Jeanne Hillesland

Obituary of Jeanne Lenora Hillesland

Jeanne Lenora Hillesland, 90 years old, was born on January 12, 1932, to C. Edgar and Lenora (Thompson) Hull of McKenna, Washington. Jeanne grew up in McKenna, where she lived with her parents and her brother Glenn. She graduated from Yelm High School in 1950.


She first met her future husband, Harold, while sledding with the neighborhood kids, even before he’d moved to town. He made a great first impression! Harold later moved to McKenna and he and Jeanne became high school sweethearts. He proposed by slipping a ring on her finger at a drive-in movie, and they married in July of 1954. They remained married for 59 years, through a move to California and a retirement move back to Washington, until his death in February of 2014. Together they raised six children.


Prior to her marriage, Jeanne worked in a florist shop and even arranged the flowers for her own wedding. She loved nature and was an early advocate for environmentalism. She promoted the establishment of Earth Day and volunteered her children to work beside her at the community recycling center long before curbside recycling. She knew the names of many birds, flowers, trees, and animals and enjoyed teaching her children to identify California poppies, Indian paintbrush, and other wildflowers while walking in the wilderness. In later years, she enjoyed watching goldfinches and bluebirds on her property, as well as deer, rabbits, elk, coyotes, cougars, and even a bear! In recent phone conversations, she excitedly described a pair of coyote pups playing on her deck, a cougar by her garage, or swallows nesting in her birdhouse.


During winter, she dreamed of planting new lettuce varieties in her garden, and in the spring she prepared the soil for the growing season. She diligently grew plants from seeds, including some tomato starts currently growing on her windowsill in a repurposed milk carton. She was an avid composter, organic gardener and orchardist of apples and pears.


Jeanne was also a wonderful baker, especially happy to make pies from apples and blackberries that grew on her property. In California, she made money to buy Harold special Christmas gifts by baking and selling Christmas cookies. She made spritz, gingerbread men, beliner kranser, pepperkaker, and dozens and dozens of sugar cookies in festive and colorful shapes. In addition to the many buyers of her holiday cookies, she baked many more for friends, neighbors, and family.


She always saw the bright side of life, even in gloomy times. Her family and friends will greatly miss her good spirits, fascination with the world, and joy in life.


Jeanne passed away May 5, 2022.  She is survived by three sons, Eric Hillesland (Elaine) of Mendocino, California, Arne Hillesland of San Francisco, California, and Keith Hillesland (Richard Taylan) of Newark, California; three daughters, Janet Hicks (Ross) of Almo, Kentucky, Bonnie Hopkins of McKenna, Washington, and Ann Hillesland (Russ Wyllie) of Paso Robles, California; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Jeanne was preceded in death by her husband, Harold Hillesland; her son-in-law, William Hopkins; her parents, Edgar and Lenora Hull; and her brother, Glenn Hull.

Memorial donations may be made to Bethany Lutheran Church in Spanaway, Washington, by clicking HERE, or the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America by clicking HERE



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