Celebrating the life of Ellen Ginter Pflugrad Cunningham
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Ellen (Ginter) Pflugrad Cunningham went to sleep in Jesus at her home near Kettle Falls on December 2, 2022 surrounded by loving family. She was born June 26, 1939 in Moscow, Idaho, to Ben and Ada (Groshong) Ginter. She was predeceased by her parents and thirteen of her siblings.
The large family farmed in several areas of the northwestern US and British Columbia, and Ellen learned to work hard, make do with little, and enjoy a crowd. During her teens she worked several summers in Chico, Cali-fornia, as a nanny and medical office assistant for her dear friends Doc and Frankie Layland.
In 1957 Ellen graduated from Milo Academy in Oregon. The next year at Walla Walla College she met Chester Pflugrad. They married August 25, 1958 and moved often in the early years, living in College Place, Washing-ton; Portland, Oregon; Chico, California; and Anchorage, Alaska as he pursued his career as a medical laborato-ry technologist.
In 1969, the family, now with four children, moved to Guadalajara, Mexico so that Chester could fulfill his dream of attending medical school. During those four years they enjoyed many adventures, and faced some hardships. Mom did laundry on a scrub board for her family of six and held down the fort alone during summer and winter breaks while Chester worked as a Lab Tech in Los Angeles to earn enough to support his family for another semester.
During her husband’s one-year medical internship in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Ellen’s charm and God’s bless-ing brought her great success as she sold Christian books door to door.
The family finally settled in Weslaco, Texas in the fall of 1974. During those busy years down near the Mexican border, Ellen spent time working in Chester’s emergency room billing office and tending
her beautiful flower beds. Meanwhile her four children studied at nearby Valley Grande Academy. Ellen be-came known for her commitment to family, church and community. Her involvement in children’s ministries, her contributions to Adventist education—and her gift of hospitality to all—touched many lives for eternity. Mom Pflugrad was a true nurturer, and she believed in having fun, too. The family made lots of great memories to-gether, canoeing, traveling, backpacking and skiing.
In 2014, Ellen lost her husband of 56 years to leukemia. She moved to Stevens County, Washington the next year to be near her youngest daughter’s family. Soon after, she met a Milo Academy classmate at church, long time Colville resident Robert “Bob” Cunningham. They were married February 14, 2016. In their seven years together they traveled widely, visiting friends and family and participating in hiking excursions.
All her life, Ellen really loved to hike. Even into her 80s, she often walked several miles before breakfast. Just two and a half months before her death, she made the long trip to Michigan for a hiking vacation with her chil-dren.
Family was always a top priority for Ellen. She was a nurturing Mom, and later an adoring “Nana” to 10 grand-children and 2 great grandchildren, as well as to Bob’s 6 grandchildren. She’s also remembered as a “second mom” by many students she mentored through the years.
Ellen’s vigor declined in the past year, and she survived just four weeks after receiving a cancer diagnosis. She is mourned by her brother Joseph Ginter, husband Bob Cunningham, sons Chester and David Pflugrad, daugh-ters Sharon Bynum and Deborah Stentzel and their families— as well as step-children Joe and Jay Cunningham and Judy Bitton.
She lived in anticipation of meeting Jesus at His second coming, and she and those she left behind await a grand reunion at the resurrection.
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