saw Bob Feller strike out Lou Gehrig! This led to a short, successful career as a semi-pro softball pitcher in coastal Virginia after receiving her RN. In 1961, she coached a teenage girls softball team in Pittsburgh (Blaine was batboy), taking a last place team from bottom to top winning the greater Allegheny County Championship in a game played at night under the lights!
Mother learned to figure skate on hometown quarry ice as a child. She loved ice-dancing and was noticed by Olympian Dick Button. Of this, nothing came. However, she enjoyed one Christmas season skating at Rockefeller Center in Manhattan while at Cornell Weill Hospital when her nursing supervisor encouraged her to go home and marry her young man. That she did. Thanks, Mom!
How about bowling? Elsa and Frank took up the game in Saudi Arabia because it was too hot outside. She quickly became Abqaiq women’s champion. After moving to Pittsburgh, she finished third in Pennsylvania, going to the BPAA nationals in Florida, 1960s beehive hairdo and all! She bowled extensively in the greater Spokane area in the 1960s and 70s. She later won a car in a bowling tournament in northwestern Ohio (granted, it was a Chevette).
And golf? Elsa and Frank took up golf after moving from Spokane back to Ohio in 1976. Within a few years, mom was Findlay Country Club Champion and once won her age and handicap flight at the Ohio State Amateur! She golfed in many states and countries including the Virgin Islands, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, once playing the old course at St. Andrews, Scotland. Coming once within two strokes of shooting her age, she golfed in Liberty Lake until she was 92.
Mother’s family always came first. Labor Day with the Elder clan in Wisconsin. Thanksgivings with two dozen Pekkanens across three generations at her home in Findlay. Easter in Tulsa and Christmas and New Year celebrations in Washington state. Over many years at “the Condo” on Mt. Spokane, mom and dad, Blaine and Glynis, and all four grandchildren learned to ski. Two memorable gatherings were the 1995 Pekkanen family reunion in Ohio and Elsa’s 80th birthday in Liberty Lake.
Elsa was raised in the Finnish Lutheran Church. She embraced faith her entire life. In 1962, our family joined the congregation at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Spokane. Mother rejoined Bethlehem when moving back from Ohio in 2001 and attended services at Peace Lutheran Church toward the end of her life.
Elsa was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Frank, and older siblings Sylvia Stoner, Gertrude Elder, George, William, Walter and Leo Pekkanen, and younger sister Elma Ramsey, all of Ohio. She is survived by her children Blaine Metting (Ann McLaughlin), Mica WA and Glynis Bakken, Spokane Valley, her grandchildren Frank Metting, Bothell WA, Beau Metting, Denver CO, Luke Bakken (Margaret Bowers), Spokane, and Devon (Peter) Gay, Spokane Valley, by great-grandchildren Sky and Silas Metting, Bothell, by Abbey and Lilly Gay, Spokane Valley, and many nieces, nephews and great-nieces and nephews in Ohio, Wisconsin, California, Oklahoma, Georgia, South Carolina, Colorado, New Hampshire and British Columbia.
Blaine and Glynis wish to thank Zugec Medical Clinic staff, Spokane, for their outstanding professional care and true friendship over many decades. We also thank staff at Orchard Crest in Spokane Valley for our mother’s loving care this past year and Hospice of Spokane during her final days. A Lutheran memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m., Wednesday, June 28 at Peace Lutheran Church, 4124 N. Harvard Road, Otis Orchards WA, to be followed by placing of ashes beside her husband at Riverview Memorial Cemetery overlooking the Spokane River.