I have been married to Jonalee (Boyd) Mortensen for 43 years. We have four children and 13 and a half grandchildren. After Jonnie and I moved to Cowlitz County, three of our children joined us in the Pacific Northwest.
Our oldest Son, Erik Mortensen, lives in San Diego with his wife, Marian, and their 7 kids. Erik is an IT manager at an Avionics company in Vista, California. Marian has the toughest job of all, stay at home Mom for 7 grandkids.
Michelle Jones lives in Kalama with her husband, Rus Jones, and their three kids. Michelle is involved with the Kalama schools and is a frequent substitute teacher. Her husband, Rus, is a cyber security specialist working in Vancouver.
Our Son, Mikael Mortensen, lives in Seattle with his wife, Jennifer, and their one child. Mikael develops analytics processes for Expedia. He taught economics at LCC for one semester when he first moved to Washington State.
Elizabeth Maki lives in a Portland suburb with her spouse, Joanne and their two children. Elizabeth is a teacher at CAL, a charter school in Gresham, OR.
The Greatest Generation
My Mother, Georgette Croizat, came at the age of three to America through Ellis Island. She grew up in New York City and in the Boston area, and became an RN. With WWII still raging, she joined the Army and you see her here in her uniform.
At one point she was stationed at the military hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where in addition to our soldiers, Italian and German POWs were being cared for. There are stories to tell ... here are a couple.
The Italian POWs used rather picturesque language when they remarked to themselves in Italian about the nurses. My Mother one day, I suspect after an egregiously salty comment made about her, gave them a "thoughtful" response in Italian, a language over which she had a native command.
The AXIS POWs were both enthusiastic as well as demoralized. Their elation was because they had not had it so good as when they were POWs in America. Their demoralization can be summed up by a quote from one of them, "You aren't even trying." What they meant was that their homeland was in dire straits and to them America was nearly business as usual. That alone made me very proud to be an American.
My Father, Russell Mortensen, was born in his family home in Schroon Lake, New York State. He graduated from the public school in Schroon Lake; I think there were about 12 in the graduating class.
Although he did not go to college, I recall the many times he helped me with my algebra homework. Today, I see few college graduates who could match his command of English, geography, mechanics, and problem solving.
He was in Brooklyn when he tried to enlist in the army for WWII. Due to a heart murmur he was refused, but he finally was accepted by the Coast Guard and was stationed aboard troop transports taking our soldiers to Europe. There are stories to tell ... here is one.
An officer on the bridge noted a drip of hydraulic fluid on the deck. My Dad went up to trouble shoot the problem and found a fitting was loose. He tightened it and cleaned up the floor. Several hours later, while off duty there was a commotion and he went out on deck to see that his ship was well out of the convoy. Apparently the ship could not be steered, and the concern was serious. With stealth, he went back to the bridge and loosened that fitting that he had overtightened because he realized that he was the cause of the trouble. All went well after that ... he never told anyone.
He and my Mother were real American pioneers. Their personal courage and character are the America I know and love.
My Uncle, Victor John Croizat, had an illustrious career, first as a Marine Corps officer, and then in various capacities in international business and political analysis for think tanks.
In WWII he was involved with several nasty battles in the Pacific, and he was awarded the Bronze Star. Like many hard combat soldiers, he spoke very little about his experiences in battle. There are stories to tell, such as when he dove for cover into a tunnel opening and landed in the lap of a Japanese soldier ... who was already dead.
He was born in Tripoli, which seems fitting for a Marine. His facility with French and Italian helped him on diplomatic missions which he carried out while a Marine.
As an Uncle, he was great ... even as he rapped my knuckles at the dinner table to remind me of proper table manners.
The Great Scholar
My maternal Grandfather, Leon Croizat (aka Titi), had a very interesting life. His list of accomplishments is large and many of them can be found on the internet.
Let me tell you a little bit of what will not be found on the internet.
He went to law school at the insistence of his father; upon graduation he dropped his diploma on his father's desk, announcing, "This is for you, Father."
As an Italian army captain, he was stationed in Tripoli in WWI, hence the birth of my Uncle in Tripoli. It probably was at this time that he learned Arabic. His facilities with language were astounding. He published in English, French, Italian, and Spanish. He knew Greek, Latin, Russian, and Hebrew, and, of course, Piedmontese, a dialect from Turin, where he was born.
I took the picture shown to the right from an internet entry of a Venezuelan TV station. Titi was very well known in Venezuela and easily was a news item. The picture here shows him when he returned from an expedition to the headwaters of the Orinoco River.
I lived with him and my Grandmother when I was of kindergarten age. I have been amply blessed by my family.