Beloved mother, grandmother and longtime Bainbridge Island resident, Dagmar Selfors passed away peacefully on Feb. 16, 2018.
Dagmar was preceded in death by her husband of 56 years Ed Selfors and is survived by her daughters Ingrid Svensson (Jan-Erik) of Stockholm, Sweden, and Erica Keshvadian (Farzad) of Lynnwood; grandchildren Shereen (Matthew) and Edward Keshvadian; and step-grandson Erik Svensson (Cecilia). Dagmar is also survived by her sister Sonia Miller (Rex), and her nieces and nephews.
The daughter of Swedish immigrants, the late Bert and Nana Strom, she was born Nov. 22, 1935 during a 56 degree-below blizzard in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Bert Strom moved his family to Seattle in 1940, where he became a well driller. Summers were spent in a cabin at Yeomalt on Bainbridge Island where Dagmar and her sister Sonia created lifelong memories.
In 1953 the family relocated to Bainbridge Island and Dagmar commuted to Seattle her senior year graduating from Queen Anne High School, Class of 1954.
Her first job out of high school was with a marine architecture company. Dagmar would babysit for architect Brin Sprague Sr. and Ed Selfors would make excuses to come over and visit the babysitter. Dagmar and Ed married in 1960.
When her youngest daughter was 3 years old, Dagmar returned to work spending five years with the Bloedel Timber Company. Several more secretarial jobs followed before she was recruited by the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. This is where her career began. Dagmar moved through the ranks from secretary to the Antitrust Division to administrator of the Seattle and Tacoma offices, eventually being promoted to the management team; a remarkable series of events for someone who had never gone to college.
Dagmar was uniquely suited for the job. She had integrity and courage, which she felt were important because of the work of the Attorney General’s Office. She loved being a part of that team and cared deeply about the people in the office. You may start in the mail room, but she wanted to know what your dreams were and how she could help you reach those dreams.
Dagmar had high standards and a strong work ethic. She was fair and, when she felt she needed to step in and take a tough line, she would. She felt that hard work builds character; she believed that the diligent stand out; that hard work opens doors to new opportunities; she believed one should work hard to benefit others.
Dagmar was known for her personal notes of congratulations and encouragement. Many can testify to the importance of the impact of receiving her notes. One example is that she sent Valentines to every single person in the office, for some it was the first Valentine they had ever received.
Dagmar was an active and revered member of the Puget Sound Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators. She was Chapter President 1989-1990 and was the first recipient of the Spirit of PSALA Award in 1995, which bestowed upon her a lifetime membership in the chapter.
Selfors held the management position at the Washington State Attorney General’s Office until she retired in 1996.
The intervening years were challenging. A brain tumor was discovered; radiation treatments ensued, leaving collateral damage. She faced this challenge without flinching, surviving the brain tumor for 20 years. The loss of agility and freedom were difficult for her, but she never complained. She had the most remarkable attitude.
The joys in her personal life were her family and many friends and she cherished her friendships with her adult daughters, especially after she became homebound.
From her father she inherited an interest in democracy, politics and world affairs. An avid reader, she could often be found with a good book. An accomplished knitter and an enthusiastic pruner in the garden, she came to miss this hands-on expression of creativity when she could no longer do these things and classic movies became her main interest, she even hosted a film festival at Liberty Shores assisted living.
Dagmar had a strong sense of celebrating tradition whether it was entertaining at the holidays, maintaining connections across the generations or visiting relatives in Sweden.
Dagmar and Ed shared a love of multi-generational gatherings, spinning stories around the table.
Dagmar once said that in 56 years of marriage you encounter all that life can offer; the bitter and the sweet. Dagmar and Ed were bigger than their challenges. They were great partners encouraging the other in their interests. They lived their marriage vows with grace, bravery and love and faced their challenges together. In the years that Dagmar did not live in their home, Ed made sure that their daily routines were as consistent as ever. In more than nine years in assisted living, Ed missed only four days. Dagmar and Ed were steadfast, loyal and true.
Her girls remember their mother as a glamorous figure; super smart, fearless, and never afraid to speak her mind. At 82 she still had this drive; she would say: “I’ve got to figure out what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.” She had a smile for everyone, every day, continued to take an interest in others and meddle when she could.
Dagmar is remembered as a strong woman with a huge heart. She was a trailblazer and an example of excellence. Dagmar had a big presence; her personality and her smile lit up the environment. The lights at Liberty Shores are dimmer because she has left the building.
A special thanks to Lori Adams, Heather Kurtz, and all of the loving staff at Liberty Shores in Poulsbo for their incredibly dedicated, compassionate loving care to the end.
A memorial service to celebrate Dagmar Selfors’ life will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 21 at Port Madison Lutheran Church on Bainbridge Island, with a reception to follow.
Memorial contributions can be made in her name to Port Madison Lutheran Church, PO Box 4787, Rolling Bay, WA 98061, or to the Bainbridge Island Land Trust.
Arrangements will be under the direction of the Cook Family Funeral Home of Bainbridge Island. Share your memories with the family by signing the online guest book at www.cookfamilyfuneralhome.com.