Elna Evans Obituary

Elna Judith Evans
Elna Judith Evans

October 12, 1922 - June 14, 2020
Born in Comstock, Minnesota
Resided in Anchorage, Alaska


Anchorage, Alaska, resident Elna Judith Evans, 97, died on June 14, 2020, at the Anchorage Pioneer Home.

Elna was born on Oct. 12, 1922, at a stagecoach stop and farm near Comstock, Minn., to Oline and Arnt Bye, Norwegian immigrants. She graduated from high school in Moorhead, Minn., from Interstate Business College in Fargo, N.D., and from the Lutheran Bible Institute in Minneapolis.

Elna worked as a secretary in Fargo, Denver and Minneapolis before traveling to Anchorage in 1952 via Alaska Steamship Company steamship. In Anchorage, Elna was secretary for the Anchorage Station Commander of the Alaska Communication System (ACS), operated at the time by the Army Signal Corps.

At the ACS, she became acquainted with Omar Kenneth "Ken" Evans while watching the cloud of ash coming toward Anchorage after the eruption of Mount Spurr on July 9, 1953. Their first date was an airplane flight over Mount Spurr three days later. Elna and Ken married on Sept. 10, 1955, at Central Lutheran Church in Anchorage.

Elna retired in 1957 to raise her family. She was a devoted and loving mother who, while caring for her children, modeled strong moral values as well as community and civic responsibility. She encouraged family togetherness by cooking daily suppers served around the kitchen table and organizing many activities, including morning calisthenics, music training, Christmas skits and frequent hiking and camping trips.

At Central Lutheran Church, Elna served as congregation secretary, and Sunday school teacher and pianist; she also held leadership positions in the Central Lutheran Church Women's group and was president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (ELCA) Alaska Women's Guild. Elna transferred her membership to Anchorage Lutheran Church in 1994, where she continued serving her Lord in similar ways, including spearheading the development of the church library.

Elna enjoyed traveling with Ken to visit friends and family around the U.S. and beyond; hiking and berry picking - she was Alaskan to the core; and attending concerts and operas. She was one of the last remaining participants in a round robin letter that was circulated among her pre-marriage friends for nearly 60 years.

Elna's Norwegian heritage influenced her personality in many ways, and her son had many chuckles listening to Prairie Home Companion's descriptions of Minnesota Lutheran attributes, convinced it was written specifically about his mom. She taught many to make the Norwegian specialty potato lefse, and it was a family tradition to make it every Christmas season; the lefse never lasted to the New Year.

She strove for perfection in everything, but was modest in all her achievements. Although the last years of her life presented many challenges, most notably blindness, she never complained and accepted her hardships with grace.

Elna was preceded in death by Ken; and her sister, Marion (Bye) Johnson.

She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, David and Diana Evans of Anchorage; daughter, Judi Childress of Greer, S.C.; brother, John Bye of Moorhead; as well as a number of nieces and nephews.

Elna will be buried next to Ken during a private ceremony at Angelus Memorial Park in Anchorage.

Memorial gifts may be given to Glaucoma Research Foundation, the Alaska Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Access Alaska or the Anchorage Lutheran Church.

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