February 8, 1928 - September 5, 2015
Frieda Elsie (Miller) Jordan was the youngest of eight children born to Henry and Magdalene Miller, on the family dairy farm at Ten Mile (north of Bellingham). Frieda’s life reflected the 20th century technological revolution in a very personal way, from a childhood without running water or electricity to a multi-faceted career managing computer-integrated offices. Frieda had many talents and abilities, including extraordinary organizational and business skills, but her life was most deeply shaped by her love of learning and teaching, her music, her family, and her faith. Frieda started her education in a two-room school, and after six weeks she was advanced from first to second grade. By the time she was in fourth grade she was tutoring first graders; in fifth grade (at a larger school) she was asked to tutor a classmate, and by seventh grade she was correcting papers and doing other work for the first-grade teacher. She was asked to write the program for her eighth grade class graduation, and also served as Master of Ceremonies for that event. More significantly, a traveling Works Projects Administration teacher gave young Frieda some piano and pump organ lessons. Within a short time Frieda was regularly accompanying Sunday worship at Ten Mile Chapel, where the family attended services; Frieda continued to play piano and organ for church events for the rest of her life. High school brought great challenges for Frieda, as well as further opportunities. Several immediate family members became ill with tuberculosis, resulting in the family farm being quarantined, and Frieda’s household duties increased exponentially. World War II also curtailed many regular high school activities because of rationing, and many of her teachers (and older classmates) left to help with the war effort. Frieda taught a business bookkeeping course to her peers during her junior year, and even with extra responsibilities both at home and at school, Frieda graduated as Valedictorian of her class in 1945. Frieda continued her education at business college in Bellingham, and at age 17 became the receptionist and office assistant to a local physician (she “drew the line” at giving intravenous medications). Frieda’s first residential college experience was at Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle, where she completed a two-year program in religious and Biblical studies in 1948. While at LBI she also honed her musical skills, performing and touring in Washington and Oregon singing in a women’s quartet sponsored by the college; the group made (78 rpm!) phonograph recordings in 1947 and 1948. Frieda then worked for five years at Lake Samish Lutheran Bible Camp (now Lutherwood), where she managed the canteen, assisted the camp cook, and also taught Bible classes. In 1950 Frieda met a summer lifeguard named Paul Jordan; she thought he was Native American, since his skin was dark from a Navy assignment in Hawaii, but his blue eyes caught her attention. They fell in love, and were married in 1952 at St. John's Lutheran Church in Bellingham. Frieda’s faith and religious knowledge were a deep inspiration to Paul; as a direct result of her influence he became an ordained Lutheran pastor and a theologian. Frieda kept her career moving forward at every opportunity, wherever Paul’s training and ministry led them. She served as secretary to the plant manager at Pacific Oerlikon Company in Tacoma, then blossomed at The Wartburg Press in Columbus (Ohio), writing and producing Bible study materials for Sunday school and Vacation Church School programs. (A few years later, she and Paul co-authored an adult and young-adult Sunday school curriculum which was published by Wartburg.) The family moved to Petersburg (Alaska) in 1969, where Frieda coordinated and supervised a school-wide individualized study program; she also served for a year as elementary school librarian. After moving to Anchorage (Alaska), Frieda became administrative assistant at the University of Alaska’s Marine Advisory Program, where her accomplishments included computerizing the offices, grant writing, and preparing printer’s copy of numerous documents including a fishing manual entirely written in the Upik (Eskimo) language. Frieda and Paul moved to Portland (Oregon) in 1980, and Frieda became office manager at the Oregon State University Extension Service of Multnomah County. For her service to that organization Frieda was named 1986 OSU Classified Employee of the Year, and Multnomah County Extension “Miracle Worker of the Year” (an award created specifically for her) for producing nineteen major publications, helping design an educational center, coordinating and managing complex multi-site office programs and staff, and many other achievements during a single year. Frieda’s dedication to her own education was also remarkable. Taking courses whenever and wherever she could while also working full time and raising a family, she received her Associate of Arts degree from Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka (Alaska) in 1974, and earned her Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Oregon State College – the same week she retired! – in 1994. She received special accolades at commencement for having college transcripts from multiple states spanning forty-four years. Frieda and Paul returned to Bellingham in 1995, and resumed active participation in their “home” church at St. John’s Lutheran. Frieda served as Secretary of the Church Council for many years (though many thought she was actually the council president!), shared her beautifully strong contralto voice as a choir member and vocal soloist, and also served as occasional piano and organ accompanist. Unfortunately within a few years of returning to Bellingham, Frieda’s mental faculties began to deteriorate, and she was diagnosed with advanced dementia (Alzheimer’s) in 2006. Paul cared for her at their home until his sudden death in January 2015, at which point Frieda moved to The Bellingham at Orchard, where she received excellent and compassionate care for the remainder of her days. Frieda is survived by daughter Ruth Jordan Culbertson and her husband Rick Culbertson of Oak Harbor, son Harper Tasche Jordan and his husband Neil McNeill of Seattle, grandson Brian Culbertson of New York, and numerous nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations to St. John's Lutheran Church. A Memorial Service will be held at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 2530 Cornwall Ave. in Bellingham on Saturday, September 12 at 2 PM. Reception following at the church.
Frieda Elsie (Miller) Jordan was the youngest of eight children born to Henry and Magdalene Miller, on the family dairy farm at Ten Mile (north of Bellingham). Frieda’s life reflected the 20th century technological revolution in a very... View Obituary & Service Information
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