Fresh Baked Bread! Lemon Pie! Little Pink Truck!
These were signals Ellen Nelson, our First Spotlight Senior, was "in the house".

In 1970, Ellen drove to Alaska with four of her children to visit her sister, Donna Krier and other family members. She had taken a month's leave from her factory job in Wisconsin, dug into her backyard bank, loaded her kids in the car and the $300 needed to cross the Canadian Border at that time and headed North. She said, "We only slept one night in a hotel, other than that we drove all the time." Everything went well until they got to Haines Junction, when the water pump went out on their car and they had to spend a couple of days there. Ellen said, "My dream was always to go to Montana or Alaska." Her family encouraged her to stay in Alaska and,"She's never looked back".

Her first job in Alaska was in the Mail Department at the University. She then worked for the Alaska Motor Vehicle Department until her retirement. Ellen's bread and lemon pies have been a drawing card for the Center's Bake Sales for many years. If you want a loaf of bread or a pie you had better be first in line. It is always a surprise to see what kind of bread or pie, other than lemon, she will bring each time. She said, "I started making bread when I was 11. My Mother cooked for various organizations at the University of Wisconsin in Madison and I stick with the recipes I got from her. I'm not an adventurous cook."

When asked what was her favorite thing to make, she said "It's a toss-up between pie and bread. I like making pies, especially lemon, because people like them so much. However, making bread gives me such a feeling of accomplishment".

Ellen and her sister, Donna Krier, provided many a Saturday luncheon for the Center's special events. A favorite was the Chicken and Noodle Soup, which was made, the old fashioned way. You start with a stewing hen and build on that.

Ellen has put "many a mile" on her little pink truck between Fairbanks and North Pole. The weather had to be pretty severe for her to miss a Board Meeting or an event going on at the Center. She has been a member of Santa's Seniors for 15 years and until recently has served on the Board.

When asked why she drove all the way from Fairbanks to North Pole, she said, "Because I enjoy the people and feel very much at home here."Thanks to members like Ellen, who bring their life experiences and willingness to help out, our Center is entering it's 26th year.

Interviewed and written by Pat Thurman

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