Ellen Mary Halvorson, age 100, of Cowgill, MO passed away Sunday morning, June 7th, 2020 at her granddaughter's home in Excelsior Springs, MO, surrounded by loving family. She was born on May 19, 1920 in Disley, Saskatchewan the daughter of William and Eliza (Bates) Levitt. Ellen lived near Hayter, Alberta throughout her early years. She and Alfred were married on March 14, 1959 in Ribstone, Alberta. They moved to Independence, Missouri in 1961 until they bought a farm near Cowgill, Missouri in 1962. She was a member of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter of Day Saints. Ellen worked on a farm throughout her life. She enjoyed playing piano for her family band in her younger years. She was a 4H leader. She loved to bake and cook for her loved ones. She was an avid reader and loved tending to her garden.
Ellen is preceded in death by her husband Alfred, her parents William and Eliza Levitt, brothers and sister in laws, Bill and Faye Levitt, Norman and Kathleen Levitt, Alvin and Mable Levitt, sister and brother in law Jean and John Cornish, and grandson in law Ceddrick Newsome.
Ellen is lovingly remembered by her daughter, Lori (Darren) Hicks of Cowgill and son Neil Halvorson of Cowgill. Ellen was affectionately known as “Grammy” to her grandchildren, Braya (Daniel) Qualman of Lawson, Brenna Newsome of Excelsior Springs, Brett Hicks of Cowgill, Ambrielle (Andrew) Hennager of Wood Heights. Grammy adored her great grandchildren Liam Hennager, Mordecai Qualman, Ryla Hennager and Silas Newsome. She is survived by one sister in law, June Halvorson Evans and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial Contributions are suggested to Lori Hicks to purchase books for Grammy's great-grandchildren's school Libraries in her memory, in care of the funeral home. Graveside Service: 3 PM, Wednesday, June 10th, 2020, Cowgill Cemetery, Cowgill, MO. There is no scheduled family visitation. Friends may call 9 AM to 1 PM, Wednesday at the funeral home. Arrangements are entrusted to the care and direction of Stith Family Funeral Home, Polo. Online guestbook at www.stithfamilyfunerals.com
THE FOLLOWING IS A STORY FEATURED BY THE EXCELSIOR SPRINGS STANDARD FOR ELLEN'S 100TH BIRTHDAY
Ellen Halvorson, Centurian in Excelsior Springs
by Courtney Cole // May 24, 2020 //
On Tuesday, May 19th, Excelsior Springs citizen Ellen Halvorson turned 100 years old! Currently a resident at Valley Manor, her birthday celebrations had to be put on hold due to the precautionary measures nursing homes are taking out of risk of the coronavirus. While family was unable to visit directly with her, they were able to share some information regarding her story and the great life that she has had here.
Lori Hicks, Ellen’s daughter, shared that her parents were originally farmers from Alberta, Canada. When her parents married in 1959, they came to Independence, Missouri for the honeymoon and to visit her mother’s brother who was living there at the time. During World War II, Ellen’s husband Alfred, received a deferment from serving because he was a farmer. When a drought hit Canadian farmers in 1961, the Halvorson’s wanted to return to the Missouri area. Originally looking for a farm in Excelsior Springs but landing on one in Cowgill, their farm included wheat, cattle, pigs, and oats and grains.
The Halvorson’s had their daughter Lori a month after having moved here and she has a younger brother named Neil. Growing up, she said that her parents never felt that they should take leadership roles because they were immigrants. That didn’t keep Ellen from being involved with school activities, though. She was a good baker and often made molasses cookies and homemade bread for activities, such as the Polo Music Boosters Banquet.
“Grammy” Ellen’s cooking is something that Ellen’s grandchildren have also enjoyed. For Lori’s oldest daughter, Ellen made 500 or 600 hot rolls for her wedding reception. Grandson Brett Hicks remembers the cookies, apple pies, and hot rolls that she fed the grandkids growing up. Granddaughter Ambrielle Hennager, remembering when she was younger, shared that Grammy Ellen always loved to bake. She said, “Oh, I know. EVERY grandma loves to bake. Only difference is, my grandma literally is the best at it!”
Growing up she learned in a one room schoolhouse and rode a horse to school. Because the girls couldn’t wear pants at the time, her legs under her dress were frozen by the time she got there in the winters. Her siblings and she had a family band, with each of them playing an instrument. Ellen on piano, they would often take their gig to community dances. Throughout her life she has been an avid reader and letter writer, until her eyesight gave up on her. She’s never had a television and only got a radio late in life. While in the states, she’s never had a drivers license, though she drove before while in Canada.
Ellen never let her age get in the way of what was needing done on the farm. Even in her 70’s, Lori said, her mother was shoveling grain and continued farming. It wasn’t until she was almost 80 that she retired. Since breaking a hip and damage to her knee, Ellen has been living at Valley Manor in Excelsior Springs. The staff at the Manor said, “We enjoy hearing about her life through rougher times than COVID. It really makes us all appreciate life as we know it.”
Now a Centurian, Ellen Halvorson is a woman who has lived through the Great Depression and remembers when Jello was originally hitting the stores in Canada. Now she can add a great pandemic to her list of experiences she’s had along the way.
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