Freida J. Ellenwood

Freida J. Ellenwood (Hayes) also known as Shirley Jean Hayes flew away to God’s celestial shore on December 14, 2023. She was born on October 9, 1938 in the family home in Kamiah, Idaho to Rose McConville and Edward Hayes. She would be the 7th born of 8 children between them.

She was a member of the Nez Perce tribe and was enrolled twice- once by her dad and once by her mom. They never straightened it out until she turned 18. She has gone by Freida Jane all her life, but the tribe changed it to Freida Shirley.

Freida grew up in Kamiah up until 1st grade, when she would move with her father and siblings to Vancouver, WA. She attended school there until the summer before 8th grade when the family returned to Kamiah and she would graduate from high school in 1956.

After high school, her dad told her they couldn’t afford to send her to school. She moved to Phoenix with her Aunt Helen and got a job in 1957. In December of that year, she left there and went to Bethany, MO and Kansas City. She stayed with Patty, her sister’s sister-in-law and got a job with Internal Revenue, but had to wait four weeks for pay, so she took off and got another job with thread salesman. She hoofed the streets of Kansas City and stayed until June.

At the end of that summer, she was told that they were starting Celilo settlement and she should apply. She was hired as a secretary to Nez Perce Tribe approval committee. She distributed Celilo money. During this time, she was the only secretary along with three accountants. Freida, along with Connie and Rosa were the first three secretaries for the Nez Perce Tribe.

In 1960, Freida began working for the BIA. She was hired as a GS 3 Welfare Clerk. After many years, she retired in 1995, but that was not the end of her career. In 2008, she rejoined the workforce as a CPS caseworker for the Nez Perce Tribe. In 2009, she changed work within the Social Services Administration Department and Financial Assistance. She would officially retire in August of 2021 at the age of 82.

She married Richard (Rick) Marcus Ellenwood on June 8, 1958 at Faith Tabernacle Church in Kamiah. That was their church to attend with her Dad. When they didn’t attend there, they went to Lapwai Assembly of God.

Freida and Rick were active in the Nez Perce County Democrats. She was seen on National TV holding a “Mondale/Ferraro” sign.

Together, they raised their children: Charles, Vern, Mollie, and Guy. Mike came to live with the Ellenwood family as a young boy and was the last child to leave the family home. Their first born, Marcus, passed as an infant. They raised their children to powwow and they also performed throughout the Pacific Northwest. They raised the kids to practice their traditional treaty rights of hunting, fishing, and gathering. They stayed active in following the kids in band, drama, and all school activities. Their support extended through to all their nieces, nephews, and friends of the kids. They could be seen at all the games, concerts, or activities that any family was taking part in. If they knew about it, they were there. Freida was always seen in the audience of those she loved.

Freida was also an accomplished pool player. She spent many years playing in the women’s league. She won the women’s championship and beat the men’s league champion, who turned out to be her husband, Rick.

She loved to go out dancing and was even caught doing the Cupid Shuffle at the Tribal Employee Christmas party in her late 70’s or early 80’s.

Freida lived a long and full life full of adventures, mostly to the casino later in life. She loved to go to the casino to play her Wampum and earn her points or enter drawings that she would almost never win. She could spend hours and hours in there and not notice time pass by… until she ran out of money and had to sneak home. She would say, “I didn’t win…. But I had fun trying,” which really meant, she probably won, but gave it all back. She enjoyed traveling and visiting the surrounding area casinos as well to “donate” to their per cap.

In the more recent days, she enjoyed reading, Game Show Network, and watching sports such as the Seahawks, Mariners, and Kraken along with all her grandchildren and great-grandchildren’s sports. She liked to watch the classics like The Golden Girls, Bewitched, Leave it to Beaver, Green Acres, and Mr. Ed.

She also spent many hours Facebook stalking friends and family. She never liked, commented, or posted much, but would talk about people like they had hours long conversation: “Oh, so and so went to Walmart today looking for shoes. They didn’t find them, so they had to go somewhere else,” or “So and So’s grandson got their first kill this weekend.” She always knew what everyone was up to.

Her musical styles ranged from Freddy Fender, Carole King, and Elvis to classical hymns. She played the piano and violin, inspiring her great-grandson, Ricky, to take up violin lessons. She was so proud of him for that.

Freida lived with her granddaughter, Loraine, and her three children, Halona (Remy), Jordan, and Ricky. She could often be found with them at sporting events, games, powwows, and one time joined in on a game of laser tag. She loved watching them be kids and would always oblige when they tried to include her in games or asked her to ride their scooter, join in on a game of Just Dance, or play Mario Kart. She loved the kids and all the activities they played in. She made it to every dance recital, basketball game, soccer game, or concerts right up until she simply couldn’t go anymore and even then, she would watch it on Facebook Live.

Freida died on December 14, 2023 in her home.

She was preceded in death by her parents, Rose and Ed; siblings, Marleita, Helen, Mary, Clara Jean, Ernestine, Charles “Pete”, and Vivian; and children, Marcus, Richard “Guy”, and Randall Vernon Ellenwood.

She is survived by her brother, Reggie James; children, Charles Ellenwood, of Lapwai, Mollie (Tom) Cline, of Everson, WA, Mike Wilson Sr, of Lapwai; grandchildren, Paula (Gordon) Ellenwood, of Temecula, CA, Rachel C. Ellenwood, LaVeda Ellenwood (Wallow), and Carol (Isaac) Ellenwood, all of Lapwai, Naomi (Joey) Ellenwood, of Silverton, OR, Raleigh (Shawna) Ellenwood, of Clarkston, Louis (Jessica) Harris and Loraine Harris of Lapwai, Alex Ellenwood, and Michael Wilson Jr; great-grandchildren, Dominique V. Ellenwood, Markus Ellenwood, Malaya Ellenwood, Whitney L. Greene, Ferrence Greene, Terance Greene, Michael Harris, Jaycee Harris, Lakollakin Harris, Yaaka Tsits Kanint Harris, Arlondo Lopez, Kimora Lopez, Tyiesha Ellenwood, Lance Ellenwood, Shayla Lawrence, Leilani Garcia, Katelina Garcia, Elias Wilson, Tanner Wilson, Halona (Remy) Reeder, Jordan Reeder, and Ricky Hayes; and grand-puppies Kuso and Tayem.

Funeral services will be held on Monday, December 18th at 7pm with a non-denominational memorial service and Tuesday, December 19th at 10am with Christian church services. Dinner and small giveaway to follow.

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