Helen Suzanne Hawley


image of Helen Hawley

Helen Hawley

Helen Suzanne Hawley (née Smith) passed away peacefully in Shoreline, Washington, surrounded by love, on November 6, 2022.  She was born on June 17, 1932 in Everett, Washington.  She grew up during the Depression and World War II, without much money but in a close and loving family with parents Phil and Doris, brother Con and sister Jan.  She made many life-long friends at Roosevelt High School (class of 1950) and Stanford University (class of 1954).  After college she spent several years traveling around Europe and living in New York City, San Francisco, and San Diego, where she met her first husband, Oliver Holmes King.  The Sixties brought her back to Seattle, where she had two daughters, Suzanne and Jana, and began a 30-year career as a legal secretary with Charles Mullavey in Ballard.

Helen married Dwight S. Hawley Jr. (Bud) in 1968 and welcomed two stepdaughters, Sue and Terri, into her life.  Their son Sam was born in 1970.  Her large family was the center of her life for the next 50 years, much of which was spent at the beach cabin on Dabob Bay, where her hospitality was legend and everyone was greeted with a big smile and “Welcome to Paradise”! The grandchildren spent many memorable summers at Dabob with Gma and Gpa.  Helen and Dwight had a wonderful, joyful 48-year marriage marked by laughter, games, family, and love.

After retirement, Helen traveled extensively, across the US in a motorhome with Dwight, and visited all seven continents.  She made friends wherever she went, including her Kenyan family, Jane, Thad, Mark, and Marie.  Helen loved music and was a season ticket holder for 50 years of the Seattle Symphony, Opera, and Ballet.  She took up birding later in life, became a master birder in 1995, and was an Audubon Society volunteer for more than 20 years.

Helen was a bright, shining light in our lives.  She was fierce, intelligent, independent, and resourceful, and instilled these qualities in her children and grandchildren.  Helen loved nature and was the original reduce, reuse, and recycler, striving to live lightly on the Earth.  She was also a singular character, with a unique wit and many quirky expressions that exemplified her zest for life.  Her eternally positive and optimistic outlook allowed her to look at a gray cloudy winter sky in Seattle, find the one tiny patch of blue, and declare “I think it is about to clear up”!  Even in her last years, her caregivers commented on her beautiful smile and her graceful manner.  Mother loved us unconditionally, and we will miss her dearly.  Her indomitable spirit will live on in our hearts forever.

Helen is survived by her sister Jan; children Suzanne (Jim), Jana (Liz), Sam (Wendi), Sue (Rick), and Terri (Peter); grandchildren Roger (Angela), Eric (Renae), Rosa (Kyle), Natt, Tom, Annie, Zeke; great-grandchild Mikiah (Curtis), and many nieces and nephews.  She was pre-deceased by her beloved husband Dwight, and grandson Jake.

A private family memorial will be held in December.

We would love to hear your memories of Helen in the comments section below.

Donations in Helen’s honor may be made to the Seattle Audubon Society at:


or to a charity of your choice.

7 Responses to “Helen Suzanne Hawley”

  • Nancy Clark says:

    What a beautifully written tribute to a wonderful music and bird lover. I enjoyed her presence at our Shoreline band concerts, and most especially appreciated having her as part of the fan and family entourage at our concerts in Victoria, B.C.

  • Phyllis Haight Grummon says:

    Our family was welcomed warmly for many years by Helen and Dwight at the beach cabin. We were lucky to have spent time with Helen, visiting museums and enjoying meals. She was an amazing woman in so many ways.


    I’ll always remember Helen for her beautiful spirit and her positivity. I only got to know her in her last years of life visiting her as a caregiver. Even with her advanced age and declining abilities she always managed to smile and share stories with me about her life. She was a wonderful example of how to accept aging with grace, joy and dignity. Seeing the devotion from her family and friends showed me how much she was loved. I’m so glad I got to be a part of Helen’s life and to share in this.

  • Emily Kane says:

    It was always a pleasure to see Helen. Although I didn’t know well I did enjoy her company whenever saw her. As a friend of her daughter, I have great respect for her loving ways and skills of motherhood – the most important job ever.

  • Kathy Stephenson says:

    Helen was a faithful friend to my mom, Theo Heinz, for nearly 75 years. They enjoyed their Friday lunches, Village Theatre productions, Seattle Symphony performances, European vacations, their annual train trips to Portland to visit Ruthie, long weekends at Dabob, playing Bridge, snow-skiing on Thursdays with their ski bus friends, and so many other lifelong adventures. What a blessing Helen has been to our entire family. She was a bright light to those who had the privilege of knowing her.

  • Alison Wysong says:

    I enjoyed volunteering with Helen at Seattle Audubon’s Nature Shop, and listening to her tales of adventures at Dabob Bay. I wish you all the best.

  • Shirley K Krans says:

    Helen’s obituary stated she is survived by a sister Jan. I’m try to find Jan. Does anyone know of her where abouts? – Shirley

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