Della Erlene (Blumhagen, Cornwall) Pederson

Della Erlene Pederson

Della Pederson, 96, died of loneliness and isolation during the Covid pandemic on July 13, 2020.

Della was born to John Ernest and Margaret Hazel (Berry) Specker in the flatland outside Ree Heights, South Dakota on March 5, 1924. Their life was primitive, with no indoor plumbing, on a piece of land where her dad raised goats, cattle and horses. The family was looking for relief from the Dust Bowl and made the trek to Wenatchee in 1936 with another family after friends from Ree Heights moved there and loved the area. Her Dad stayed behind to sell off the livestock, so oldest son Dwight became the man in charge, driving Grandma and the other children in their big truck with a Grandpa-built box on the back with two double beds and all their worldly goods. Mom still talked about the beautiful sight of seeing, for the first time, apples hanging on trees as they came down the hill from Waterville to the Columbia River. From a one-room schoolhouse with 14 kids to a new school with hundreds of kids was frightening for her. She graduated from Wenatchee High School in 1942. With her porcelain skin and long red hair, she headed east to Whitworth College. With no freckles but the last name Specker, her nickname became “Speckie.” The Whitworth years were her glory years. Her junior & senior year, she was asked to live with Dr. Frank (Lucille) Warren, President of Whitworth College, and serve as a hostess for functions. This job provided her room and board so she could complete her degree. Now engaged and ready to graduate, in May 1946, Mom was selected May Queen at Whitworth and the following month, she married Earl Blumhagen. Together they called Spokane home with their children, Rick, Dianne and Bob. Following her divorce in 1965, Della moved to Yakima where she taught at Robertson, McClure, Broadway and Madison. In June 1966 she married Earl Cornwall, a widower & a Wenatchee high school classmate. She took on the mother role for his children – Mike, Linda (Camie), Tom (Tee) and Sally. Earl’s job with Rice-A-Roni / Mission Macaroni took them to Edmonds, Salt Lake City, Denver then Seattle. The Denver/Salt Lake life was a creative time for her as she secured a patent, produced and marketed a sewing notion, “Sew Easy Buttonholes.” Eventually they moved back to Yakima where they bought Heritage Bridals that opened a new world of white gowns, veils and tuxedo rentals. Prior to Earl’s sudden death, they had purchased an Airstream trailer and were ready to hit the road. Now, with Earl gone, Mom practiced her trailer hauling and parking skills early each morning in the Shopko parking lot. She soon figured out that she didn’t want to pull a trailer and traded the trailer in for a Minnie Winnie. Off she went! She met a new widower, Russell Pederson, and they hitched their Minnie Winnie wagons and did lots of traveling. Mom prided herself that she had visited all 50 states. Following Russ’ death, her new activities became those offered through group living settings. She helped start the Life Long Learning Program at Living Care. She loved her Mac computer and the internet. She spent countless hours researching Earl Cornwall’s WWII service, the Underground Railroad and the cathedrals of Europe. Wearing her fair beads, you would find her most days working on a jigsaw puzzle.

She is survived by children Rick Blumhagen (Sean), Dianne LaBissoniere (Joli and TJ), Mike Cornwall (Farrell, Angie, Katy, Jamie), Linda Graham (Jack), Tom Cornwall, Sally Wilson (Andy, Gabby) and daughter-in-law Francy Blumhagen, great- and great-great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. She is also survived by members of our chosen family, the Horey family.

Della was preceded in death by her parents, siblings (John, Dwight, Lloyd, Velma, Dorothy, Marvin) and her beloved son Bob Blumhagen.

Private family services will be held at the Wenatchee Cemetery.

The family extends their deep appreciation to the staff at Fieldstone Memory Care who worked tirelessly to keep their residents safe during the most difficult of times.

If desired, donations can be made in her memory to YWCA #livelikeemily Campaign, 818 W. Yakima Avenue, Yakima 98902 or Cottage in the Meadow c/o Memorial Foundation, 2701 Tieton Drive, Yakima 98902.