Maria Larson died peacefully at St. Clare Hospital, Lakewood, WA, on September 14, 2020, at the age of 95. She was born February 14, 1925 in Everett, WA, to Swedish immigrants Sven Uno and Martha Ogren. As a child, Maria only spoke Swedish until she started school. Her sister Ruth was born 20 months after Maria, and Unamay came along 10 years after that. Growing up during the depression had a lot of impact on her daily life--even as an adult. (She and Roy would often “school” us in the ways of saving water, reusing items and eating every bit of your dinner.) Maria and Ruth would spend a lot of their outdoor time with the neighborhood kids, playing stickball, which eventually turned into softball for them. Her family were members of Zion Lutheran Church in Everett, where Maria was confirmed.
After graduation from Everett High School in 1943, Maria started working in Seattle for the U.S. government. Her pastor at Zion, Rev. Merton Lundquist, talked her into going to college so in the fall of 1947, she started at Pacific Lutheran College where she developed lifelong friendships and involvement with PLU sports and activities. Singing in the Choir of the West was one of her favorite parts of college life. Also in college, she took a Swedish language class taught by Rev. E. Arthur Larson. He asked her to join the choir at Bethel Lutheran Church where he was the pastor--and there she met Roy! She graduated in 1951 with a degree in Sociology.
Roy and Maria were married in August, 1951. They bought a home in Tacoma in 1954 and raised their family there. In 1997, they moved to their condo on Brookdale golf course in Parkland. Maria and Roy were active members of Bethel Lutheran and later Trinity Lutheran church. Sundays at Bethel were an extended Larson family event with Grandpa Larson preaching, Grandma Larson leading songs in Sunday school and Art Larson playing the organ. Afterwards, there was usually a family potluck gathering at the parsonage. Maria loved to sing in the choir and was constantly helping host church social gatherings. Roy and Maria were also Luther League leaders (youth group) at Bethel. Much time during the summer was spent at their Glenhaven cabin just south of Bellingham, often with her sister Unamay and children and many friends and family. This always included a stop in Everett at the halfway point to see her parents. Maria and Roy sold the Glenhaven cabin in the late 1970’s and built a log home a couple years later on Long Lake near Pt. Orchard.
Maria was very proud of her Swedish heritage and maintained her proficiency of the language--reading and writing letters to family in Sweden and translating when relatives came to visit. It also came in handy for the several trips they made to Sweden. Upon Roy’s retirement in the late ‘80’s, they enjoyed many trips around the U.S. in their travel-van and a trip to Europe to see the Passion Play in Oberammergau. One of the most visited vacation destinations was Cannon Beach, Oregon--a Larson family tradition. Even after Roy passed away, Maria would rent a house at Cannon Beach for the family and enjoy a week together each summer. Often, friends and family would join us for dinners and beach campfires. Another tradition that started in the 1960’s was going to Portland to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Bey family, and then ending the weekend visiting Perry and Ruth Mitchell in Corvallis.
At home, Maria spent most of her time devoted to her grandchildren, church, Bible study, reading club, and quilting/sewing groups. She maintained this lifestyle even after Roy’s untimely passing as a result of cancer in 1999. She made numerous trips visiting Kristina and family in Portland, Buffalo and Denver. Throughout her life, she enjoyed many sporting events and activities--playing tennis and golf, and watching her children and grandchildren in their sports, music, drama activities. But the sport she participated in the longest was bowling--she was the secretary of the Tacoma Church Bowling League for nearly 30 years. Maria thoroughly enjoyed meeting new friends when she moved to Bridgeport Place Assisted Living in 2010. In the summer of 2017, her dementia prompted another move to Patriot’s Landing memory care facility in Dupont, WA.
Maria is survived by her children, Kristina Hatcher (Jeff) of Highlands Ranch, CO; Karl Larson (Sharon) of Steilacoom; grandchildren Andrew Larson, Kelly Larson, Peter Hatcher (Evelyn), Mark Hatcher and step-grandchildren Kasey Schiller, Adam Schiller (Chrissy) and great-grandchildren Andie and Zoey Schiller. Maria also leaves sister-in-law, Lorraine Larson, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Dick and Sharon Larson, cousins, nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her husband, parents, sisters Ruth Gates and Unamay Tuininga and many beloved relatives and friends.
Maria’s love and devotion to her faith, family and friends will never be forgotten. Her love of home and family was always evident in her hospitality. Her baked items--especially her Swedish havrechex and “scorpas”--were enjoyed by family and friends. She will always be our “favorite Valentine” because of her February 14th birthday!
Our thanks and deep appreciation go to the nurses and caregivers at Patriots Landing memory care facility (Liberty Lane) and to the staff at St. Clare Hospital.
A private graveside service will be held on Monday, September 21, 2020. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Maria and Roy Larson Endowed Scholarship at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, WA 98447, www.PLU.edu/tribute or Trinity Lutheran Church Memorial Fund, 12115 Park Avenue S., Tacoma, WA 98444.
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Maria and Roy Larson Endowed Scholarship Fund
12501 Park Ave S Tacoma, WA 98447-0018, Tacoma WA 98444
Trinity Lutheran Church
12115 Park Ave S., Tacoma WA 98444