Martha Elizabeth Harris |
Martha Elizabeth Harris, owner of Martha E. Harris Flowers & Gifts in Madison Park died on October 5, 2012 after a nine year courageous battle with mantle cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Martha, who was recently selected as the 2012 Woman of Influence by the Puget Sound Business Journal was a well-known florist in the Seattle area and a constant presence at non-profit auctions and events over the past 30 years. She worked tirelessly on those events to make sure that the beauty of her floral creations complimented the important work of the organizations and families she represented.
Ms. Harris got her floral start in her unheated garage in 1975 eventually moving to the Sandpoint neighborhood, then to University Village and finally settling in Madison Park where she has worked since March of 1998. As evidenced by the hundreds of friends who gathered on August 23, 2012 for a luncheon in support of the Martha E. Harris Fund for cancer research and Swedish Hospital, raising $200,000, Ms. Harris touched the lives of thousands in the Puget Sound area. During the early days of supporting PONCHO and through her constant presence at the Woodland Park Zoo community, the Seattle Children's Hospital Fund, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Swedish Hospital, and countless others, Martha's bright blue eyes and floral artistry were always present. Her private work included weddings and other family occasions in the Seattle area. She was often called upon to travel to distant locations to bring beauty and organization to events.
Having cancer encouraged her to develop previously unchartered abilities with painting, the piano and her own personal garden, giving her inspiration and joy.
Ms. Harris was born in Seattle at Swedish Hospital to Betty and Elmer ("Pinky") Harris. She attended Seattle public schools and spent her college years at WSU and the University of Washington. She graduated from UW with a degree in sociology. She married William Exley in 1997.
Ms. Harris was fortunate enough to have traveled the world with her friends and family. She climbed Mt. Rainier for her 40th birthday, climbed the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru, and cycled from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi which was the last great adventure during her battle with cancer.
Martha's many friends included her Swedish friends, childhood friends, Poncho friends, store friends, restaurant friends and all who had the privilege of meeting her.
She is survived by her mother Betty Harris, her brother Leif Harris, her beloved rescue dog, Gracie, four step children, Deborrah Henry, Diane Coit, Brooke Exley, and Bill Exley and five step granddaughters, Ashley Henry, Cara Henry, Julia Coit, Lindsey Coit, and Calista Labolle, one great step-granddaughter Taylor Lane, and her many friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Martha E. Harris Fund at Swedish Hospital, or to fund a permanent memorial installation in remembrance of Martha. Checks for the installation may be made out to The Friends of Martha Memorial Fund and mailed to her store, 4218 East Madison, Seattle, 98112.
Her memorial service will be held October 12, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. in the Seattle Children's Theater With a reception to follow.
Published in The Seattle Times from Oct. 6 to Oct. 8, 2012