Martha Granskog, who lived on Shelter Island from 1997 to 2011, passed away February 26 at the age of 102 at San Simeon Nursing Home, where she resided for almost three years.
Mrs. Granskog (nee Bränn) was born April 3, 1911 in the Swedish-speaking part of Finland, where she attended Swedish schools and maintained Swedish customs. She married Karl August Granskog in 1935, who built a small farmhouse in Norrnäs, where they later settled with their two children, Susie and John. With no job opportunities at home, Mr. Granskog came to the United States to find work in 1939, and was not able to return to Finland because of the onset of World War II. During the short summers and long harsh winters in Finland, Mrs. Granskog faced many challenges running the family farm and caring for her children.
In bitterly cold temperatures, she shoveled paths to the barn and outhouse through six-foot snowdrifts. She fed and milked the cows every day, delivered their calves and cleaned the barn. She sheared the sheep, spun and dyed the wool and made sweaters, socks and hats for her family. She wove countless rugs, curtains and blankets, tended the vegetable garden, and canned blueberry, strawberry and lingonberry preserves. She continually stoked the fire in the wood stove to cook, bake and heat the house.
After the war, Mrs. Granskog was eager to join her husband in the United States but felt she could not leave her mother behind.
With the money Mr. Granskog made as a carpenter and heavy construction worker in New York City, he sent cigarettes and coffee to Finland, where both were in high demand. Mrs. Granskog was delighted to treat her family and friends to coffee in her home, but sold most of it and the cigarettes at a lucrative price on the black market.
Upon her mother’s death and after not seeing her husband for 13 years, she sailed for America with her children in 1952. Mr. and Mrs. Granskog resided in Manhattan until 1969. From there they moved to Stratford, Connecticut where they took great pride in their cul de sac home and large garden. In 1992, they moved to Ramsey, New Jersey to be near their daughter and then followed her to Shelter Island in 1997.
After the death of her husband in 2004, she moved into her daughter’s home in Silver Beach. In her later years, Mrs. Granskog received Meals-on-Wheels, and was always happy and grateful to see the smiling faces of Tippi and Al Bevan, Marshall Numark, Jennifer Bouissey and other delivery volunteers. Nicknamed Santa Martha by her son-in-law Alexander Lange, she was always cheerful, had a hearty laugh and never complained about anything.
In addition to her husband of 69 years, she was predeceased by her four younger siblings, who remained in Sweden and Finland. She is survived by daughter Susie Lange of Shelter Island; son John Granskog (Marit Granskog) of Naples, Florida; granddaughter Kristina Lange of Shelter Island; grandson Robert Lange (Beverly Lange) of Oakland, New Jersey; and grandson Glen Granskog (Karla Granskog) of Chicago, Illinois. She is also survived by her great grandchildren Christopher Lange, Kal Lewis, and Lauren, Tyler, and Caden Granskog; and her cat Merlin.
Donations can be made in Martha Granskog’s memory to the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church.