Cover photo for Shirley Dot Nordtvedt's Obituary
1922 Shirley Dot Nordtvedt 2023

Shirley Dot Nordtvedt

October 16, 1922 — August 11, 2023



Shirley Nordtvedt October 16, 1922 - August 11, 2023, Bellingham, WA.                                         

Shirley Dot (Townsend) Nordtvedt, age 100, passed away peacefully August 11, 2023 at Rosewood Villa Senior Living, Bellingham. Shirley was born October 16, 1922 to Ralph and Lillie Mae (Unick) Townsend, at her parents’ home in Mountain View, west of Ferndale, WA. Her mother’s family were early pioneers at Mountain View. Shirley was the youngest of six Townsend siblings, and her mother gave her the middle name Dot, indicating “period - no more children.”                                                                      

Shirley lost her mother to cancer when she was seven years old and her mother only 42. Following her mother’s death, Shirley was raised largely by her older sisters, spending summers with her aunt, Mae Unick. During the depression years, her father often traveled to find work at various saw mills, returning home on weekends. Shirley graduated Bellingham High School, class of 1940.

On November 22, 1941 Shirley married Arthur M. Nordtvedt in Bellingham. Two weeks following Art and Shirley’s wedding the world abruptly changed with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Art found work as an apprentice shipwright building vessels for the war effort, while Shirley discovered her rewarding life’s work as a homemaker, raising her children and nurturing her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.               

Summers at the beach were important in Shirley’s life and memory. Summers shared with her sisters and their families and friends were a highlight, beginning with a rented cabin at the Portage and later on at Lummi Island, where Shirley and Art built a summer cabin. Shirley’s sisters also built homes on Lane Spit, with Mt. Baker as the backdrop. The east side of Lane Spit became the Townsend sisters’ summer compound where the Townsend cousins and their friends roamed free and where Shirley became an expert at finding agates.                                                           

After her children were grown, Shirley found another calling serving her Savior, Jesus Christ. For more than thirty years she attended and served as discussion leader at Bible Study Fellowship. With love and humor she imparted her font of wisdom that many still remember. Shirley was a faithful member of the Marietta Community Church and later Northwest Baptist Church. Her faith continued to sustain her in her later years. Shirley was a wonderful cook and baker. She was famous for her baked-from-scratch angel food cakes, her poppyseed muffins and wonderful apple, cherry and peach pies.


Shirley’s primary calling in life was her children. She had five children - daughter Kristine (Hugh) Chalfant and sons Steven (Leslie), Thomas (Lloydine), Gary (Carolyn) and Michael (Elsie) Nordtvedt. Her grandchildren - Stacey Nordtvedt (Noel Phillips), Jill Lenhard (Matthew), Karey Jones (Keith), Michael Nordtvedt (Mildred Medina), Jeffery Chalfant (Michelle), Thomas Nordtvedt (Rebecca), Joel Nordtvedt (Chey), Jeffrey Nordtvedt (Ky), and Brian Nordtvedt - and 20 great-grandchildren cherish their memories of playing with Gramma/Amma. Shirley’s family and all who knew her were forever enriched by her kindness.


Shirley was preceded in death by her husband Arthur Nordtvedt at age 91 in October 2013, culminating their nearly 72-year marriage. She was also preceded by her mother Lillie Mae Townsend (1930), father Ralph Townsend (1968) and her brother and sisters Norman Townsend, Evva Rhoades, Una Ecker, Leone Bishop and Beth Hudson.  

Shirley and Art’s ashes will be interred together at Bayview Cemetery in Bellingham at a private family gathering at a later date. A memorial service and gathering honoring Shirley’s life will be scheduled and announced in the near future. The family would like to extend its heartfelt thanks to Whatcom Hospice and in particular to Karen Jones for the care provided Shirley in her final months. For those wishing to make a donation in Shirley’s memory, the family suggests Whatcom Hospice Foundation.             

Shirley’s Memorial Service will be at 2:00 P.M., Saturday, October 21, 2023, at the Congregational Church, 2401 Cornwall Avenue, Bellingham, Washington.                       


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Service Schedule

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Saturday, October 21, 2023

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