Lenora Cassin


By Leanne Rowlands,



Mom was born at home, on the dining room table, on November 24, 1920, to Nellie and Charles Rueben Dolman.  Her childhood home was near Green Lake on N 57th Street.  She was the fifth of six children, and was born the day her brother Joey, who died as a toddler, was buried.  Her parents gave her the middle name “Josephine” in honor of Joey.  As a child during the great depression her family got by without much money, and her father, who was a carpenter, had a difficult time finding work.  When between jobs, he would fish to help put food on the table.  Her mother worked as a domestic, and between raising 6 children, keeping the house, and her job, she was one tired wife and mother.  According to mom, her dad did not help with household chores as that was considered women’s work; definitely a sign of the times.   Mom had a very close relationship with her mother and always kept her near to her heart.  Unfortunately, she seemed to harbor resentment towards her father, describing him as hotheaded and selfish.




Mom graduated from Lincoln high school in 1938.  She told my sister, Laurie, that she worked just one day at the Guild 45th Theater in Wallingford.  On her first and only day working there, her boss pinched her on the fanny, and she decided not to go back. She also worked as an elevator operator in the Smith Tower in downtown Seattle, which at the time was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, and as a switchboard operator for Bell Telephone.  Mostly, she was a stay-at-home mom.


Her first marriage was to Bill Monroe.  They had two children together, Arthur Francis, born in 1942 and Steven Charles, born in 1944.  It was a brief and difficult marriage that ended in divorce when the boys were still toddlers.



Her friends, Russ and Vera Breazeale, introduced her to their friend Ernie Hampton, a handsome motorcycle cop.  They fell in love and were married on December 7th 1946. Ernie eventually became a plumber for the University of Washington.  In 1948, Leanne Eileen was born, and in 1957, Laurie Joyce was born.  They had a fairly typical (and sometimes rocky) marriage for the time, struggling to get ahead and building their own home in which to raise their family of 4 children. They managed for 21 years through good times and bad.  On July 24, 1967, Ernie died suddenly of a heart attack at the young age of only 52.






Fortunately for mom, she only had one dependant child living at home at the time (Laurie, age 10), but it must have been very scary for her trying to figure out how to earn enough money to pay the mortgage and raise her young daughter alone.  She decided to go to business school and learn clerical work.  She also joined Parents Without Partners, and there she met Tom Cassin, at the very first event she attended.



Tom, a retired Naval Commander, was in college at the University of Washington working on his teaching certificate, and later became a schoolteacher for the Mercer Island School District.   They were married in June of 1969, and together they finished raising Tom’s son, Dan (he was 19 at the time – so they didn’t do much “raising”) and mom’s daughter, Laurie.  They had a comfortable and happy marriage.  They had a waterfront A-frame built on Mud Bay in Bremerton, on land that Tom had purchased in the1950s while in the Navy, where they lived for several years.  Tom had a long, daily commute to his teaching job on Mercer Island for a couple of years.  However, when he retired from teaching, he and mom enjoyed their A-frame, the view, and quality time together.  Mom enjoyed helping Tom in the garden.  They enjoyed an active social life with friends they made at the Retired Officer’s Club at the Navy base.  They loved music and sang in the Suquamish Congregational United Church of Christ together.  Tom played the guitar and they sang folk music at home.




They did a little traveling, mostly to Hawaii, a cruise to Alaska, and enjoyed staying at luxury ocean front hotels in Oregon.  Mom loved reading, and always had a book in her hands.  She also enjoyed working crossword puzzles, drinking coffee or sweet white wine, playing bridge and classical piano. Together, Mom and Tom enjoyed cooking, especially wonderful holiday meals, and we as a family enjoyed devouring them. Tom made a drop-dead delicious pork roast and mom the best hollandaise sauce, pies (she made piecrusts from heaven, just like her mom), and a chocolate cake filled with cream cheese, not to mention tuna casserole, scalloped potatoes, pot roast and many other wonderful dishes.



In 1995, Mom and Tom made their last move together, to a brand-new condominium in Redmond, Washington, to be closer to family.  They enjoyed their new condo.  It was close to everything – movie theaters, grocery stores and restaurants. They joined the Northshore United Church of Christ in Woodinville and developed a circle of friends, and enjoyed singing together in the choir.  They had a young friend, Duane, who came all the way from Poulsbo regularly so that he and Tom could jam on their guitars and the three of them enjoyed singing folk music together.



