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Longtime USO volunteer passes away

Ella Young, 88, volunteered for more than 25 years

United Service Organization McChord Center volunteer Ella Young, pictured here at a deployment send-off in April 2010, passed away recently at the age of 88. She was the longest tenured volunteer in the USO Puget Sound Area ranks. /J.M. Simpson

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Ella Young spent the final years of her life doing what she loved most: volunteering and putting a smile on the face of Servicemembers visiting the United Service Organization's McChord Field Center.

Young passed away Dec. 28 at the age of 88 at an area hospital.

Young volunteered with the USO Puget Sound Area for more than 25 years and was the organization's longest tenured volunteer, according to Don Leingang, USOPSA executive director.

"This is my enjoyment," Young told The Ranger/Northwest Airlifter newspaper in April 2010 while attending a mass troop deployment at the USO McChord Center. "When you do something like this, you do it with your heart."

Young was born October 18, 1923 in Speilberg, Germany. She grew up in Germany and in 1944 married Hans Hohnse. Together they had a child, Juergen (Jay). In 1952, she married the love of her life, George Young, while he was stationed in Germany. Their shared life brought them to the United States that same year, and they eventually settled with a second son, George, in Washington.

Young was active in the base chapel at McChord since 1963 and also spent time volunteering at Madigan Army Medical Center with her husband. Even after George Sr. passed away in 2005, she continued to serve at the USO.

Young recently invited Leingang over to her Puyallup home to gather some figs from her fig tree.

"It was a special time," Leingang said. "She was so kind. She just talked about how much the USO meant to her and her husband in their lives."

The energetic Young - who often cruised around town in a silver Audi A4 wagon - often walked around deployment send-offs striking up conversations with troops and handing out boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

"They're sad ... it's a very hard time for them to leave their family," said Young at the time. "I like to make them smile."

"She was always giving out the cookies," Leingang said. "There wasn't a guy there that could say no to her."

Even in her mid-80s, Young could still keep up with the late night deployment crew of volunteers at the center.

"It was amazing ... she'd be in there just as long as everybody else," said Gina Luplow, a McChord USO volunteer who worked with Young for three years. "A lot of people really respected her."

Young is survived by her two sons Jay (Diane) and George (Cathy), four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. A memorial service for Young is set for 2 p.m. Saturday (Jan. 7) at Church for all Nations, 111 112th St. E., Tacoma. Even in death, Young continues to serve military members that she loved so much, as in lieu of flowers the family is requesting that donations be made to the USO Puget Sound Area.

"That's such a special thing for us," Leingang said.

Donations can be mailed to 17801 International Blvd PMB 131, Seattle, WA., 98158 or online at Attn: Ella.

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