Elda Louise Hutchinson Cressman
Elda Louise Hutchinson Cressman died May 6, 2023 at 95 years, having experienced a wonderful and full life.
Elda was born at the Hutchinson homestead south of Watrous, Saskatchewan, Canada, July 11, 1927. Her parents are Jessie Iva (nee: Hoover) Hutchinson and Albert Russell Hutchinson.
One of her earliest memories is of her grandmother playing the organ and singing "The Old Rugged Cross." During one of these living room recitals, Elda realized that Jesus Christ had died for her. In response, she accepted the gift of salvation and became a follower of Christ.
A second significant faith experience occurred when she was 11 years old. Again, at the farm, she was upstairs feeling alone. As she read Scripture, she was drawn to Jesus' promise; "I will send the Comforter " (John 14:16) and felt instructed to kneel beside the bed. As she prayed, she felt the Holy Spirit wash over her and give her His peace. While she did not have the vocabulary for it at the time, she was baptized by the Holy Spirit.
When she was 12, the Second World War began. They moved to Prince Albert where her father accepted an accounting position. That year, Elda participated in an ice-skating performance.
On Sundays, Elda sang in the church choir in Regina. During the afternoon, she biked to the church's outreach mission center where she taught a community Sunday School class.
During High School, she won several drama awards including a silver cup as 'best actress.' Thus, she earned the Little Theatre Club scholarship to the Banff School of Fine Arts. While studying at BSFA, Elda was again awarded "Best Actress Award." She earned a certificate in drama which formed the foundation for her minor in theatre in college. As a senior, she won the lead part in Rainmaker.
Elda attended The University of Southern Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, graduating with her BFA in 1948 – before her 21st birthday! During these years, she earned funds for college expenses supervising a children's playground in Regina. She was allowed to work 60 hours per week to maximize her income.
Her final year of college, she served as drama director. Her senior year, she was selected to receive the 'major activities award' presented to one outstanding senior each year.
Elda's first employment following graduation from college was with The Hudson Bay Department store in Calgary. She became involved in the Hudson Bay Ladies Programs and often made presentations of the Amish merchandise.
Discovering that the income from her retail job was not adequate, she took a job with the YWCA (Calgary). During the weekend she served as a counselor at the Banff campgrounds. In the city, she organized community activities for children. At Banff, she went on trail rides and other activities. Winters included memorable swims in the hot springs with crazy snowball fights!
Finding that she was not able to earn a livable wage with the Y, she accepted a payroll position with Sun Oil Company, Calgary, Canada. She verified the pay checks for all Canadian employees.
A fun, good looking, jovial young man caught her eye while attending the Baptist Young People's Union Fellowship of Calgary First Baptist. In a rather impulsive, flirtish moment, she pulled the chair from under him as he sat. He hit the floor, performing a backward roll, and rose to his feet laughing. The romance began.
Kenneth Stanley Cressman and Elda dated for two years before being married in Calgary in 1950.
Ken had been recruited by Amerada Petroleum Company. He was hopeful to move back to Calgary. After marriage though, they moved to Tulsa, OK, USA! Thus began their first international adventure.
First, they lived in Tulsa where David ('51) was born. Then they went to Artesia, NM, Brownfield, TX, Hobbs, NM, and back to Tulsa. In Tulsa, Keith ('56) and Dan ('59) were born.
Elda served in leadership of the Geophysical Society Auxiliary. She hosted several gatherings and events in the home. Her involvement increased the year that Ken was responsible for organizing the annual convention.
Once a US citizen, she felt voting was an important responsibility. To that end, the home became a neighborhood polling center on election days.
Elda devoted much of her life while the children were younger, to rearing the children. She led as a Cub Scout den mother (1963-64). She taught Sunday School at Memorial Baptist Church, Tulsa, were she also served as co-superintendent of the junior and high school departments.
As Sputnik crossed the heavens, the space race was on! Part of the US and global response included raising the level of science and math education. She chose at this time to return to a career which she had begun as a teenager: teaching.