In early 1999, Tom, who had been a smoker since he was a teenager in the Navy, developed lung cancer.  He passed away on October 21, 1999 at the age of 82.  Mom was alone again and in the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease.  In 2001 she sold her condominium and moved to Emerald Heights, an extended care facility in Redmond.  A year later, she met Ev (Everett) Mansfield, and they enjoyed keeping each other company for 3 years.  Ev died in 2005 at the ripe old age of almost 95.  Mom’s Alzheimer’s had progressed, but she lived on for another 3 1/2 years.  She passed away on November 21, 2008 at Evergreen Hospice, 3 days short of her 88th birthday.



I can only imagine how difficult it was for her, living without memory.  I remember her once telling me that she felt like she was going crazy and asking me why she couldn’t remember her husband’s name.  In the last years of her life, the one person she always asked for was her mother, Nellie.  She also often spoke of her beloved childhood dog, Ryan, who, according to family lore, once rescued her when she was a toddler by grabbing hold of her diaper with his teeth, preventing her from going out in the street.  I hope mom and grandma are having a wonderful reunion, mom with her glass of sweet white wine and grandma (who rarely drank alcohol) with her favorite beer, a Miller High Life.  And I hope that Tom is accompanying them on his guitar as they catch up on their years apart, and that her dog, Ryan, and my dad, Ernie are also there to welcome her.



Mom was a spicy, strong willed, colorful character and was at times a bit irreverent and difficult to get along with (I’m sure she would like it noted that she would say the same about her children), and if she felt the urge, she had no problem telling you to “go to hell”.   In her later stages of Alzheimer’s she would tell me “I love you” and “go to hell” all in the same breath.  And though she had her faults, as we all do, and she and her children had strained relationships from time to time, we were family, and we all loved each other in our own unique and quirky ways.  At this sad time we would love to hear her say, “go to hell” a few more times.   She will be missed.


Mom was preceded in death by her father and mother, Charles (1948) and Nellie Dolman (1977), her ex-husband, Arthur William Monroe, husbands Ernest Hampton (1967), and Thomas Arthur Cassin (1999), her companion Ev Mansfield (2005), her son, Steven Charles Monroe (Hampton) (1999) her brothers, Joey (1920), Roy David (1922) and Charles Dolman, her sisters Evelyn McIntyre (1970) and Katie Robinson (1996).


She lives on through her children, Arthur Hampton, Leanne Hampton Rowlands, and Laurie Hampton, step-son Dan Cassin, her grandchildren, Erin Rowlands Wright and Lindsay Rowlands, Arthur Hampton and Genevieve (Genny) Hampton Inman, her great grandchildren, Kylie and Ashlyn Wright and Hannah, Ashley and Bruce Inman.


Mom’s request to be cremated has been honored and her ashes have been placed with Tom’s at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington


A gathering of family and friends will take place on Sunday, January 4th, at 11:30 a.m., at Emerald Heights in the Garden Room.  Please join us for a lunch of mom’s favorite casseroles and desserts, sweet white wine and coffee (other beverages, too!).  Please bring your funny (mom wants to be remember for her sense of humor), sad, maddening stories, prints of any photos of her that you have, and your laughter and your tears.


Her family would appreciate donations in her memory to the Alzheimer’s Association.




















A saying and a poem that were mom’s favorites:


“Growing old is not for sissies!”




(also known as Warning)

by Jenny Joseph


When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other peoples’ gardens
And learn to spit.
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

12 Responses to “Lenora Cassin”

  • Memories of Mom
    Art Hampton
    November 28, 2008

    About the first memory I have of mom is her leaving the home next to Russ and Vera’s to go to work – I believe at the phone company. She was wearing a dark coat and carefully picked lint off of it before departing. I recall Steve waking up in his crib upstairs in that same house once with lumps and hives from a can of mushroom soup. We were all very concerned. I remember blowing the candles out on Steve’s first birthday cake and weeping when mom told me it wasn’t my turn to blow out the candles, they were for Stevie.

    While we lived in ‘the shack’ I remember mom giving Leanne a bath in the sink and I was horrified that you seemed to be malformed as there was a gap where your penis should have been. She assured me that you were OK.

    I was grateful for mom’s love of music. I had violin lessons at an early age and although I never practiced much I developed a deep love of music too.

    I recall vividly a moment at Norm’s resort (was that at Cottage Lake?) when mom went swimming. She created quite a stir as she walked from the changing room to the water. She was a beautiful woman and had a terrific figure. She never had a problem finding wonderful men as partners.

    Do you remember Rod and Peggy Cyra and their kids? Or Ruby and George Caruthers and their children? Steve and I relished the trips to Pasco to visit them. We also had great fun on the trips to Canada and all the other long drives we took as a family on the amazing vacations Ernie took us all on. I remember Frankie Jim and Dean, but there was a younger boy whose name I don’t recall.

