By HDN Staff
SPOKANE, Wash. Esther Wagner Ellingson, 85, died Tuesday, April 9, 2002, of a massive stroke.
A memorial service and reception was held on April 12 at Central Lutheran Church in Spokane.
Esther was born Sept. 21, 1916, in Havre to Olga Marie and Paul Ragnvald. She was raised in Havre and was a straight A student. She graduated from Havre High School in 1934. She was baptized and confirmed in Norwegian Lutheran Church, later First Lutheran Church of Havre. She became a pianist and later organist at the church.
She married Gustav "Gus" Wagner in the Havre church on July 15, 1938. They moved to Dillon, Missoula, Hot Springs, Ronan and Kellogg, Idaho. They finally settled in Spokane in 1943.
They joined St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Spokane. Esther became the choir director and church organist and played for services, weddings, and funerals for many families in Spokane for nearly 50 years. She also worked as secretary to the principals at Browne and Willard schools. Esther and Gus started the Church Film Service in 1947. He died in 1964.
On July 31, 1977, Esther married John Ellingson at St. Peter's Lutheran Church.
Esther became the first woman to be president of the Christian Film Distributors Association, serving in that position from 1984 to 1986. She sold the film service business in 1991.
Esther was an active member of Central Lutheran Church, Sons of Norway and the Spokane American Legion Post #9 Auxiliary.
She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Gustav Wagner; brother, Robert Paul "Wiggy" Ragnvald of Havre in May 2000.
Survivors include her husband, John Ellingson of Spokane; sons, Robert and Gary of Marble, Colo., and Don of Stanwood, Wash.; sister, Bernice Hoveland Hardy of Bethesda, Md.; stepsons, John and Larry Ellingson; eight grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren.