Marie Louise Gelow Yesland (née) Petersen

image of Marie Yesland

Marie Yesland

Marie was born in Escanaba, Michigan June 7, 1922, to two Norwegian immigrants Josephine and Birger Petersen.  They moved to Seattle in 1925 where her father changed his occupation back from lumberjacking to his childhood occupation of fishing. This prompted moves and trips to be close to him as he moved with the fishing fleet.  In 1931 they moved to Ketchikan, Alaska using the fishing boat Eagle as transport with everyone including the dog being seasick in rough seas.  Ketchikan was described as 7 miles long and two feet wide.  It was built on the side of Deer mountain and is in a rain forest.  Between the rain and the mud, they lasted one year and then moved to Kirkland, buying a house and a car to get around the “country side”.  He fished for pilchards along the west coast down to San Francisco in 1938.  In 1941 the war caused submarine nets to be strung across the bay ending the fishing and so the family went home and the fishing fleet moved up the coast to Seattle in January 1942.

With the exception of 1931 in Ketchikan, Marie was educated in Seattle area public schools.  She enrolled at Lake Washington High School, graduating in 1940.  Marie furthered her education going on to graduate from secretarial school. She worked at the Buick Dealership and for an insurance agent in Seattle before meeting a handsome young man in his Navy uniform, Leo O. Gelow.  Leo and Marie were married in Seattle on June 28th, 1943.  They lived in Seattle where they had their first child (Gary) in 1944 followed by a second child (Gene) in 1948.

In 1948 they purchased property in Kirkland, moved to Houghton temporarily, and began to build their home, moving into the basement in 1949 with 5 and 1-1/2 years old boys while working to finish the rest of the house. They moved upstairs in 1950 with a newly installed furnace that fall, just in time to bring home their newly born third and last child (Jindy).  Marie loved to tell the story of her birth.  Living in Kirkland at that time, the shortest route was through Bellevue and over the only bridge at that time, I-90.  The third child was in a hurry and Leo had to stop midspan and go into the backseat to help. The truck driver behind them was livid, left his cab, came up to the window, took one look, turned sheet white, didn’t say a word, and went back to his truck.

Marie loved to travel and was thrilled to go to the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City with Leo.  She also loved to dance, and she and Leo were a good pair on the dance floor until his passing in 1971.

She traveled with friends until she met Clarence Yesland, where else but on the dance floor, and they became lifetime partners in dance and travel.  They were planning a long traveling honeymoon, and the harder Marie tried to keep the wedding date different from her first wedding, the more it seemed to be the only day to fit the schedule, so finally she gave up fighting it and they were married on June 28, 1983.  They were members of the Sons of Norway and were regulars at the monthly “Swedish pancake feed” and of course at their dances, and also at dances at the Maltby Grange Hall filled with lots of friends. They would hold a small dance at the house from time to time and musician friends would come and play fiddle, button box concertina, and such.  Between the two of them with a dictionary they could read (her) and write (him) Norwegian.  Sadly, this came to an end in 2008 when Clarence died and Marie became a widow again.

She outlived both her husbands and is survived by her children Gary Leo Gelow, Kirkland; Jindy Marie Gelow (Ray Adman), St Augustine, Fl; Gene Thomas Gelow (Virginia Blain), Edmonds; grandchildren Patrick (Raechelle), Juanita; and Olivia (Robert Schneider) and great-grandchildren Finnegan and Evelyn Schneider, Bremerton.

Marie eagerly anticipated the Golden Grads reunions (at least 50 years post high school) where she met old classmates over the past 28 years.  She enjoyed taking an early swim in Lake Washington on calm summer mornings “before the wind comes up”.  She spent many years in adult education classes learning to make herself shoes, refinish and upholster furniture, and create mosaics which became a particular passion.  Her home is filled with her mosaic pictures, flower pots, a duck decoy, and a lamp, all done in a wide variety of materials.  She wrote out her mother’s life story, but much to her children’s chagrin, declined to do her own.  She taught herself to make berry and dandelion wines, but after much experimenting switched to creating a citrus champagne that would pass muster and was served at her and Leo’s 25th wedding anniversary in their lake-front yard.  A cork when popped soared over the two-story house.

Marie and Leo also were members of the Meydenbauer Bay Yacht Club for many years.  They enjoyed potluck brunch parties on board boats of friends while rafting out on Husky football game days.  Marie would contribute a very welcome bottle of her home-made champagne for mimosas and one of her delicious home-made pies.  Marie was quite the baker using the many wild blackberries from nearby bushes and rhubarb from her mother’s plants.  The freezer was always well stocked with pies and jams.  Christmas always meant traditional and Norwegian cookies including Krumkake, Fattigmann, Kringla, Sandbakkels, and Lefsa.  She often tended her garden and her much loved Camellias that grew to over 20 feet tall, and the Giant Sequoia she planted that at present is 13+ feet in circumference and 50 feet high.

She loved animals and wild birds and not-so-wild ducks in the front yard.  However, the Canadian geese were another story.  To encourage them from leaving their natural “presents”, she walked behind them towards the lake giving any straggler a nudge from her foot in the tail feathers. She was a “dog person” owning a series of much adored canine companions throughout her life.

As a family, playing games and cards were a part of special occasions, and it was no surprise when in midlife she took up bridge.  She became very proficient, passing many happy hours playing into her 90’s with many wonderful friends.  Marie also found yoga in her early 50’s, and practiced yoga into her 90’s.  After many years of practice, she took up volunteering as an instructor to fill in and then as a regular at the Bellevue Senior Center once a week.  Even while on hospice she was still doing yoga stretches in bed and making her bridge contract in her mind.

Her son, Gary, resided with her for many years, caring for his mother, the house, and yard.  In her final months, she was tenderly cared for at home by her children.  She passed peacefully May 19, 2019 in her home of 71 years at the age of 96, with her two sons Gene and Gary at her side.  Marie lived a rich and full life and will be missed by all her many friends and family.  The family wishes to thank Evergreen Hospice, especially her wonderful nurse Jessica and aid Essa.  Marie wished no memorial service.

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