    Mom and Ernie’s marriage was a rocky one. At times they split up and Grandma would come and stay with us and help to keep the household together. I think a large part of their friction was mom’s displaced belief that Ernie wasn’t fair to Steve and me. Probably that stemmed from her resentment of her dad for the way he treated Grandma.

    Mom was a great sitter. She would sit for hours in her favorite chair next to the stove when we lived in the basement. It was the warmest place in the house. I inherited her skill at sitting, as well as her love of reading. As I previously stated, mom had discriminating taste in men but her aesthetic sense was flawed. I especially recall ceramic roosters over the fireplace. I may be alone in my distaste for them.

    She had amazing faith in me. I went on trips with my friend Kim Wallace to property they had on the Sammamish slough near the Wayne Golf Course. Kim was an excellent diver and entrepreneur and would make a small fortune retrieving golf balls from the slough and reselling them to the golfers. I was 12 or 13 when she let me start going on those trips. She made me promise that I would wear a life jacket when not actually diving for balls. I remember she paid a surprise visit to us while we were at the property one summer and caught Steve and I rowing on the slough. We were both wearing life jackets.

    She valued family highly and loved her brother Bud dearly, until she decided that he had been unfair to their mom. After that she resented him until and even after his death. We spent many happy times at Bud and Mary’s place at Lake Ballinger where Bud had his golf course. We also enjoyed times at the Green Lake home with Evelyn and Ken. The 4th. of July celebrations were especially memorable.

    Robbie always was fond of mom, and one year he invited mom and Evelyn down to visit them in San Jose. He took them on a tour of his favorite watering holes, which evidently was an extremely long tour due to his alcoholism. Robbie and Katy had an interesting relationship. Katy ‘divorced’ Robbie but rented a room to him in their home. After his death we discovered that they had never actually legally divorced. I’m leaving out juicy parts of this story out of respect for the departed.

  • Memories of Mom
    Leanne Rowlands
    December 7, 2008

    I remember a mother’s day when we went to mom and Tom’s in Bremerton to take mom a mother’s day gift. When we arrived I gave her my gift and then she gave me a beautiful hanging basket of flowers. I said, “It’s mother’s day and I’m supposed to give you the gift.” and she said, “When you became a mom, you gave me grandchildren and for that I want to give you a gift.”

    Mom loved to smoke her cigarettes and was quite militant about her right to do so. Occasionally, we kids would get on her case, trying to get her to quit. Once or twice she gave quitting a try and after a day of mom going through nicotine withdrawal we were all begging her to have a cigarette. When she was diagnosed (in her late 50s/early 60s, I think) with the beginning symptoms of emphysema, it scared the bejebbers out of her and she went to a hypnotist and eventually was able to “quit”. However, she told me she closet smoked occasionally after “quitting”. In the later stages of Alzheimer’s she would often ask me if I had a cigarette she could smoke.

    I remember lying on the sofa with my head in mom’s lap and her stroking my hair.

    One time, when I was in junior high school, mom and dad decided that together, we should all weed the yard. I didn’t want to, and I told mom that if I didn’t have to work in the yard, I would make dinner that night so that she wouldn’t have to. She agreed and I got out of the weeding project. I don’t remember what I made for dinner except for the mashed potatoes, which I mashed with the skins on. She was quite disappointed with my mashed potato recipe.

    One Christmas, maybe 4 years ago, when we returned to Emerald Heights after a drive, we were walking down the hall going to her room and we were singing Christmas carols together. I sang melody while she harmonized and I remember thinking how pretty we sounded together and admired her for being able to harmonize so easily.

    We went on lots of family camping trips together. I loved them, but I was never sure mom did (though she told me she did, when I asked her about our family camping trips, when she was in her early 80s). Because she told me that she had good memories of camping, I wanted to take her out in our tent trailer, but I was worried that she would fall on the steps that had to be used to exit the trailer and the many trips to the bathrooms she would need to take during the night (she was using a walker at the time). Unfortunately, I never took her camping.

    I remember that mom never liked hugging or saying “I love you”. I can’t remember receiving any hugs or “I love you’s” from her when I was growing up. When she moved into Emerald Heights, I decided that I was going to give her a hug and tell her that I loved her at the end of each visit… whether she liked it or not. At first, she was quite taken aback by my hugs and love you’s. Then one time she told me that even though she had never liked hugs, that she was beginning to enjoy them. Eventually, she began telling me that she loved me. Then she got to the point that she couldn’t remember telling me that she loved me and she would say it every 30 seconds. Sometimes I felt a little annoyed by the repetition.

