Elaine Yaeger, 83, passed away under hospice care in Vallejo, CA due to respiratory distress that progressed rapidly during her last few weeks. Her overall health had taken a turn for the worse early this year, soon after she and her husband of 44 years, David, had to separate in order for him to receive 24-hour care. Upon his death in March, she fixated on the day when they would be together again. Indeed, to most people who knew them, it was hard to imagine one without the other close by.
Elaine (Flannigan) was born and raised in the small community of Jamestown, ND. Her passions were a life-long constant: family, friends, travel, reading, and spirituality. She had a sheltered and secluded childhood, but after high school graduation she was determined to see the world beyond her hometown. She immediately moved to Minneapolis to attend Northwestern Bible College (now University of Northwestern), where a new President by the name of Billy Graham was making a name for himself through his radio program and revival meetings. His leadership and charisma inspired her to seek employment overseas with or near missionaries; and after graduating in 1951 she was hired as a secretary in Tokyo, Japan. Two years later she returned to the U.S. with a husband and two babies. After adding another baby to the family in IL, and one in OK, Elaine moved with her children to Oakland, CA as a divorced woman. She eventually met and married David Yaeger and they called Vallejo their home since 1974. They both worked at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, as did three of Elaine’s children and their spouses.
Elaine retired in August 1990 with 27 years as a civil service secretary. For the next twenty years, she and Dave were often on the road with their latest travel vehicle, following a meticulously planned route to visit family, friends, and things of interest along the way. They also made a few more international trips, adding Australia and New Zealand to the list of new places they’ve been. Long before their last trip together — which was in June 2012, to Yosemite National Park with the four grandchildren who live in Texas and their twelve children — Elaine and Dave had visited all 50 U.S. states and at least 25 countries on five continents.
She enjoyed socializing and always knew how to find a like-minded club on any subject – for herself, and for anyone she deemed to be in need of group contact. She was a member of the Genealogy Society of Vallejo-Benicia, TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), and – along with her husband – the Elks Lodge, Sister City Association, Friendship Force, Good Sam Club, and Pleasure-Way RV Club. They were also founding members of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the North Bay. She and Dave loved to host social events and looked forward to the many occasions when visitors would stay at their home.
Elaine is survived by three children: Cheryl Swanson of Vallejo; Laurel (Jack) Ward of Santa Maria; Randy Swanson of Sapulpa, OK; three grandchildren: Lisa Jones, Kacey Will (Christine) Locke, and Corey Widen; two great-grandchildren: Kevin Locke and Madelyn Jones; her brother, his sons and grandson: Gary Flannigan of So. Calif, Steven, Brian and Devin; and many of her (originally 29) cousins scattered around the country. She also has 22 step-grandchildren and –great-grandchildren in Texas, Nevada and Canada, who have known her as Grandma their entire lives. Nearly 100 relatives and friends will miss receiving her yearly Christmas cards and letters.
Elaine was preceded in death by her loving husband, David; son, Larry Swanson (1972); and brother, Dennis Flannigan (1976). She is buried next to David at Sunset View Cemetery in El Cerrito (Berkeley).