On Nov. 15, 2022, we lost Ellen Krohn at the age of 73. “Mimi” as those close to her called her — and they were many — was formally Mary Ellen Krohn, born Mary Ellen Coffey in Connecticut on Jan. 20, 1949. She spent her early life on the East Coast and her high school years in the suburbs of Chicago where she met her husband Hal and had two children, Susie and Jake. To find a life more closely suited to their personalities and family goals, Hal and Ellen would pack two vans in 1978 and adventure out to California where they settled in Fortuna. Following her passion for education, Ellen worked in the Fortuna and Humboldt County schools in many capacities over the years while earning her English degree and teaching credential at Humboldt State University. She taught mostly sixth grade in Fortuna for 25 years before finally retiring in 2014. So many kids she taught felt like she propelled them in their journey through school and felt her effort deeply and positively.
Ellen’s daughter Susie had two kids, Kai and Bryan, whom Mimi doted on with as much passion as she could muster. Susie developed breast cancer and passed away in July 2008 at the age of 39. A devasting loss. Her son Jake met his girlfriend Jess and her son Miles in 2018. Mimi and Miles had time to bond and get close in the 4 years before she passed. Kai and Bryan have wonderful partners in Shirine and Ali. Mimi felt so lucky and happy to see her son and grandsons find love and begin to start families.
Mimi lived a warm and love-filled life. She and Hal ran a deeply welcoming house in which all felt comfortable any time of day or night, announced or unannounced. They were surrogate parents to any kid who could use the surplus of love they had to give. Multiple kids moved into the house for periods of time when they felt like they needed a place to get their feet on the ground. We all learned how to play music in the backyard shop and she and Hal drove us all to shows and came to everyone they could over many years. Everyone felt the unconditional support from Ellen and Hal.
All throughout her life Ellen was very social and involved. From organizing Grange dances in the '80s with music and potlucks to volunteering at the library in her retirement. Always at a political march. Always petitioning and volunteering to write for a cause. Always standing up for justice. In retirement, she picked up the ukulele and played with different groups of friends. She was very proud of that and so happy and intrigued to be involved in that side of music after so fervently supporting the music of her husband and children and grandchildren for so many years. She took art classes and was always excited to attend the classes to see her friends as well as to show us all her progress. She took up birdwatching. Always a fan of nature, especially the ocean, she loved to get outside and walk and learn about birds and flowers.
Mimi loved to hang out. To chat and laugh, or sit quietly and just be, just soak up the life that others exuded. She just loved people. And people loved her. She was a presence without being a presence. Quietly but robustly and genuinely validating those around her, making everyone feel they mattered, and they could do anything they wanted. That’s who she was as a parent, a friend, a teacher, and even an acquaintance.
Ellen developed kidney disease in the early 2000s. She had many hospital visits and surgeries, related and unrelated over two decades. Throughout all this, she endured with nearly no complaints and a smile on her face. Mimi didn’t need much. She was so content with her life and felt grateful throughout.
Ellen is survived by her husband, Hal, her son Jake, her grandsons Bryan and Kai and Miles, and siblings Kate, Dave, Steven, and Meg and their families.
A celebration of life will be held in the spring, and we’ll welcome all who knew her. Date to be determined.