Gidsken N. McCormic | PASSAGES

Gidsken N. McCormic -
Gidsken N. McCormic
— image credit:

Gidsken Nekoline Bjorge McCormic — mother to two, grandma to six and “MorMor” to nine more — lived a life 100 years long in a fashion as remarkable as her name. She passed away March 8, 2014.

She was born Sept. 3, 1913 to Karen and Waldemar Bjorge in a Norwegian community on Puget Island in the middle of the lower reaches of the Columbia River, she joined two older brothers, Elmo and Maurice.

Until she began school five years later, Norwegian was her first language. Her parents had emigrated from Norway in the late 1800s, settling first in Minnesota, and then moving to Washington state. Her mother was the postmistress on the island, and most of her patrons came by boat to pick up their mail.

The family grew and distilled mint on their farm, and salmon-fished the river. She remembered when the Columbia was a free-flowing river, the annual spring floods that inundated the island, the building of dikes to control them, and, finally, the building of a bridge to Cathlamet on the Washington side of the river.

She was schooled on the island, and attended high school in Cathlamet (by boat, as there was then no bridge to the island) and Astoria (by ferry and train).

Her mother, determined that she should have an education, moved with her to Seattle and worked as a housekeeper while Gidsken attended her freshman year at the University of Washington.

Gidsken worked as a coffee hostess at Manning’s Cafeteria during college, graduating from the university in 1935 with a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in English. She taught high school in Washougal before her marriage.

Her late husband, Keith McCormic, was Irish. His family had moved to Seattle from Kansas.

They married in 1937, and thought it would be a lark to honeymoon on Bainbridge Island. They did, and never moved back off the island; it was a long and wonderful honeymoon.

Keith was in the advertising business, and through his connections with restaurant clients, established Clark’s Ferry Concessions with a Seattle restaurateur, and ran the food operations on the Washington State Ferries for many years. Highlights for both were the grand christening ceremonies of several of the newer ferries.

Gidsken cherished her Norwegian heritage, retaining her childhood abilities to speak and read “old” Norwegian. She maintained contact with her many relatives in Norway, and traveled there several times, most recently to celebrate her 81st birthday with the family there dressed in traditional Norwegian bunads.

In 1973, she and Keith took four months to travel around the world. The grandchildren remember the tape recordings of night-time animal sounds sent home from Africa. They spent several winters in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, enjoying the arts community.

Friends will remember their lovely home looking down Rich’s Passage at a beautifully framed view of Mount Rainier. She enjoyed entertaining, especially when visited by the many friends they had made in their travels, and relatives from Norway. She took great pride in her yard and garden; for many years she was active in the local chapter of the Arboretum Foundation.

A long-time member of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, she was a member of the Altar Guild, and seemingly specialized in the weekly ironing of the priest’s vestments.

In later years, she and her husband lived at the Eagle Harbor Condominiums. After his death, she lived for several years at Wyatt House Retirement Center, where the staff treated her with remarkable kindness and respect. The family is very grateful to them, and to the staff at Martha and Mary in Poulsbo, where she passed away on March 8, 2014.

She leaves a daughter Karen (Thomas) Beierle, and son Robert (Anina) McCormic, of Bainbridge Island; grandchildren Amy (Tim) Janof, Kathryn (Ted) Klinkenberg, Thomas (Didi Burpee) Beierle, Keith (Charlie, deceased) McCormic, Sarah McCormic, Mary (Josh) McInnis; and nine great-grandchildren, all in the Seattle-Bainbridge area.

Her entire family gathered over Labor Day weekend, 2013, to celebrate her 100th birthday with a Norwegian kransekakke and a skit by her great-grandchildren titled “How to Train a Viking.” The new Vikings were all female, which MorMor thought was just right.

All who knew her will remember her as a loving and accepting person, one who reached out whenever someone was in need of a helping hand or wise counsel, a sympathetic ear, or a batch of Norwegian cookies. She was loved and will remain an inspiration to all who were privileged to know her.

A memorial service was held at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on Saturday, March 22, followed by a reception in the parish hall.

Remembrances are suggested to the Bainbridge Community Foundation, 221 Winslow Way West, #305, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110. Sign the online guest book at

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates