Margrit Howald Englehartson | Passages

July 10, 1926 – January 24, 2024

Margrit Englehartson, 97, a longtime resident of Orcas Island, passed away on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 in Tacoma, Washington.

Margrit was born in Brugg, Switzerland on July 10, 1926. Her best memories of the early years were of hiking and skiing in the mountains with her parents and three siblings. Her father was a prominent university professor who often took the children to lectures to expand their education at a young age.

She was acutely aware of the political situation in the rest of Europe beginning in the mid-1930s and throughout World War II. While Switzerland was officially neutral during the war, they still were impacted in several ways. Refugees took up residence in the schools, night trains with German war materials rattled through their towns enroute to Italy, and frequent air raid sirens sent residents to temporary shelters.

Margrit first came to the U.S. in 1956 after receiving training in the newly emerging discipline of Occupational Therapy. She accepted a short-term position with a rehab center in Georgia, followed by helping to start an Occupational Therapy department in a hospital in San Francisco.

In 1961, she visited Orcas and Crane islands for the first time with friends. She fell in love with the islands and in 1963 started working at the Orcas Island Pottery, thus embarking on her next career as an artist. She soon met neighbor Stan Englehartson and they married in 1964.

On Orcas, she dedicated herself to many community endeavors, including the arts, the environment, and education. She helped start the first preschool and public Kindergarten, was a charter member of the Orcas Choral Society, was a founding member of the Orcas Island Artworks, volunteered at the library, volunteered many hours at the Orcas Center, and much more.

After several decades on Orcas, her constant quest for knowledge and adventurous spirit soon took her to northern California during many winter months where she attended art classes at the Rudolf Steiner College.

In her final years, she still excelled at drawing and painting, spending many hours perfecting her creations. Frequent walks took her out into the fresh air where she would collect interesting leaves to preserve and draw. All while still doing her daily yoga. She often remembered Orcas with fondness and longed for the days when she was able to live there without assistance.

She is survived by her daughter Lyn Englehartson, grandson Ethan Baker, son-in-law Paul Baker, numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews, and special friends in the U.S., Switzerland, and Canada.