Like the Oliver Wendell Holmes poem about the one-hoss shay that was built in such a logical way that it ran one hundred years to the day, Elsa Lundblad passed away quickly and unexpectedly on April 21, 2022, at the age of 101. She was fit and healthy until her final day. 

Born Feb. 20, 1921, in the hamlet of Vattjom in Jämtland County in central Sweden, she was the second of Pehr John and Hilda Sofia (Bodin) Dillner’s five children. In 1923, the family embarked from the port of Kristiana, Sweden (now Oslo, Norway) on the Stavangerfjord to immigrate to the USA, lured by relatives’ tales of a better life. Instead, life on a small farm near Moose Lake in northern Minnesota was harsh: collecting water (or ice) from the nearby stream; chopping wood for heating and cooking; walking miles each way on the frozen road to the one-room school house. Their lifestyle differed little between the Roaring 20s and the Great Depression, but Elsa and her siblings mastered English and explored the world through books, print media and radio. She developed a sense of style that her daughters remember as fashionable, even being well dressed while house-cleaning. She honed the stereotypical Scandinavian demeanor; a spirited heart on the inside but slightly reserved on the outside. Her sons-in-law suspected that she may have been a bit wild. Once when told that her haircut looked nice, she replied she didn’t want to look just nice; implying that nice was boring.

When 17, she met her future husband by chance on the farm. As he was only 15, she dismissed his interest, telling him that he was much too young, but years later she again met him by chance. This time he seemed more interesting, larger and handsome, so after a whirlwind romance she married Harry Edward Lundblad on April 4, 1942, and in 2021 they celebrated their 79th wedding anniversary prior to his passing later that year. Although World War II disrupted their lives when he was serving in the European Theatre, they started their family of five children and moved to Seaford twice before finally making it their permanent home in 2000.

Elsa was known for her great sense of humor, witty replies, calm deliberation, self-control, fierce loyalty and beating all family members at dominoes and Scrabble. Her Christian faith was her bedrock, from praying for her family to reading through the Bible multiple times and accepting everyone. She had a song for every occasion; enjoyed poetry, crossword puzzles and sitting in her sunroom; loved her flower gardens; and cooked delicious meals (often sharing Swedish recipes) with desserts being her specialty. She was an excellent painter (something she did actively until recently) and painted many beautiful, scenic pictures for her family. Her children recall that she was the less emotional parent, almost never ill, hardworking and always stylish. Her grandchildren called her Nanny and describe her as engaging and loyal; their champion and defender in all matters; and someone who loved babies and was an exceptional babysitter. They cherished her many kindnesses, her tender heart and listening ear. She was an inspiration to her great-grandchildren with her incredible artwork and sense of adventure. They recall that she rode on her first motorcycle when she was 95, and slurped her first jello-shot with them when she was 100.

She is survived by her brother Joel Dillner (Scandia, Minn.); daughters Diane Vasconcellos (Murrieta, Ca.), Brenda Kingree (Seaford), Susan Shuler (Broomfield, Col.), and Heather Austring (Playa del Carmen, Mexico).  She was predeceased by her parents, siblings Ruth Cunningham, Paul Dillner, and Judy Bieri, husband Harry Lundblad, and son Douglas Lundblad. She is also survived by nine grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family recommends taking time to cherish and be with loved ones. Funeral services were held on  Friday, April 29 at the Seaford Presbyterian Church in Seaford. On Tuesday, May 3, Elsa joined Harry at the Delaware Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Millsboro.