Obituary: Shirley Fay (Bjarnarson) Ellefson

November 16, 1924 ~ May 24, 2021

Shirley Fay Ellefson, 96, of Washington Island, died peacefully at home on Monday evening, May 24, 2021.

She was born November 16, 1924, on Washington Island, daughter of the late Oliver and Esther Katherine (Hanson) Bjarnarson. After graduating from Washington Island High School with the Class of 1942, she attended nursing school in Chicago. Upon graduating, she returned back to the Island to begin her career. Shirley worked as a nurse for several doctors and helped deliver many of the babies born on Washington Island. Although she retired in 1994, she still volunteered for the American Red Cross, instructed the Scandinavian Fest, and served as secretary/treasurer for Trinity’s Sunday School for 30 years. Shirley was also a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Altar Guild, and a lifelong member of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.

On June 30, 1945, she was united in marriage with Charles Leonard Atkins at Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church. The two began their family, established a business, Len’s Garage, and spent 32 years of marriage together before he preceded her in death on January 24, 1978. On June 9, 1990, she married Jacob Benjamin Ellefson at Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church and the two shared 28 years of marriage together before he preceded her in death on February 9, 2019. Shirley was the life of every party and enjoyed entertaining, golfing, cross country skiing, square dancing, and playing cards. She loved her family and friends dearly, along with her Washington Island heritage.

Shirley will be missed by her son, Bruce Atkins; daughter, Sheila (Tad) Hansen; daughter-in-law, Ann (Steve) Nantelle; stepchildren, Jacob (Carin), Don, and Melodie Ellefson; nine grandchildren, Len (Stephanie) Atkins, Kathy (Mark) Haberli, Laurie (fiancé, Tim Daffron) Lewis, Ashley Ellefson, Mo Cheri Ellefson, Jacob (Lindsey) Ellefson, Adam Hobbs, Alec (Nicole) Hobbs, and Tyler Ellefson; nine great-grandchildren, Gabrielle and Jacqlyn Atkins, Miah, Kody, and Ruby Lou Haberli, Emmalyn and Elivia Lewis, and Kendrick and Owen Hobbs; brother, Richard “Dick” (Marilyn) Bjarnarson; brother-in-law, Barry Carpenter; sister-in-law, Phyllis Ellefson; and many nephews and nieces, especially Melinda Ellefson, who showed limitless devotion and love to Jake and Shirley.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Oliver and Esther Bjarnarson; first husband, Len Atkins; second husband, Jacob Ellefson; son, Terry Atkins; grandson, Ronald Atkins; brother, Dale (wives, Shirley and Jean) Bjarnarson; brothers-in-law, Everett (Genevieve) and Klemmet Ellefson; and sisters-in-law, Fern (Gwinn) Dunbar, Martha (husbands, Don Hagen and Milton Dulong), and Grace Ann Carpenter.

Shirley’s life will be celebrated during a Memorial Service on Saturday, June 12, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. at Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church on Washington Island. She will be laid to rest in Washington Island Town Cemetery.

Visitation for family and friends will be held from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at the church. Per the CDC guidelines, masks are recommended for those who are unvaccinated.

Shirley’s family wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to Unity Hospice, Paula McDonald, and the countless Islanders, family, and friends who looked after and cared for Shirley.

Casperson Funeral Home & Cremation Services of Sister Bay are assisting the family. Expressions of sympathy, memories, and photos of Shirley may be shared with her family through her tribute page at