Carolyn Joyce Pechelunas
August 22, 1928 - May 1, 2019

Carolyn Joyce Pechelunas

Carolyn Joyce Pechelunas
Aug 22, 1928 - May 1, 2019

Carolyn Joyce Pechelunas
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Will there be meatloaf in Heaven?

CAROLYN JOYCE PECHELUNAS found the answer when she passed in Bellevue WA early May 1st at the age of 90. With a sudden downturn from pneumonia, close family spent two days of quality moments with her to express love and whisper secrets in her ear before she left for her last and most miraculous promotion.

Nicknamed "LaLa", she is survived by two daughters: Carolyn "Joy" Miller of Bellevue WA and Cathy Pechelunas of Seattle WA; four grandchildren: Gail (Schaub) Cuthbert of Federal Way WA, Gretchen (Schaub) Walley of Issaquah WA, Peter Schaub of Bellevue, and Tony Graham of Mount Vernon WA; four great grandchildren: Melissa (Walley) Garry of Issaquah, Chandler Walley of Chicago IL, Dalton Cuthbert of Puyallup WA, and Daria (Cuthbert) Hale of Tacoma WA; two great great grandchildren (Everly and Oaklan Cuthbert), with another on the way; and her brother, James Engstrom of Wayzata MN. Carolyn was preceded in death by her daughter, Nancy Lee Graham of Seattle; grandson, Jason Graham of Mount Vernon; parents, Earl and Hazel Engstrom of Mount Vernon (formerly Minneapolis MN); and her 3-year old brother, Jackie Engstrom, of Jackson MS .

She was formerly married to George Pechelunas and briefly to Clint Spacey, of the musical group, The Inkspots. Born in Minneapolis MN on August 22, 1928, Carolyn moved to Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, and New Mexico with George who was in the U. S. Air Force. Years after their divorce, her talents and drive led to a sportswear designer position with Swingwest and eventually another move to Sioux Falls SD to design skiwear and head that division for Raven Industries, where she travelled the world.

After retiring in her 60's, she moved to Mount Vernon to be near her Washington State family and fulfill a life-long dream: to buy an old church and open a small restaurant where she could share her "delectable edibles". Thus was born "The Blue Owl" across from the MV Post Office, named for the 1000+ owl collection in its entry. Everyone she met became instant friends through zip lock bags of brownie rounds, Santa Claus cookies, or caramel corn to die for.

Carolyn had a green thumb and loved decorating, sewing, movies, and hospitality--with a little doggie friend always next to her. She was a real swooner and could be lured into doing her physical therapy by playing Johnny Mathis or Nat King Cole songs. Scarily competitive, she played a mean game of caroms and was always on the lookout to train and addict a new adversary--and then beat them mercilessly, with a wicked cackle! Her keen sense of humor and creativity kept her young at heart. She was always learning something new, irritatingly curious about how things worked, and had more tools than a lot of men. The décor of her home was Better Homes & Gardens stunning.

Always a stickler for using proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling, Carolyn was a proofreader at one time and wrote a regular column in a trade publication. Many of her talents and traits trail all through our family. Her 101-year old artist aunt, Eva Newsom, created the Biblical Gardens in Wisconsin Dells WI.

For the past five years, Carolyn's eyesight had become significantly worse so she was almost blind...and had become progressively weaker. Family was finally able to move her to an adult family home in Bellevue that was closer to a majority of them. Everyone pitched in to make her new room a mini-version of her MV home. Her room was adorned with her favorite blue-and-white treasures, original works by Aunt Eva, and lots of family mementos. It was a very sweet and familiar place to spend her last year--with the Fox News channel on almost 24/7--of course! Their goal was for her to have at least one visit per day, so now only 20 minutes instead of 90 minutes away, Gretchen and Melissa brought Carolyn's little white Chihuahua, Itsy, to visit every Saturday, Cathy went on Sundays, and Carolyn "Joy" and Melissa covered the weekdays. Living further away, everyone else came as regularly as they could.

