Elsie Milde was born in Selby, S.D. in 1906, but grew up in Wishek, N.D. so that her father Carl could be close to his job on the Soo Line Railroad, and his parents who lived there. The family later moved to Bismarck, where Elsie would be the only one of the four Milde children to graduate from high school. Carl and Christina Milde divorced when Elsie was 13. When she was 16, she met Archie Amundsen in Wishek, whom she would later marry. After finishing high school, Elsie worked a variety of jobs, including as a tailor and clerk at Herr Bros. in Wishek, and with Dr. Chet Dursema in Bismarck as a dental assistant. Elsie and Archie married in 1930, and had a daughter Ardith two years later. In 1945, the Amundsen family moved to California. Archie died in 1979, and Elsie died in 1995.