Florence Ekstrand, 101

Florence Lind Ekstrand, age 101, of Mount Vernon, WA, formerly of Cokato, died peacefully Friday, Dec. 14, 2018, in Mount Vernon.

The youngest of five siblings, Florence was born Oct. 18, 1917, on a farm in Stockholm Township, rural Cokato, to Swedish immigrant parents, Edward and Alma Lind.

Because she had already learned to read, she was promoted to third grade within two weeks after starting school. Consequently, she was only 15 years old when she graduated as valedictorian of the class of 1933 at Cokato High School.

Florence studied journalism for two years at Macalester College in St. Paul, before taking a job as a reporter at the Cokato Enterprise, where her mentor was editor and publisher Carlton Lee.

Florence married Mauritz A. Ekstrand from French Lake Township Sept. 18, 1938, at Stockholm Lutheran Church, where Florence had also been baptized and confirmed. They lived in several communities in Minnesota and Montana during the early years of their marriage, before settling in Kalispell, MT, in 1950.

Florence raised her four children while working as a free-lance writer, placing numerous stories in youth magazines published by church organizations, and poems in various publications. When the family settled in Seattle in 1963, Florence served as editor for two weekly newspapers, and also wrote and self-published her first book, “Scandinavian Home Cooking,” a small volume of stories and recipes that sold more than 250,000 copies.

Florence retired in 1981, to devote full time to her publishing company, Welcome Press, eventually producing 10 books of her own, and two by other authors, mostly on topics related to the Scandinavian culture.

After Mauritz died in 1981, Florence began making space available in her home for young people to live, including college students and refugees from the Eritrea-Ethiopia war. The refugee community came to her aid for several months in 2005, after Florence suffered a debilitating stroke.

Florence is survived by her four children and their families, as well as nieces and nephews within the Cokato area.

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