Grace E. Wilson Hughes died October 11, 2016 in Tonasket, Washington after a long and full life.
Born February 11, 1938 in Ellensburg, Washington to Joseph and Edith Wilson, Grace grew up on a ranch in Badger Pocket, some summers working at her family’s Outlook/Sunnyside farm. She attended Kittitas schools through her sophomore year, and later commuted to Ellensburg High School, from which she graduated, to take advantage of the various choices including art classes and photography. Her school yearbook, Klahiam, offered challenges while she was the photography editor, and that spark, being enthralled and involved with photo opportunities, carried on through her entire life. Grace was a founding member of the Kittitas County Wranglerettes, a girls’ equine drill team that was created to promote the Ellensburg Rodeo. She earned her BA in Education from Central Washington University in 1962. After being a student counselor from CWU for Omak’s Camp Disautel, she chose to join the Oroville School District in the northern end of the Okanogan Valley. She retired in 1993 after 31 years of teaching.
Throughout her life, her educational involvement included being both a teacher and a student; she loved and actively pursued both. Grace had a National Education Association lifetime membership and belonged to the Okanogan County Retired Teachers. Grace taught the talented/gifted program in the Oroville Elementary School as well as regular 4th grade classes. She was a member of the American Association of University Women and Delta Kappa Gamma. After retirement, Grace volunteered in the classroom of Pat Smith for 17 years at the Oroville Elementary School. For many years, Grace volunteered as a tutor for adults in the Okanogan County Literacy Council.
Grace was a great lover of art. Stained glass instruction gave her an outlet to create beautiful stained glass windows for her Oroville home. She also studied jewelry arts, utilizing petrified wood she had collected from her Ellensburg ranch to make wearable pieces. A longtime, active member of the Summerland Camera Club, she participated in monthly competitions, presenting slide shows to groups, and embarking on numerous field trips throughout the region. She attended conferences as a member of the Canadian Association of Photographic Arts. Grace loved to travel, and after each trip, domestic or foreign, she would present her class with a slide show and share items from the environs and country represented. Several of Grace’s photographic entries in the “Farm Bureau” publication were winners. Grace was also keenly aware of women artists, and belonged to the Women in Arts Museum to encourage women in the fine arts field.
With her signature enthusiasm, Grace volunteered her time throughout the local community: at the Oroville Community Library she served 10 years as the Board President, guiding fundraising activities to remodel the library that should occur in 2016; she was also a lifetime member of the Oroville Friends of the Library, active in their fundraising for the pending remodel project. Grace provided annual support to the Oroville Streetscape group; and she donated monthly to the Okanogan Support Center. Grace was a member of the Oroville Grange and Royal Neighbors; she served on the Wenatchee Valley College at Omak Foundation Board, and was a member of the Washington Farm Bureau.
Grace’s creativity and accomplishment were also evident through her love of culinary arts. Winning local contests prompted her to enter a national “Taste of Home” cheesecake division where she was the only winner from Washington. She specifically loved cooking where there was room for innovation and creative approaches.
Grace was up to life’s challenges and opportunities, and made sure she lived life fully. Comfortable at home and abroad, she had fun fishing the world’s lakes, rivers, and oceans. Until 2005, she was active in her small home apple orchard near Oroville, doing many of the seasonal jobs that it entailed. Gardening afforded her the opportunity to be outside to grow fruits and vegetables for her family, as well as the brilliant splashes of annual and perennial flowers that her Oroville neighbors will miss.
Grace loved history and family genealogy. Guided by sisters, Ruth and Edna, Grace became a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists and the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. In a class “Fur Trappers in the Pacific Northwest,” Grace traveled to key locales in the early history of Eastern Washington, and then prepared lessons in Pacific Northwest History for her fourth graders. Her great knowledge of local history was further enriched by membership in the Okanogan Historical Society and the Borderlands Historical Society.
Grace’s two children, Troylyn and Kurt, and husband Lloyd were always first on her list of importance. Together, they shared experiences that were truly her life’s main focus and source of enjoyment. She cherished each moment they spent as a family. Short drives into the Okanogan Highlands were enthusiastically ranked as just as rewarding as a lengthy trip through the Panama Canal or island-hopping in the Caribbean. Being together was always the common bond. The family welcomed others, too, opening up their home to different foreign exchange students over the years.
Grace is survived by sisters Ruth Shaff and Brenda O’Neil; daughter Troylyn D. (Ken) Goldsberry ; son Kurt Wyatt; granddaughter Tambra Shean; great-grandson Avery; stepchildren Glen (Kathy) Hughes, Debbie (Steve) Dunham, Karen (Jeff) Dean, and Jack (Mary) Hughes.
Preceding Grace in death were her parents Joseph and Edith Wilson; brothers Melville, Darus, and Morris Wilson; sister Edna Thorleifson; and husband Lloyd J. Hughes.
A Celebration of Grace’s life will be held at the Oroville Grange on April 22, 2017 at noon, followed by a catered luncheon. Afterwards, a public graveside service will take place at the Molson Cemetery. Celebrant Kate Wallace Johnson will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances can be made to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.