In Memory

Claudia Dianne Ellquist

And yet another classmate leaves us.R.I.P Claudia

Claudia ELLQUIST Obituary

ELLQUIST, Claudia It is with great sadness that Claudia has passed away November 17, 2018. She was 70 years old. She led a wonderful life filled with helping the spirit and advancement of people. She is preceded in death by her mother, Virginia and her previous husbands, Charles Minner and Warren "Scotti" Steenbergh her husband of 17 years. She is succeeded by her husband of 24 years, John Yoakum; her father, Clarence; sisters, Suzanne Ellquist, Stephanie Bianchi and Barbara (Mike Schifano) Ellquist and numerous nephews, nieces and their offspring. She was born in Duluth, MN when her family lived in Lutsen, MN, then moving extensively with her military family to numerous places including Japan. She moved to Tucson in 1962. Claudia graduated from Palo Verde HS, UA and UA Law School in 1976. That time included a 2-year church stay in San Francisco for a Lutheran and Episcopal church mission. Claudia spent a brief time practicing law and 40+ years on community activism, including church activities, women's organizations, and the Green Party. She was a founding member of a group organizing opposition to Arizona's death penalty. She considered the death penalty immoral, unlawful, and completely ineffective. She ran for Pima County Attorney four times in order to highlight the elimination of the death penalty as a public issue. That opposition will not stop with her death, because of the organizing she helped put in place. She organized NOW chapters at the city, county, and state levels and served on the national board of directors for NOW. Claudia was an original member of the Arizona Clean Elections Commission, first appointed by the Arizona Legislature in 1999. She has worked tirelessly with Church Women United (CWU), Disciples Women's Fellowship, and First Christian Church. She has received a cash award from the Tucson Festival of Books for her writing in the category of non-fiction memoir. She successfully organized the county-wide effort to recall the Pima County Tax Assessor in 1994. Claudia subsequently organized volunteer efforts to pass Healthy Arizona I (Prop 203) and Healthy Arizona II (Prop 204) which successfully brought Medicaid to the state after 30 years without it. Claudia served as a mentor, role model, and beacon of hope to many people from many walks of life over the last 40+ years. She has had a profound effect on her church, and on the numerous people she has encountered over a lifetime of the pursuit of justice and mercy. Throughout all her life, she was guided by her faith, and by love. She was able to travel extensively in the US, Canada and especially Mexico, where she went every year until she couldn't do it anymore. In lieu of flowers, people are encouraged to work for passage of the ERA, or a charitable donation to NOW, or to the charity of their choice. A Memorial Service will be held at First Christian Church, 740 E. Speedway, on Saturday, December 1, 2018 at 11:00 a.m. with Rev. Ailsa Guardiola Gonzalez presiding. Arrangements by OASIS CREMATION AND FUNERAL CARE.


Published in the Arizona Daily Star on Nov. 25, 2018

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11/28/18 02:06 PM #1    

Deborah Jane Thomas

Claudia was a dear friend to me at Palo Verde high school.  We were in some classes together and I occasionally went over to her house.  I think she came to mine, as well. She was a shy girl then, unassuming, but smart. She dressed simply and was not interested in drawing attention to herself. I loved her large eyes which were so expressive, and her wispy hair. She was a serious student, took her assignments to heart, and got good grades, as I recall.  I felt comfortable around her.  We were not in the popular crowd, she and I, but we didn't mind, hanging back and observing has its benefits. I cannot remember if I met her in the Concert Choir or another class, but we hit it off and enjoyed a nominal friendship in that interim.  We didn't maintain contact after graduation.

How interesting to learn she got a law degree and was a voice in the community for human rights.  That's how dedicated a person she was.

I am sad to learn of her death and her loss to her family shall surely be felt.  I wished I'd kept in touch with her. I would love to have known her in her latter years.

I wish rest for your soul, my dear friend Claudia.  The memory of you is like picking the most eloquent looking flower in a meadow, for this was you.

Deborah Thomas


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