Laina Margrete Molbak, a devoted and passionate supporter of social causes, nurse, hard-working co-founder of Molbak’s Garden + Home, and beloved family matriarch, died peacefully at home on March 30, 2018 at the age of 92.
Laina was born September 11, 1925 in Støvring, Denmark and completed her nurse’s training at Aarhus Community Hospital, in Aarhus, Denmark prior to emigrating to the USA in 1950 along with her husband, Egon. She settled in Seattle where she established herself as a Registered Nurse, a profession she truly loved. Laina grew up in a family of educators who took their civic duties and love of country seriously so it was no surprise that in 1958, she was selected from 3000 of her fellow newly-naturalized citizens to speak in a ceremony at Volunteer Park, Seattle, about why she became an American and what American citizenship means to the individual.
“…What do we expect from the coming generation? … that they will live and be educated in a country of which they will be proud; that they will receive the security, spiritual strength and respect which only an independent and broad-minded nation can give. We, their parents, carry a great deal of that responsibility. What is done today builds tomorrow. Let them live in a society that will inspire each person to be a flowering individual, to defend what they believe in, free from dull uniformity….”
Her words from that time guided all of her actions: as a nurse, wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, neighbor, volunteer, fundraiser, employer and business leader throughout her life and through her last days.
With her husband Egon, she built the small greenhouse and nursery business they purchased in 1956 in Woodinville, Washington into the largest retail garden center in the Northwest receiving over one million visitors a year. Laina was known as “the marketing mind” who conceived of the retail operation and some of its most beloved community events including the Poinsettia Festival and October Floral Fairyland. Her decisions were always made based on respect for customers and for employees.
Laina proudly served the nursing profession at Swedish and Harborview hospitals in the 1950’s and later as a volunteer at Seattle Children’s Hospital. One of her favorite nursing experiences was working as the summer camp nurse in the early 1950’s at Girl Scout Camp Robbinswold on Hood Canal.
Laina passionately devoted herself to the greater Seattle community. She was an inspiring fundraiser for the Eastside YWCA and was instrumental in the drive to create the Y’s Family Village for homeless women and children in Redmond. She was a member of innumerable social service organizations including F.I.S.H. and Planned Parenthood. She served over thirty years as an advisory board member at the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington. Laina was also a member of the Women’s University Club and the Northwest Danish Association.
Laina loved the arts and to challenge her mind. Nothing rivaled her books! Devoted to her book club for decades, a conversation with Laina would almost always include the question: What are you reading these days? For her it was usually a book a week. Recently she finished reading Hamilton and then went on to a book about the creation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Laina read the entire newspaper every day, citing the importance of knowing current events from sports to news.
Laina was deeply spiritual and devoted to God from whom she found strength and guidance. She was an active member of the Episcopal Church: St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Medina; St. Augustine in the Woods, Freeland (Whidbey Island) and a former member of The Church of the Redeemer, Kenmore.
Above all else, Laina’s greatest joy came from her family and nature. Her grandchildren could always count on an offer to play Hearts with an accompanying bowl of her famous Andes mint chocolates when they visited. And her energy was continually renewed by God’s great earth.
Laina is survived by her husband Egon Molbak; brother Per Mølbak (Denmark); children Ellen Molbak Welsch (husband John), Kirsten Molbak Paterson (husband Rob), Jens Molbak, and Heidi Molbak (husband Rob Verchick); grandchildren Shon Olson, Ryan Olson (wife Robyn Stern), Jason Olson (wife Amber), Rebecca Blaede (husband Mark), Laina Paterson Summers (husband Donald), Andreas Molbak, Kel Molbak, Margrete Molbak, Reed Molbak, Ty Molbak and Luke Molbak; and great-grandchildren Justin, Harrison, William, Jacob, Oscar, Thomas and Izzy.
Donations in memory of Laina may be sent to: YWCA Seattle|King|Snohomish (www.ywcaworks.org/donate); the Nordic Heritage Museum (www.nordicmuseum.org); and the Northwest Danish Association http://northwestdanish.org.