It's not how long we've held each other's hands, What matters is how sweet the years together. It's not how many summer times We've had to give to fall, The early morning smiles we cheerfully recall, What matters most is that we loved at all." Camilla Lee has died. She died the way she lived her life, with style, grace and dignity. Her death ends a long, brave struggle with Multiple Sclerosis that finally confined her to nursing home care. Camilla was gifted with a sweetness, a joy for life, a genuine sense of humor and a compassionate nature that drew others to her. And now we, her survivors, are left with the legacy of those gifts, the legacy of her memory that we hold in our hearts. Camilla was born on January 25, 1930 in Colville Washington to Ferrand and Virginia Sutherland. Her parents moved to Anacortes, Washington where Camilla attended both grammar and high school. She went on to study at the University of Washington where she affiliated with the Delta Gamma sorority. Camilla is predeceased by her loving daughter Kathleen Ann Geist and is survived by her loving family: her husband John (Jack) Lee, sons Jack F. Lee, and his wife Sue, Mark J. Lee, and his wife Terri, her brother Robert G. Sutherland, his wife Connie, and grandsons Brandon Wallace Lee, Mitchell Wallace Lee, Tolli Lowell Forker and her son in law David Geist. In 1950, while home from school for a weekend, Camilla attended a dance with some friends. During the evening she noticed a young man and was impressed with how well he danced. When the music stopped she placed herself within close proximity of him in the hopes he would ask her to dance; he did ask her to dance and that dance ultimately lasted for 62 magical years. During their years of marriage Camilla and her family spent three years in Anchorage, on to Spokane for eight years and finally an extended period of time living in Bellevue before retiring in Bellingham. Camilla was a stay-at-home mom during all the years of child-raising. When her youngest child entered college she returned to her own studies at Bellevue Community College. Upon graduation she was appointed Director of what was then called "The High School Completion Program" where former high school dropouts could earn a diploma. Camilla ultimately assisted in the development of all the necessary Washington State requirements for the course now known as "Running Start." This program is now provided in most Community Colleges in Washington State. Camilla spent her three final years in the loving care of the staff of the Alderwood Convalescent Center and we, her family, are deeply grateful for the love, affection and genuine compassion she received while there. At Camilla's request there will be a small family celebration held in June. In lieu of donations or gifts, please take an occasional moment to hold Camilla in your heart. "Oh, have you seen my dear companion? For she was all this world to me."
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Published in Bellingham Herald from May 24 to June 22, 2014