UJ’s Oldest Alumna, Zora Selliken(’31), passes at age 106
Zora Selliken was believed to be the oldest resident of Torrance, CA when she died last week at the age of 106.
It was a remarkable run for the former schoolteacher, who remained an active member of Torrance’s Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd until she passed away Wednesday.
Retirement? That came at age 95 after her second career working with her son’s firm, a job that sent her traveling the nation to administer medical board review courses.
Driving? She voluntarily relinquished her license at 103.
Zora Selliken was born May 25, 1910, and lived through two world wars along with the Great Depression. She spent her childhood living about 10 miles south of the Canadian border.
She and her sister learned independence growing up in a harsh climate in rural America.
Zora earned a Bachelor of Arts from University of Jamestown in 1931, where she majored in English and minored in Latin.
She taught school in Kansas and would drive 1,600 miles across country and back — before there were paved roads — to visit her sister.
She also did a stint teaching school in Alaska to earn more money.
“She had to sign a contract that she wasn’t going to get married,” said her good friend Terry Bledsoe, adding that she wound up meeting her husband there.
Selliken and her late husband, who died in 1990, moved to Torrance, CA in 1961 when he was transferred by the Air Force from South Dakota to Southern California.
It was then that she joined the Church of the Good Shepherd, where she held the longest tenured membership.
She and Bledsoe bonded years ago as friends in the church’s quilting ministry that makes and donates quilts to a battered women’s shelter in Long Beach.
Selliken was a regular at church until only recently, she said, and was “constantly doing things.”
A memorial service will be held at noon Jan. 8 at the church, with a lunch to follow.