Elaine Datzman Luitjens Wasem
Elaine Datzman (“Tootie” to her Minnesota family) was born during a cold spring in southwest Minnesota in the town of Brewster on April 23, 1932 to Maynard and Agnes (Lueck) Datzman.
The eldest of four, Elaine's early years on the family farm, during the Depression era and then the war, shaped her into a young woman who was determined, persevered, and understood the value of even the simplest of possessions.
Along with learning how to thrive while growing up on the farm, Elaine's early accomplishments included saving for the purchase of, and learning how to fly an airplane (with the help of a program of study that was purchased from an advertising gimmick in a cold cereal box purchased for her by her grandpa), along with earning a vocational nursing certificate while raising her family. This began her career as a surgical nurse in both Worthington MN, as well as San Diego, CA.
The years she was married to Howard Luitjens grew their family with the addition of three sons, Rande, Louis and David.
The stories about her Piper Cub airplane that she purchased by saving money from selling chicken eggs, farm life antics, as well as motorcycle riding with her boys as they grew older, were Minnesota memories that were shared and retold many times over the years.
After moving to Southern California in the late 1960's, Elaine was introduced by friends to another motorcycle enthusiast, John Wasem, in 1972, and their 44 year marriage added to her family another three children: John, Bill and Susan, along with their growing families.
Designing and building their homes together, square dancing in outfits sewn by Elaine, extended motorcycle trips to various parts of the country with son John and his wife Barbara, camping in the deserts of California with family, as well as memorable trips to Europe and one to Hawaii, made wonderful memories for both she and John to recall over the decades and added to their vault of family stories.
In 1989, John and Elaine set off for yet another grand adventure, after finding their “forever home” in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana when they retired, and they enjoyed 27 years there until John's passing in 2016. Various family members visited throughout the years and John and Elaine were always so proud to show off “their valley”!
Through the decades in the valley, they were active members of Faith Lutheran Church and more recently Elaine made wonderful friends through her affiliations with both Canyon View and Roots faith communities.
Elaine stayed busy sewing dozens of quilts for the nearby women's shelter, attending bible and book studies with her friends, and she provided regular monthly donations of dozens of homemade cookies to the Veterans office in Hamilton. She had a passion for our veterans, particularly those from WW2, and read and reread many books that told the stories of these brave and sacrificial patriots.
At the age of 80, she started toward her next “big” goal, which she entitled "5 by 85", which she accomplished by sky diving annually in both Montana and Washington. These were some of the biggest thrills of her life and she would have jumped many more times if the opportunities had been more readily available.
Elaine recently returned to Minnesota to live out what we hoped to be many years living near her great grandson and his wife and children, but a late stage diagnosis of cancer took her home much sooner than anticipated.
Elaine is survived by her sons Rande Luitjens (Jill) of Hamilton, MT and Louis Luitjens (Cindy) of Lexington Park, MD, as well as stepson John Wasem (Barbara) of Visalia, CA and stepdaughter Susan Sevier (Rodney) of San Diego, CA; sister Bonita (Deeda) Colby (Junior) of Brewster, MN and brother M. Joe Datzman (Terri) of Emily, MN, as well as Charlie, her faithful canine companion.
The combined family legacy of John and Elaine leaves fifteen grandchildren, thirty two greats, as well as a few "great great" grandchildren; additionally, she leaves numerous nieces and nephews across the country and rounds out the surviving family of this memorable woman.
Her parents, deceased husbands Howard Luitjens and John Wasem, son David Luitjens, stepson William Wasem, sister Beverly (Bobbi) Bigman and so many dear friends met her as she entered into her eternal glory on April 9, 2021.
Gatherings to celebrate Elaine's life will be held in Minnesota and Montana at later dates.
Donations to any charitable organizations that assist veterans or active duty military personnel or the charity of your choice are always welcome gestures of a remembrance of her affect on your life.
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