Memorial services Friday for Laura Elwell Castellow

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Laura Elwell Castellow
Laura Elwell Castellow
March 15, 1925 – April 23, 2014

Laura Jane Elwell was born in Seattle, the third of four children born to Lottie Lewis and Irvin Wetzel Elwell. She was equal parts high society and a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-make-it-happen gal. Laura was a force to be reckoned with, yet a true lady, loving mother and mother-in-law, doting grandmother, wife and role model. She enjoyed an idyllic youth growing up in the Blue Ridge neighborhood and later Capitol Hill, spending summers at the family beach home in Kingston. It is there that she learned to sail and fish, creating memories of abundant sea harvests and beach BBQs that stayed with her throughout her life.

Laura graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1943 and attended the University of Washington where she joined Delta Zeta Sorority, an affiliation that brought her cherished friends and wonderful opportunities throughout her life. Laura first honed her consummate organizing skills by founding a USO program on campus to help returning soldiers re-engage in civilian society, recruiting students from throughout the University to participate. Upon graduating with a degree in Chinese, Laura went to Los Angeles to attend the National Broadcasting Company’s Radio Broadcasting program where she had the opportunity to work with some of the top radio personalities of the time. She returned to Seattle in 1949 and went to work with the FBI where she met her husband of 50 years, the dashing agent and southern gentleman oddly named Rubaiyat Browning “Cas” Castellow. When Cas received a notice of transfer to Los Angeles, they decided to get married. Their two sons, Richard and Charles were born there, but she never considered it “home.” Next stop was Walla Walla, a move engineered to get the family back to Seattle as soon as possible. They returned to Seattle in 1958 and settled in what is now Shoreline.

Laura dedicated herself to raising her boys, serving on all their schools’ PTAs, usually assuming the presidency. Her years of dedication were recognized with the Golden Acorn Award. Laura was a natural leader and would come to power quickly, generally the result of her demanding more from the group and them relinquishing control to her. That is how she found herself running the Shoreline School District Ski School, offering up her unsolicited opinions and then finding herself in charge. She ran the ski school for 38 years, growing it into one of the largest and most respected at Stevens Pass and accommodating generations of snow sports enthusiasts while never taking up the sport herself. To make it easier, she talked Cas into purchasing land in Skykomish and worked with her sons to build a cabin in 1970. Next time you hit the slopes, take a run for Laura -- top to bottom – grinning all the way!

Fall meant Husky football season where her tailgating prowess was legendary. In fact, she enjoyed the pre-game far more than the actual one and her enthusiasm never faded throughout her 50 years of attendance. Being a woman of opinion and a staunch supporter of the democratic process, politics also held great interest for her. In between Husky games, PTA, ski school and watching her sons’ bicycle races at Marymoor’s Velodrome Park, Laura served as precinct chair and state convention delegate, She also was campaign manager for several candidates, never wishing to run on her own, even though encouraged to do so. Her final political campaign was working to ensure unincorporated Shoreline became its own city and was not absorbed into Seattle. 

Throughout her lifetime, she remained involved in her sorority, holding various positions on its Corporation Board (naturally, including president), managing its extensive remodel and pulling off a coup to purchase additional land for expansion before the notorious U District slum lords even knew it was available.

But none of her achievements matched the all-consuming joy of the birth of her twin granddaughters, Kelsey and Kaitlyn. She was a doting grandmother who would drop everything to be with them and attend their activities, including offering to ride along during the learner-permit years.

Laura is predeceased by her parents, her siblings -- Irvin Jr., Charlotte and Lee -- and her husband, Cas. She is survived by her sons, Richard (Jacky), and Charles (Maurine Jeude), granddaughters, Kaitlyn and Kelsey, step-mother, Carol Pomeroy Elwell and several nieces and nephews.

Memorial services will be held at Trinity Lutheran Church, 6215 196th St SW, in Lynnwood, at 2pm on Friday, May 16th with reception following.

Laura’s beloved sorority, Delta Zeta, is having its local Centennial Celebration this year. If you would like to honor her with a donation, the family requests it be dedicated to the Centennial Fund in her name, where donations will go to the DZ Foundation and the UW Speech and Hearing Sciences department. Checks should be made payable to Delta Zeta and sent to Centennial fund/Laura Castellow, c/o Kristin Hillblom, 5701 1/2 17th Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107.


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