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Mary Griggs (Mollie) Hungate

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Mary Griggs (Mollie) Hungate Obituary
Mary (Mollie) Griggs Hungate

Mary ("Mollie") Hungate, born Mary Virginia Griggs, died on December 5 at her home in Seattle, surrounded by family, at the age of 94. She lived both a long and wonderful life. Born in Beatrice, Nebraska in August of 1919 to Kirk and Mabel Griggs, she was the youngest in a family of three brothers and a sister. They lived successively in Omaha and then Lincoln. Her father was a banker and Secretary of the Treasury for the State of Nebraska during the Great Depression. The family suffered from dust pneumonia which forced Kirk to retire and take the family south into Mexico, finally settling in Houston, Texas. Following high school, in 1937 Mollie entered the Plan 2 Program at the University of Texas, where she graduated summa cum laude and met Frank Hungate, the love of her life. They married in 1941 and she joined him in graduate studies in genetics at Stanford University under Dr. George Beadle, a later Nobel Prize Winner. In addition to working in the genetics research labs and having their first child, Mollie also taught chemistry to women preparing to fill in for men away in the military during WWII. After finishing graduate studies in 1946, the family moved to Portland, Oregon where Mollie taught 5th grade at Catlin Hillside School and had their second child. In 1952, Frank was offered a job at Hanford and the family moved to Richland, Washington, where they lived in government housing until 1955 when they built a house on 2 acres in Kennewick. They lived in that house for 38 years, raising 4 children and establishing a loving home. Teaching continued to be a major interest for Mollie. At Columbia Basin Community College, she primarily taught humanities classes although she also taught comparative religion, black studies, and science fiction literature. Many weeks in summer were spent at a family log cabin on Priest Lake in northern Idaho. In 1982, a vacation house was built on property at the lake. After retiring in 1994, Mollie and Frank moved from the Tri-Cities to Seattle. They became part of a multi-generational household, spending winters with their daughter's family and summers at Priest Lake. Frank and Mollie were avid travelers, exploring almost every corner of the world during their more than 72 years of marriage. She led trips to Greece, Australia, and China and both of them appreciated the wide variety of cultures and customs in the countries they visited, creating memories to share with family and friends upon return from their adventures. Throughout her life, Mollie maintained many active interests, not only in family but in a wide range of ideas related to the arts, literature, music, and culture. She was a gracious and loving woman, making connections and positively impacting those who knew her, whether they were students, friends, or family. She will forever live on in their hearts. She is survived by her husband of 72 years, four children Frank II (Talent, OR), Jess (Toronto, ON), Bonnie (Seattle) and Tom (Pullman, WA), ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life will be held in the spring. Donations may be made in her memory to the arts organization of your choice.
Published in The Seattle Times on Dec. 15, 2013
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