Our hearts are heavy with the loss of long-time Lynden resident, Mary Ellen Hill Roebuck. Mary was born July 19, 1952 in Port Angeles, WA, and was the third born of five siblings. Mary was named after her own mother, Mary Ellen Hill, and was fondly called “Ditto” by family and close friends throughout her lifetime.
After a nine-and-a-half year battle with ovarian cancer, Mary died on January 19, 2023 in Bellingham, WA from complications of cancer and chemotherapy. She carried on the most valiant and brave fight to survive, spanning almost 10 years. Her initial diagnosis in 2013 indicated she would be lucky to live another five years. Being determined, optimistic (and perhaps a bit stubborn) Mary defied the odds and lived nearly twice as long as the most hopeful prognosis.
Mary earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Western Washington University (State College in those days). She furthered her education by earning a Master’s Degree from University of Portland while working full time and raising her two daughters with her then-husband Randy. While in graduate school she also coordinated remote learning for University of Portland Master’s in Teaching students in Washington and British Columbia. Mary was a long-time educator in the Lynden School District. In 2012 she was named the Lynden School District’s Teacher of the year. Her career spanned over 40 years of teaching, including several years of coaching student teams in extracurricular activities including “Odyssey of the Mind” and later “Destination Imagination” where she led teams of students to the World competition in Tennessee multiple times. In 2006, her team of elementary students won the World Championships. In her classroom she taught countless children, including second and third generation students, and touched the hearts of many more than those who were fortunate to have her as their third grade teacher. She also worked with many student teachers from Western Washington University, sharing her expertise and passion for teaching.
Mary was the kind of person who could befriend anyone, and often in no time at all. She had a way of charming those around her; if you knew her you loved her. And if you just met her, you were about to fall in love. Some of her closest friendships formed with those who cared for Mary through her several years of living with cancer, including the incredible staff at the Bellingham Cancer Center and the University of Washington medical center. Mary had a wonderful, quick, wicked sense of humor, and shared it freely, along with her gorgeous, bright smile. Mary was also generous to a fault, going out of her way to help anyone she could, in any way she could. Her many gifts of time, attention, talent, and love are already deeply missed.
Mary loved gardening, crochet, felting, and sewing. She frequently gifted people with her beautiful handwork. She also loved reading and musical theater, and shared those loves with her daughters, generously bringing them to live professional performances of shows including The Phantom of the Opera, Cats, Les Miserables, and perhaps her favorite, Wicked. Mary also loved being near the water - especially the ocean - and enjoyed summer concerts at Boulevard Park in Bellingham. In more recent years one of Mary’s favorite annual activities was volunteering at the Democratic party booth at the Northwest Washington Fair with her dear friend Kay Price. Above all she loved being with her family and friends.
Mary is survived by four siblings in Port Angeles: George Hill, Hester Hill, Bob Hill and Tim Hill. Mary’s older sister, Hester, along with Mary’s two daughters, Elise and Vanessa, supported, loved, and cared for Mary through her illness.
Mary is survived by her two daughters , Elise Roebuck in Lynden and Vanessa Bronsema in Bellingham and their partners Ives Sturtz and Max Bronsema. She is also survived by four grandchildren, Brennan Roebuck, Deven Roebuck-Brand, and Kellen and Griffey Bronsema, as well as two “bonus” grandchildren David and Autumn Sturtz. Mary has two great granddaughters, Jocelyn and Blair Roebuck. Also left to mourn her passing is her dear friend, Randy Roebuck, and her sweetheart Harry Bowen, among countless others who considered her family.
A Celebration of Life for Mary will be held at Lynden Middle School at 11:00 am on Saturday, February 25, 2023 with light refreshments. Guests are invited to wear the color teal - Mary’s favorite color, and also the color of the ovarian cancer ribbon.
The family invites donations in Mary’s honor to the Bellingham Cancer Center Patient Experience Fund.