Carolyn was a staunch Republican (she started one of the nation's "Rush Rooms" in the Blue Owl), so the first thing she wanted to do when she moved from Skagit to King County was to change her voter registration! She kicked herself over and over again for straying in 1992 to vote for Ross Perot and felt personally responsible for the GOP losing control of the White House for the next eight years. She kept up on current events (she knew the names of all the U. S. Supreme Court justices) and absolutely loved President Donald Trump; perhaps one of the reasons she lived as long as she did was just to see what he would do next! Raised in the south, Carolyn grew up with black people. As an adult, she despised the evils, injustice, and ignorance of racism, which was a source of great conflict with her father. The "n" word was NEVER uttered in her household NOR those of her children. Her deceased daughter, Nancy, was married to a black man, and Carolyn made preparations to take care of Nancy's two little boys, Tony and Jason, after her death. Understandably, family had to be sure that the adult family home would accept Carolyn's politics before she would even move there.

While visiting, family read to her (three times!) the memoir book written by her cousin, Vicki Glassman, Fried Green Tomatoes and Grapes of Wrath, along with the little books that Carolyn's Grandma Caroline Gragert and Aunt Edna wrote, with Uncle Herman's chapters. Carolyn was the first grandchild of her grandparents' 11 children, so extended family is rich with stories and humor. A big box of greeting cards that had been sent to her over the years was kept in her room; she enjoyed them being read to her, stimulating lots of memories and conversations.

Her family used to organize work days at her house in MV to prepare for the big birthday parties she threw for herself as an excuse to bring everyone together. But, with her extra care and the distance involved, it got to be way too much for everyone to handle. Her close friends, Susan Uker and Mary Newman, enjoyed those parties and helped her immeasurably through the years. Suzanne and Milton Jenkins kept her supplied with fresh brown eggs from their chickens. And her "little hubby", Daryl Bruno, fixed her hair once a week at her house for over 20 years; she never had to go to a salon. Her ever-faithful brother, Jim, has always been there to help, with his seemingly endless talents and listening ear. Patty (Pechelunas) Sherber even flew from Minnesota for several birthdays to see her Aunty Carolyn; and her cousins, Patrick and Dorothy Cooper of Mukilteo WA, never missed the occasion, either. Mount Vernon Pastors George and Arlis Watkins and Arlis's sister, Shari Ziegler (with her husband, Don) of Independence KY, enjoyed these parties when they were in town and helped love and pray her into the Kingdom of Heaven. (Most of the cards in that big box were from Shari.)

The staff at Serenity Home Care in Bellevue took such tender care of Carolyn. She actually said she was happy living there, as much as she loved her home in Mount Vernon. After they helped her into bed, Marlin would "fluff" her hair before leaving her room--the equivalent to family kissing her before they left. And Buddy would greet her every morning with a great big smile and, "GOOD MORNING, MY BEAUTY!" Maria's personal touch competently guided the staff that included several men, whom Carolyn loved. She truly had smiles on her face that have never been so huge!

Carolyn would not want to forget the spouses who helped in one way or another with the BIG MOVE and background support through the ups and downs of her care: Rian (Gail), Maria (Pete), Spencer (Melissa), Kayla (Dalton), Tyler (Daria), and Sarah (Jim).
Every sentence of this remembrance has a multitude of stories, miracles, and memories woven between the lines--some good and others not so much. But that's a life well lived, and Carolyn's was indeed that.
If desired, donations may be sent to Carolyn Miller to fund air fare for out-of-state family to attend the family memorial gathering, estimated to be mid-July: 16626 NE 19th Place, Bellevue WA 98008; 206-402-2559; Please sign Carolyn's guest book at


Don and Shari ziegler on May 14, 2019

Ohhh! What a delightful Lady...and what an impact she made on my life! Not a day goes by that I don’t think of something she said or did, or of one of her yummies. I went to help out in her Blue Owl Restaurant for 4 weeks, and stayed for 4 years. We became dear friends. Our family loves her, as well. She introduced us to Caroms, and now our grandchildren play it. But most importantly, Carolyn prayed to receive Jesus as her Savior last year. What a blessing to know we will see her again! (If the Lord lets her help with the ‘heavenly menu’, I hope she includes her ‘Steamed Black Pudding’.)
Blessings and love to all her precious family. May you be comforted and encouraged by the legacy she has left to so many~~

George and Louise on May 12, 2019

We are sorry for the loss of this beloved woman but are overjoyed that she is dancing in Heaven with Jesus. George always appreciated that she moved to Mount Vernon to be close to her family. We pray the comfort of the Lord be with each of you as you process your loss.



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