Having earned teaching credentials and a special certification in science from The University of Tulsa, Elda was assigned to teach one of the new, higher level junior high science courses: Introduction to Physical Science. This was among the most advanced science education programs available for this age group in the country. Notably, it included a lab, which led to, er, interesting, unofficial chemistry experiments by a few of her more promising students.
A highlight of her teaching experience occurred in 1974 when her students swept all the awards in the State International Science Fair competition.
1974 included several major life events. The most significant was the death of Elda's mother in Vancouver, BC. Ken's great-uncle died that same year. Hess Oil & Chemical Company had completed its earlier purchase of Amerada and began consolidating operations in Houston. Elda and Ken decided, after 27 years in Tulsa, to accept a new position with a different petroleum company ARAMCO of Saudi Arabia. Thus, began the second international adventure of Elda and Ken's lives.
Their first station was at Caterham, Surrey, England, where they lived for 7 years. In England, they welcomed many friends as well as friends of their children. Most guests were relieved to let Elda or Ken drive on the 'wrong' side of road rather than doing so themselves.
Dan had the unique opportunity of attending and graduating high school in London as well as experiencing many, many travel adventures across Europe and North Africa.
Elda and Ken's third international adventure began when they relocated to Dharan, Saudi Arabia. Dharan served as a launch point to travel and explore a whole new quadrant of the globe and eventually to circumnavigate it. They were able to visit neighboring countries, but not with the same freedom as they had in the West. They were not allowed to visit Israel.
In Saudi, Elda learned to wisely navigate the intricacies of living as a Western woman in an Islamic country. She was once the object of cat-calls and whistles by teenage boys because she had not covered her arms and face while walking on the sidewalk in town. She also became acquainted with the underground Christian movement.
Elda returned to the states in July 1988 when Ken retired. They dubbed the transition "Out the gate in '88!"
On the way home, they traveled west to east so that they could complete their third international adventure by closing the remaining section of circumventing the planet. On the way home, they visited places such as Bangkok, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Hawaii. This extended trip included a Nile River cruise.
They lived in Saudi for 6 years, England for 7, Tulsa for 26, and Canada for 23. Then Stillwater, OK. World travelers indeed!
In Stillwater, they set camp at a home with a swimming pool, treehouse, and large yard. As was their plan, the pool became an irresistible attraction for their grandchildren.
Ken became involved in 'everything;' United Methodist Men (breakfasts, studies), Lion's Club (cook shack, president), etc. Elda and Ken thoroughly enjoyed the International Convention of the Lion's at Montreal in the 1990's while he was serving as club president.
Together they served as Stephen Ministers and completed Stephen Ministry leadership training in San Antonio. They delivered meals with "Meals on Wheels" for 13 years. They are supporters of the "Circle of Care" as an expression of their concern and care for vulnerable children.
Many of the boys' family vacations included a great time at Grandma and Grandpa's! Their home became a home base of sorts for some of the grandkids during their college years or 'living away from home" for a summer.
Ken died September 29, 2004. He and Elda were "soul mates" and Mom missed him greatly. He was the one she would discuss all things with and who would be her sounding board for ideas or just to vent. She shared that her life is not as full without him. Yet, since his death, she has grown closer to her children, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren.
Elda sold her Stillwater home to move to Edmond. Later, she sold the Edmond home and moved to Bradford Village, Edmond.
Elda loved each of her grandchildren (6) and great-grandchildren (6) and appreciated their unique personalities and characteristics. Becoming acquainted with Katherine was an unexpected bonus. She finds them interesting and is curious about everything they do. They are regularly in her thoughts and prayers.
Elda's favorite scripture verse is John 14:1-5, where Jesus tells us:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going." (NIV)
Recently, her relationship with Christ focused on the fact that it is because God loves each of us and wants us to be with him, that Jesus died for our sins and offers us eternal life. God is motivated by love. Jesus loves you and invites you to know him as Forgiver and Lord.
A memorial service is planned at Bradford Village, Thursday, May 18 at 4:00.
Interment and a private family remembrance will be held later.
In lieu of flowers, please consider making a gift to the Oklahoma Circle of Care, 1501 N.W. 24th St., Suite 214, Oklahoma City, OK 73106. Thank you.