Avette Block

Obituary of Avette Ann (O'Neill) Block

Avette Ann “Betsy” (O'Neill) Block of Tumwater, Washington, passed away on March 12, 2024, at the age of 76.  Avette, also known as Betsy to many, was born on September 6, 1947, daughter to Eugene and Edna (Miller) O’Neill in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. She was a graduate of Loretto Central High School, where she met her friend of 58 years, Mary Kate Colton. She married Coast Guard CWO Dallas Paul Block in 1968 and enjoyed moving with his career opportunities to eight states along the East Coast and Hawaii twice before settling in the Yelm, Washington, area of the Pacific Northwest in 1989, where she built lifelong friendships with ease.


First working for local Yelm businesses, Avette eventually became best known as Operations Manager at First Community/Venture/First Citizens Bank, where she worked for over 20 years. It was there that she met her dear friends, nicknamed “The Bright Spots,” and made many wonderful memories.  Betsy was a local character and always played an active part in her community.

Before the pandemic, Avette became a loyal volunteer and advocate for the non-profit group, National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI.


Avette had a lifelong love of the beach and to be wherever there was water, whether swimming or sailing. She enjoyed reading books and playing cards, doing her daily jumble puzzle, and cherished her weekend “coffee chat” phone calls with her sisters. She knitted beautiful Afghan blankets and could make just about anything on her sewing machine (not without cussing like a sailor to get the job done). She disliked cooking, loved eating out, and was known for making the BEST Chex Mix, baked beans, and deviled eggs. She enjoyed a good martini or margarita. Her motto was “What’s money but if not to spend it!”


Avette is survived and will be greatly missed by her two daughters, Allison (David Kawika) Barnett of Oahu, Hawaii, and Natalie (David) Fillippone of Tumwater, Washington;  siblings, James O’Neill (Joni Huyser) of Zeeland, Michigan, Mary (Christopher) Hayes of Mesa, Arizona, Kelly (Steve) Pietrangelo of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Michael (Sue) O’Neill of Apopka, Florida, and Kara (Mike) Snopek of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; and five grandchildren, Skylar and Landen  (who fondly remember her as “Grammy Gram-Gram”) and Madeline, Spencer and Charles (who lovingly remember her as “Mimi”).  She also is survived by many nieces and nephews!


Avette is preceded in death by her parents, Eugene and Edna O’Neill; sister, Jeanna Ver Strat; and friend/former husband, Dallas Paul Block.


An open-house style Celebration of Life for this adored lady will be held Saturday, May 18, 2024, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia Street NW, Olympia, WA 98501. Bring your best story/memory to share!


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We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Funeral Alternatives of Washington - Tumwater
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