    A few years back, Mom, her friend Ev, and I would go on weekly drives, weather permitting. Often we would be in the country and we would see a deer or two on our journeys. I would always pull over and we would watch the deer from the car. We all loved seeing the deer, but seeing them would especially excite Ev. A few days after Ev passed away, from a bout with pneumonia, I was taking mom out for our weekly drive and there was a deer on the other side of the Emerald Heights fence. I pointed the deer out to mom and told her I thought it must be Ev coming back to let us know that he was okay. I had never seen a deer at Emerald Heights before that day, and I never saw one after.

    One evening when I took mom back to Emerald Heights, we were walking down the hall towards her room. Austin, a resident of Emerald Heights was heading down the hall in the opposite direction, riding his scooter, after a visit with his wife. Mom walked up to him and gave him a big kiss, right smack on the lips and said “Hi, sweetheart. Did you miss me?” I was quite shocked at her boldness and wondered how Austin was going to respond. But Austin handled it with such finesse, saying, “Yes, I certainly did.” The moment was over and we all continued to our respective destinations. After much thought and deliberation on my part, I finally realized that mom must have thought Austin was Ev.

    Back in the early 1960’s mom made her coffee in a 30 cup coffee urn. She would make 15 cups of coffee in the morning and drink cup after cup all day long while smoking cigarettes. She liked it black back in those days. She loved the idea of drinking coffee right up until shortly before she died, often asking for a cup. Due to her health issues, she was usually given green tea, but told it was coffee. She would take a sip and declare that it was delicious.

    Often, when having lunch with mom, she would ask me, “How’s your mom” to which I would reply, “I don’t know, mom…how are you? Sometimes she would chuckle and say “Oh, ya”, remembering that she was my mom. Other times she couldn’t process what I had said and didn’t reply.

    Mom played classical piano beautifully and I loved hearing the music fill the house as she practiced.

    When mom lay in the hospital receiving comfort care only, she said, “go to hell” and “I love you”, something that she often said in the same breath, but now it took her two breaths. Laurie, Lindsay and I were there and we all heard it. When she lay dying, in hospice care, Laurie begged her to tell her to “go to hell”, but she didn’t respond.

    For the past 3 years mom continually said, “I need to go home”, and “I want to see my mom”. When I asked her what home she was referring to she would say, “Oh, you know, Leanne, 2117 N. 57th St. I was always amazed that she could remember her childhood address (and her childhood phone #, too). So once, about 2 ½ years ago, we drove to her childhood home near Green Lake. I thought that maybe seeing the old place would be good for her. The current owner was in his yard and when I told him that mom had grown up in his house, he invited us in to see the place. It was fun walking through, memories filling my/our head(s). Mom was very happy to get to see her old home again. But the next week when I visited with her, she told me once again that she needed to go home and see her mom.

    Mom was so adamant about calling her mom on the phone that the staff at Emerald Heights would pretend to call the Melrose # that she gave them. Unfortunately, no one was ever home or the number was busy. Mom was satisfied, until she needed to talk to her mom again.

    Mom once told me that she hoped that she would be remembered for her sense of humor.

  • Memories of Mom
    Laurie Hampton
    November 28, 2008

    I remember watching Mom get ready for a Bluettes (the all-women choir she was in for awhile) performance. She was wearing her Bluettes costume – a royal blue satin 50s dress with pointy bosoms (as she would say), and black patent leather high heels. She was putting on her make up, and I thought she looked like a glamorous movie star! That was the moment I decided I wanted to wear lipstick when I grew up. I remember Mom practicing the songs “Fourteen Angels (?)” and the one about the little fiddies who fam and they fam right over the dam for the Bluettes.

    For a brief while, Mom sold make up for a company called “Beauty Counselor” that was similar to Avon. I LOVED the tiny little sample lipsticks and the easels with dozens of shades of eye shadow and rouge.

    I remember feeling utterly content while sitting on Mom’s lap sucking my thumb at the dining room table. It was a daily tradition that we had, until I was about 12, and she told me that we couldn’t continue doing it much longer (that hurt).

    I also remember that same feeling of contentment riding in the back seat with Mom and Dad up front, and being able to hear the murmur of their voices. Mom would often hang her arm and hand over the back of the seat, and sometimes I would reach out and hold it, or just study it with my eyes.

