Ruth “Alice” Hiatt

Ruth Alice HIATT

Ruth Alice Van Hook was born in Ogden Township, Illinois on March 20th, 1926 to Robert and Hettie Van Hook. Her birthplace was a two-room log house with dirt floors and no indoor plumbing. She had an older sister, Frances, and later two brothers, Dean and Dale. The rats were so bad in this little cabin that they hung their few clothes up high so the rats would not carry them off at night.

Her dad was a farmer that worked the land for other farmers. When she was about five, he rented a four-room farmhouse where they had sheep, ducks, chickens, a cow and two horses or mules. They ate mostly what they grew on the farm. The kids were given a lamb as a pet which they named Betsy and she became a real playmate that even joined them in hide and seek.

Her mom and dad did not attend church regularly in Ruth’s early years but believed in God. Several times God miraculously healed her mother from deathly illnesses and protected her when she was struck by lightning. Ruth also told the story how a plague of grasshoppers was destroying everything in the fields but stopped at their fence when her Dad prayed.

Their family of six had few worldly goods, but from these humble beginnings, Ruth learned several valuable lessons that shaped her life:

 You don’t need things to make you happy; it is people that matter.

 You work hard and make life work with what you have

 There is a real satisfaction found in working the ground to grow things

 Have a simple and strong trust in God

A classmate in her one-room schoolhouse starting calling Ruth by her middle name, Alice, and it stuck. At age 15 Alice starting working outside the home. The first summer she worked for $8 a week, saved $20, and bought three skirts and four blouses. She continued to work in nearby towns doing whatever was needed to live, including sharing an apartment with a girl she never met who used the bed during the day while she slept in it at night. One of her strenuous full-time factory jobs was moving heavy ingots all day in an aluminum plant in Lafayette, Indiana during World War II.

It was in Lafayette that Alice met Mel at a Nazarene church Sunday School where he was her teacher. He was attending Purdue University’s College of Engineering as part of his Navy service. They dated during his time there and Mel became seriously interested. Shortly after returning to the Puyallup, Washington area for his first job at Boeing, he asked Alice to marry him. She boarded a train with her few things and got married the same day she arrived, knowing only Mel at the wedding. That is faith and love in action.

While living in Puyallup, they had five sons, Dave, Steve, Paul, Ben and Dan. She was an active participant in the Puyallup Apostolic Faith Church. In 1960, they built a home on five acres north of Puyallup in Edgewood where she had room to return to her love of gardening and farm animals. By God’s grace Alice was able to cope with the chaos of raising five sons including three older crazy teenagers at once. She had amazing gifts of loving, caring, hospitality, and peacemaking, showing the grace of Jesus Christ to all in the family, neighbors and house guests.

After the three older sons all got married in one year, Mel was transferred to Cincinnati, Ohio for a year and then they moved back to Seattle in 1972. During the move back, Mel, Alice, Ben and Dan had a three-month travel adventure touring across the U.S. and Canada in a 1967 Ford station wagon with the blue metal boat on top and towing a small travel trailer. A lot of great memories were formed on this trip.

After arriving back in Seattle, they purchased their house in Kenmore where she lived the rest of her life. She spent many hours helping to remodel the house, including building her own kitchen cabinets. She repurposed, recycled, and refinished furniture before it was cool to do so. She turned her back lot into a bountiful garden complete with chickens. She built dollhouses and toys and even a play house for the grandkids. She was an accomplished seamstress, sewing many things for herself and her family.

Alice’s cooking was legendary and you knew you were going to eat well at the Hiatt’s, which typically included something from the garden and a signature desert like her flat apple pie. Most importantly, she took time for relationships with people. She lived a life of service and faith in Jesus Christ as a caring, loving wife, mother, grandmother, neighbor and friend. She was “Jesus with skin on.”

Alice’s health was not the best for many years, but she persevered by her will to continue to do the things that she wanted to do even if it took more strength than she had. As long as her health allowed it, Alice continued to be active in the Apostolic Faith Church in Seattle.

