On the morning of Saturday, December 9, 2023, Naselle resident, Darlene Jane Warra Bjornsgard, passed away at the age of 79.
Darlene was born in Raymond, Washington on March 9, 1944 to parents George and Helvie (Pollari) Warra. Darlene was raised in Naselle, Washington, attending the Naselle-Grays River Valley School District and graduating with the class of 1962.
While Darlene was quick to note she “loved every job she ever had,” she was most proud of co-founding Finn Ware with her sister in 1987. Darlene served people and organizations across multiple communities, including various churches she attended throughout her life. The pinnacle of her church involvement was a trip to Israel in February 2016.
The Finnish American Folk Festival was very important to Darlene. She was proud of her Finnish heritage and this, coupled with her passion for community, earned her a spot as a founding member. Her devotion to growing the festival resulted in many successful events. Darlene’s presence in the FAFF cannot be duplicated and will be deeply missed.
In addition to her drive to better the community she so greatly loved, Darlene was led to give. She touched the lives of many and poured so much into those relationships. Roella, a woman from the Philippines, was a shining example of this. As a young girl who was part of a child sponsorship program, she was chosen by Darlene and they shared the same birthday. For years Darlene sent Roella support as part of this program. This relationship was fostered by a deeper connection and continued to grow into Roella’s adulthood. The two became close, despite being separated by thousands of miles. Darlene was selfless and cared immensely for those in her life.
Darlene loved to travel locally, domestically and abroad. For many years, she enjoyed visits to Arizona, soaking up the sun and dry heat, relaxing by the pool, shopping, connecting with friends and visiting her church away from “home.”
Throughout Darlene’s life of varying accomplishments and travels, one major value held true: family and its great importance. Darlene was beyond devoted to her loved ones and she unconditionally cared for her family each and every day. From her husband to her children, siblings to grandchildren, her love knew no bounds. Family functions were orchestrated by her impressive party planning, but really came together because of her great love.
She was an example of what it means to “walk by faith.” Darlene often said, “There are just some things in this life we won’t understand this side of eternity.” In her last days, she continuously encouraged those around her to “Trust God,” as she peacefully approached her earthly life’s finish line. Darlene is survived by her husband of 61 and one-half years Paul Bjornsgard, children Lori, Jeff, Ryan (Cherise) and Alissa (Chris), grandchildren Kaelee (Nate), Emily, Lauren, Cole, Paul, Wesley, Jadon, Adriana, Mary, Ava, great-grandchildren Knox and Cash, sister Dorothy (Evart) Smith and numerous other family members.
She was preceded in death by her parents, stepfather Willard Salme, and brother Larry Salme.
Remembrances can be made to “Darlene's Wishes for Roella” under Lori Dearmore’s account at Bank of the Pacific, The Finnish American Folk Festival, or one of the churches Darlene attended during her life.
A Celebration of Life will be held on April 7, 2024 at 3:00 p.m. in the Naselle School Gym.