    After Dad died, and before Tom came along, it was just Mom and me living together at the house, and I remember feeling like we were a team – her and me against the world. I tried to help out by cleaning the house for her. I remember getting the house all dusted and vacuumed to surprise her when she came home from school. She used to marvel at my innate neatness and tidiness, and she once said “How did I ever get a kid like you???” We ate a lot of chicken noodle soup and chicken pot pies during that period.

  • Amanda Dockstader says:

    Lee Lee’s song she would sing to me:
    Let me call you sweet heart, I’m in love with you. Let me hear you whisper that you love me too, keep your love light glowing in your eyes so blue. Let me call you sweet heart, I’m in love with you.
    Lee was one of my favorite residents in wild flower. When I worked the night shifts I would lay with her and talk to her and sing. She would be up most of the night so I kept her company and always made her a sandwich and coffee (really was tea). I miss lee so much and always will. I remember when I first met her I was working in dietary in the Raineer Dining room and she was with ev, she was so snappy, but funny. Then I got to know her more when I worked at the corwin center desk, she would always ask me to call melrose and the numbers (i dont remember them now). I started working as a NAC in the memory support unit. We loved her over there she always added fun and sometimes frustration but without her it seems so empty and quiet. She was always a blast and was very cute without her teeth in, she would let me clean them at night and would forget about them for an hour so I thought she was so cute without them. She was also a fun dancer and always shakin her hips. She will always be loved and missed.

  • Dina Blade says:

    What an absolutely lovely tribute to one woman’s life. Thank you for putting it together. I enjoyed reading all of it. My heartfelt condolences to the family. Sincerely, Dina Blade

  • Rebecca Guillemette says:

    What a great, well done, and heart felt tribute to your Mom. Thank you for sharing. My sincere condolences to the family. Love Rebecca Guillemette

  • James R Burton says:

    I miss the rides with Lee. She was always a pleasure to be with, so fun and such a great comedic wit. When Lee was on my schedule to drive It made my day!

  • Kris Johnson says:

    What a full life Lee had, I only know of her life here at Emerald Heights and the family she talked of. I liked her sense of humor, she reminded me so much of my own mom. Reading about Lee’s life, I wonder if back in the day, the two of them may have met. She seemed to be one who was always taking care of or watching out for others. Remembering back several years when her and Ev were an item in Assisted Living, her ordering their coffees and desserts. She will always be remembered.

  • Nancy Penrose says:

    To Laurie and all the rest of the family–

    What a lovely tribute to your mother. I love looking at the family photos and seeing glimmers of your features, Laurie, in the photos of your Mom in her young and glamorous days. My own mother died with Alzheimers, so I know the pain of a loved one’s last years with this cruel disease. You have honored the best in her with what you have put together in this pages.

  • Nicole Pilgrim, MSW says:

    This site is a beautiful tribute to wonderful lady and her abounding story. I will not forget how she would sway in true adoration while listening to Frank Sinatra holding her cup of coffee or tea. Her eyes were always full of expression and she had an uncanny ability to make me laugh with her quick wit. Lee was one of the top 10 reasons I loved to be at Emerald Heights. My thoughts are with Lee’s family.

  • Lindsay Rowlands says:

    Kylie (age 5) and Ashlyn (age 3) were very lucky to get to know their Great Grandma over the last several years. Both girls visited Great Grandma several times at Emerald Heights on “Grammy Day” (their weekly day spent with Grammy (Leanne). These visits usually invloved having lunch with Great Grandma.
    During the Celebration of Life that we had for Grandma earlier this month, Kylie told me (Auntie) that she couldn’t share her memories of Great Grandma with the group because she was just “a little girl.” She asked that I share them for her. Kylie told me that she remembered having many lunches with Great Grandma and that Great Grandma often said silly things at the lunch table…even talking “potty talk” at the table!
    I think that both Kylie and Ashlyn really enjoyed the short time that they had with Great Grandma and I am so glad that they were lucky enough to get to have a relationship with her. It makes me sad that my future children won’t get to know her. But at least I know that Kylie and Ashlyn have memories that they can share with my kids some day!
    Just after Grandma died, Kylie and I talked a lot about how Great Grandma would still be here through the memories that we all have of her and how important it is that we never stop talking about those memories!
    I love you and miss you Grandma!!

  • Keri Dockstader says:

    It’s now March and even now I think about Lee from time to time. It’s been so quite here at Emerald Heights. I miss the music I used to listen to with her and her sarcastic humor. She was always a pleasure to have around and so much fun no matter what she we were doing. I don’t think I could ever compare her to any other resident as she was so unique. The staff here still talks about her all the time and we all miss her dearly. I miss her true honesty-which is hard to find anymore!

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