In April of 2012 Mel passed away, and her second youngest son Ben moved in with her to help Alice stay in her house for the rest of her days. He revived the garden that she was no longer able to care for.

On her 90th birthday in 2016, as a tribute to her longstanding citizenship in Kenmore, the mayor of Kenmore came to the house, presented her a plaque, and declared her 90th birthday to be Alice Hiatt Day.

Alice’s health continued to gradually decline, culminating in a serious infection in December 2016, and then a stroke in January 2017. She went peacefully to her heavenly reward on Wednesday night, March 1st, 2017, three weeks before her 91st birthday.

Ruth Alice Hiatt was preceded in death by her husband Mel, her older sister Frances, her younger brothers Dean and Dale, and her grandson Ben. She is survived by five sons, four daughters-in-law and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren as well as two great-great-grandsons.

Ruth Alice was the best wife, mom, grandma and friend you could ever know and a true Proverbs 31 woman. She loved greatly, was greatly loved, and will be greatly missed.

 

8 Comments

  1. Dan Hiatt (youngest son)
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Thank you mom for being the best mom ever. We sure had a lot of great memories together. It is awesome to be able to say goodbye with no regrets. So glad the pain and suffering are over and you are in the presence of Jesus. See you soon!
    Dan (youngest son)

  2. Heidi Hiatt
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    Grandma, what a life you had. You survived the Depression, several wars, five boys, us wildly creative grandkids, and a family of Type As.

    What a life you gave us– we had such fun and such rich cultural experiences growing up because of your level of involvement in our lives. You passed your work ethic on to each one of your grandchildren. You taught us to build, bake, be frugal, have fun, and to grow things.

    This is a temporary goodbye. We’ll see you again. You’ll be missed in the meantime, but I know you’re with Grandpa and a whole army of people who were waiting to welcome you. What a party you must be having.

    Thank you for being more than a grandmother to me. You were also my friend. I know that at times you questioned my choices, but I also know that you understand now. What we risk reveals what we value. What we do in this life echoes in eternity. And we will make you proud.

  3. Ron & Elisabet Hiatt
    Posted March 10, 2017 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Aunt Alice was a lovely lady and she will be missed. Our loss, Heaven’s gain. Our love to the family. Ron & Elisabet

  4. Deb (VanHook) Park
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    What a wonderful tribute to Aunt Alice. She was a wonderful lady.. I still make her flat apple pie!!!! Thank you for sharing all these previous details of her life’s story.

    Deb

  5. Deanna Kinnari
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    Although Alice and I are not blood related, I felt that I was one of the “people that mattered” to both her and Mel. I felt her love throughout my childhood, my teen years and as also as an adult. We attended the Apostolic Faith Church in Seattle together and I was blessed to know, admire and respect Alice. As part of the family of God my dear sister in the Lord was, for me, a role model and a Godly example of what it meant to give unconditional empathy and care to those in need.

    Invitations to her home were a treat and that both my husband Keijo and I enjoyed before and after we married. Alices’ tasty meals often included fresh fruits and vegetables from her garden and the food was seasoned with lively conversation. Her intelligence, hard work ethic and love for Jesus permeated every visit. Even towards the end of her life when she was suffering and in pain I left her home having been served something good to eat and felt uplifted in spirit from our visit. My heart is filled with thankfulness for many good memories I have of Alice whose love and kindness has positively impacted my life.

  6. Linda M.
    Posted March 11, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    Alice was one of my heroes. She was a precious soul.

  7. Posted March 11, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    I met Alice when I moved to Seattle and I lived in their home for a short time. She reminded me of my grandmother who I loved dearly. Alice was ambitious, creative and a great teacher. She had many interesting stories to tell that were fascinating and inspiring. she always had a contagious smile and kind word to say to me.
    She will be greatly missed.

  8. Barbara Bishop
    Posted March 13, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I loved going to their house. My fondest memory was when our family went to Niagara Falls with Mel and Alice and standing under the falls. She cared very much about people and always took time to find out what was happening in my life whenever I saw her. She was a treasure that will greatly be missed and heaven has received another angel.

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