Eleanor Louise Steffens, daughter of Jesse and Lucille (Barber) Olson was born March 17, 1929 in Dawson, MN. She was baptized in the First Presbyterian Church in Dawson. She graduated from Redwood Falls High School in Redwood Falls, MN in 1947 where she enjoyed choral music, swing band and marching band. She graduated from Macalester College in 1951 with a Bachelors degree in Elementary Education. Ellie taught kindergarten and second grace in Albert Lea, White Bear Lake, and Duluth, MN.
In July 1955 she was united in marriage to Vern Steffens in Redwood Falls, MN. They had two children, Susan and John. Upon their marriage, they lived in Duluth, MN where she taught kindergarten and Vern worked as a sales manager at Arrow Chevrolet. In 1960 the couple moved to Windom, MN where they purchase Anderson Chevrolet-Olds. Ellie and Vern raised their family in Windom. They joined the United Presbyterian Church. Together, Ellie and Vern launched the Young 80s Club, a church based social group for young married couples. Ellie was active in the community as a Girl Scout Leader, sang in the community musicals (Fiddler on the Roof, Music Man, Once upon a Mattress, etc.) and Sweet Adelines. She served as co-chair of Cottonwood County Republicans. She was a member of the First Presbyterian Church where she was a choir member for 20 years, directed the Children’s Choir and taught Sunday School. As a member of the United Presbyterian Women she served she served as President of UPW. She participated in an exchange mission to Colombia and Panama. She served on the Synod of Lakes and Prairies Committee on Aging. In 1983, the Steffens purchased the Chevrolet-Buick dealership in Faribault, MN. Here they joined and were active in Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. Ellie enjoyed activates with the Red Hatters, Monday Club, Travelers Club, and many cherished many friends.
Ellie was a devoted member of the P. E. O. Sisterhood since 1950. She served her local chapter as an officer many years and she served on the Executive Board from 1986-1993, as State President in 1992-1993. She served on the P. E. O. Home Fund Board 1995-2000. Ellie was a member of A.A.U.W. since 1961, and received recognition for 50 year membership in 2011.
Ellie’s parents built a summer home on Ottertail Lake in 1933 when she was 5 years old. She enjoyed her summers on the northern Minnesota lake and shared this with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. For the past 30+ years, Ellie and Vern enjoyed wintering in AZ.
Ellie was a loving and devoted mother and wife. She enjoyed her family, many friends, social events, music, and needlework. Ellie’s travels took her to 26 countries (Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Columbia, Panama, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Antigua, Bermuda, Cuba, Jamaica, USVI, Aruba, Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand).
Her last years were afflicted with Parkinsonism and severe arthritis. Somehow she was able to rise above her pain and always greeted everyone with a smile. Ellie loved to spend time with her family and friends. She loved watching clouds and butterflies. Ellie passed into the arms of Jesus, at her home in Cottonwood, AZ, on Saturday August 1, 2015.
Ellie is survived by her loving husband, Vern, her daughter, Dr. Susan Grace and her husband Dan Tharp of Clarkdale, Arizona, and her son John of Faribault, MN, and six grandchildren and many great-grandchildren. Ellie was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, John Olson.