Mrs. Linda Jane Lusk Engstrom, 82, passed away on Tuesday December 22, 2020 after several weeks of declining health.
Mrs. Engstrom was born on October 13, 1938 in San Diego, California to Trubie Carlile Lusk and Florence Gary Lusk. As the child of a naval officer and the eldest of three children, she spent her childhood moving from coast to coast learning the values of hard work and grit while fostering a lifelong passion for learning. Devouring books, newspapers and magazines, she amassed a wealth of knowledge few could match. Before there was Wikipedia, there was Linda (aka “The Giant Brain” – a nickname she chose for herself).
She graduated from Norview High School in Norfolk, Virginia in 1956 and Duke University School of Nursing in 1960. Just after graduating from Duke, she met her future husband and soul-mate George Engstrom, a pediatric resident at Duke. Linda loved to tell this story of their initial meeting. While examining a patient, George asked Linda to assist with moving the child and in doing this, her nose was placed directly in his arm pit and it was love at first smell.
They were married in 1961, had their first child in 1962 and their second child in 1963.
The family settled in Concord, NC where they welcomed two additional daughters into the fold. Linda, to say the least, was not your typical southern lady. She had little use for keeping up appearances and took great pleasure in watching people’s reactions to her off-color politically incorrect dirty sarcastic wit. She also was not your typical mother. Having been raised a Navy brat with frugal depression-era parents, she raised her four daughters to understand the meaning of reduce, reuse, recycle before it was cool. This included shopping at Goodwill, collecting remnants of soap bars in old pantyhose to create homemade exfoliators, and coming up with 101 uses for old Tide scoops. She never threw anything away that could possibly have some future use and held firm to her belief that expiration dates on drugs and food were simply “guidelines”. Though we joke about her Tide scoops, Linda was also a gifted collector of antique toys, pottery, Russian enameled spoons, Cranberry glassware, bronze figurines, and much more. She reached her zenith as a collector when she appeared on Antiques Roadshow with her collection of little tin toy rooms which was featured in their “best of” series. https://www.pbs.org/video/appraisal-marx-lithograph-tin-toy-rooms-ijfbcf/
What Linda saved by being frugal she gladly spent on travel. She and George literally trotted the globe visiting such sights as Soviet Russia, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Switzerland, Egypt, Cameroon, Kenya, Tanzania, the Galapagos, and Australia.
Linda was very active in a wide range of local clubs and volunteer organizations which satisfied her inner need to give back to the community, her thirst for knowledge, her artistic bent and her need for camaraderie with like-minded nuts who came together to play bridge, read books, paint, and/or talk about gardening (and who regularly invited their other halves over for raucous holiday parties). In addition to partying, Linda and her friends provided much-needed service to the community. One such activity was updating the bulletin boards at their neighborhood elementary school during the time of school integration to ensure that all children were represented. As a Girl Scout troop leader, Linda also provided rides to girls that otherwise could not have participated. She and George were active in Historic Cabarrus which sought to stem the tide of demolition of historically significant buildings in and around Concord. While she did not regularly attend church, she studied and knew the Bible, loved God and knew God loved her.
She was a complex character who could make you love her one minute then walk away shaking your head the next. To the end she was fiercely independent and still sharp as a tack. As one of her recent caregivers stated “She was difficult but she was funny”.
Linda was preceded in death by her parents Trubie Carlile Lusk and Florence Gary Lusk, her brother Wayne Lusk, her daughter Clarissa “Gooey” Engstrom and her beloved cat Mr. Lucas. She is survived by her husband George Engstrom, her sister Cheryl McGee, her daughters Lisa Nisenson, Andrea McKay and Elana LePabic, her grandchildren Nate Nisenson, Stanton McKay, Georgia McKay, Cecile LePabic, and Margo LePabic.
She was loved and will be missed. A private family service will be held at a later date. The family asks that memorials be made to First Baptist Church of Concord, NC or to PBS.