A Sacred Moment


Ethel Marion Marks

September 06, 1918 - March 07, 2011

We will miss the twinkle in her eyes...

Late afternoon, Monday, March 7, 2011, Ethel Marion Marks passed away in her sleep at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. Her determination, strong will and enduring spirit, unable this time, to overcome the many challenges of living life. She had met life's challenges for over 92 years, and she had lived a long, good and fulfilling life. At 92 years, 6 months and one day old, she had lived life even more fully than her Mother, exceeding her mothers age by over a year.

She was born in Port Alice, British Columbia, September 6, 1918 to Andrew and Susie Gangnes. The first of 4 children, Ethel was born early and weighed only one-pound-eight-ounces at birth. Born in a remote wilderness cabin at the north end or Vancouver Island, and 3 miles by boat to the nearest town, she was not expected to survive. Wrapped in cotton balls and olive oil, she was placed in a cigar box to complete the incubation process, and was nurtured to health by her mother.

Ethel was slow to learn to walk and at the age of two she was placed in full body casts in an attempt to have her hips develop. It was also during this time that she contracted polio, which left her in leg casts for considerable time thereafter. The problem with her hips, created at birth, were something she would contend with the rest of her life, but it never daunted her spirit or tarnished her vitality. If anything, walking with a slightly different gate only added to her charm and her quiet swagger. And walk she did until the last year of her life.

About the age of 5, Ethel was able to get around better and her family immigrated from Canada to 20 acres in Fragaria, Washington. With her 3 year old brother Al, they would help their parents build a home and develop a thriving chicken and egg business. Living on the farm was hard work and kids worked too, feeding, gathering eggs, and tending to all the animals and chores. In addition to helping out on the farm, Ethel and Al attended a one-room school (1st through 8th grade) located a half mile up a trail through the woods. Ethel graduated from South Kitsap High School. She moved to Seattle and attended the Hazel Melbourne School of Business and became a bookkeeper and worked for a wire and rope and cable firm.

For enjoyment on weekends when she wasn't out to the farm, she would attend local dances with her girl friends. It was at one of these dances that she met Kendall (Ken) Marks. To hear Ethel tell it, the Saturday night where this happened was one where she had decided not to go, but her best friend Sarah Belle Duncan and the rest of the girls had brow beat her until she relented and went along. It wasn't long after they got the dance hall, Farow's in downtown Seattle, that she spotted a really handsome young man, standing by himself, with a smile on his face, definitely in his prime-it was Ken. After a short whirlwind romance, they were married.

Ethel and Ken were lived in a small house in Bremerton. Ken worked as a welder in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, supporting the War effort. A friend was able to find Ken some construction work and they moved to Medina, to a house on 10th street. It wasn't too long before Ken, with all of his people skills was working in the local IGA Grocery store and in 1952, with a partner Ken and Ethel bought the old Medina Grocery Store and moved into the apartment above the store. Ken did the buying, the day-to-day customer service and store operation and ran the home delivery operation. Ethel kept the books and was assistant post master. They had a good thing going and it was during this period that Ken and Ethel took up square dancing and spent every free moment with family. Ethel and Ken ran the Medina Grocery for 14 years.

After 15 years of marriage, she gave birth to her only son, Robert: Her pride and joy. They moved to Bellevue in 1962 and stayed there until 2002, when they moved to Merrill Garden’s in Mill Creek. Her interests and hobbies were many. Tutored by her father at an early age, she learned to play the violin. Later she learned to play piano and organ. With Ken she would sing some of the best harmonies as they both had beautiful voices. She, like her mother was an exceptional baker. She loved her family who in returned adored and respected her. She coveted and remained loyal to many friends and acquaintances throughout her life. Ethel's goal in life was to promote happiness and fulfillment, not just for herself but for everyone she knew. She was preceded in death by her husband, Kendall Marks. She is survived by son, Robert (wife, Kelly), and her 3 grandchildren, Eric, Taryn and Colin. We will miss the twinkle in her eyes; her quick wit; her determination; sweet, kind and giving spirit; and endless love.


Her memorial will be held on March 25th, 1:00 pm, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Bothell.


Looking into the portals of eternity

Looking into the portals of eternity teaches that the brotherhood of man is inspired by God's word; Then all prejudice of race vanishes away.

George Washington



Just as the Wave Cannot Exist

Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me. It is an uncomfortable doctrine which the true ethics whisper into my ear. You are happy, they say; therefore you are called upon to give much.

Albert Schweitzer

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