MHB (Marilyn) Conant
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MHB (Marilyn) Conant

MHB Conant was born Marilyn Hurley on June 11, 1942 on Capitol Hill in Seattle. One of three siblings, her family circumstances were difficult, and the three children were raised by foster parents on a small farm by Haller Lake. She attended Lincoln high school where she was recognized as a student of great promise by her principal. With his encouragement, she received a full scholarship to Lake Forest College in Chicago. There she met the first love of her life - Leroy "Orrie" Bimstein. They married and moved to Boston and Oxford for Orrie's post-graduate studies. Sadly, Orrie passed away early in the marriage. After this she taught in Laurelhurst Elementary. In her grief, she moved to Ireland and taught in a small private Jesuit boys' school - Gonzaga College - for seven years where she is still lovingly remembered. Moving back to Seattle she taught at the Bush school and Seattle University.

She founded an innovative not-for-profit called "The Institute for Motivating Reading", whose goal was to increase literacy through the "Word Market" - derived from the book The Phantom Tollbooth.

She met her beloved second husband Michael Conant in 1990 and they were happily married until Michael's death in 2018.

Blessed with an angelic singing voice, she was deeply involved with the choir at St. Joseph's church on Capitol Hill and also sang at many funerals through her business "Singing them on their way".

Predeceased by her beloved brother JD, she is survived by her sister Jean and was a loving aunt to her three nephews, Bruce, Doug and Cameron and their children.

In all respects, MHB was a remarkable woman who positively impacted countless lives. She loved fiercely and deeply, and there wasn't anything she would not do for those she loved. She saw the best in others, and inspired others to see the best in themselves. She was a humanist and an activist who gave constantly of herself. A fearless advocate for her chosen ones and causes, she always knew exactly what needed to be done and never hesitated in making sure it was. The circles of her influence are too many to list and her passing leaves a void that cannot be filled. To be on this earth with her was a great privilege.

Her family and friends adored her, and while stunned by her loss, will be joyously celebrating her life.

Her funeral will be at

St. Joseph's Church, Capitol Hill

on the 26th at 5pm. A vigil will also be held there at 6:00pm on

Thursday the 25th. Sign MHB's Guest Book:

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Seattle Times from Jul. 22 to Jul. 23, 2019.
06:00 PM
St. Joseph's Church
05:00 PM
St. Joseph's Church
Memories & Condolences
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34 entries
April 11, 2020
I lost touch with MHB over the last decade and only learned of her passing today! She was a wonderful human and I will never forget the impact she had on me during our time in the St. Joseph Choir when I was in middle school and high school playing the violin with the choir.
Peter Haskins
August 11, 2019
Marilyn was the dearest of my dear ones. As my fifth grade teacher at Laurelhurst Elementary in 1968 she was the first adult who saw, respected, and loved who I am at my core; and she reminded me of this daily.

I was already a lover of reading when I arrived in her classroom. She seized on this and used it to help me expand as a learner. 5th grade was the first time I not only didn't hate school, I looked forward to the day, if not the morning. I grew up to be a musician and was a night owl even then.

We re-connected in Ireland in 1978. My college choir was touring central Europe and I headed north to see her after our final concert. She greeted me with such joy and love, and warmed my heart and spirit. We quickly became friends and that beautiful connection grew and blossomed and deepened its roots over the many years that followed.

Marilyn sang at my wedding and at my wife's memorial, and honored the passing of my mother and father in beautiful song, from the back of the soul, as well She was at every important event, in the front row, with flowers and chocolate, a radiant smile, and pure joy and pride at my triumphs and trials. She saw both as equal gifts.

My fiercest ally is gone from this plane. She has earned her angel wings and is even more of a force for good in the Universe, as difficult as that may be to imagine.

Well done Marilyn! You lived this life beautifully and well and full on! Well done and thank you!

With all my love and gratitude
Grant Dermody
Grant Dermody
July 31, 2019
A lovely picture of a lovely young Marilyn.
Phillip Bimstein
July 31, 2019
As the brother of LeRoy ("Orrie") Bimstein, I knew and loved Marilyn from way back in the 60s, when she always gave her full heart and passion to everyone, as she so evidently continued to do throughout her big life. Like all of us, I am so sad she has left us, though she will always be with us. Here's a sweet picture of her holding a monkey, with all her love, of course.
July 29, 2019
Marilyn was such a life force; I can't even express the influence she had on me. She was loving and talented and fierce. The world has lost someone very very special. I consider myself lucky to have known her.
Dale Hagen
July 29, 2019
I only met Marilyn a few times (through Grant & Eileen), but I recall that she was always very positive (esp. when it came to music!) and I so appreciated her amazing attitude which was very uplifting. She gave much to the world!
Pamela Cook
July 27, 2019
With so much loving kindness to you, I will miss her and be forever grateful to have known her.
Zoë S
July 26, 2019
Marilyn was the most extraordinary woman we know. Full of grace, love, generosity and brio, she had a particularly magical touch with children. She never forgot any of them. And vice versa. She shone her light on our 3 kids, even into adulthood, and turned the most stubborn one into, if not a reader exactly, certainly an appreciator of what books can open up.
I was lucky enough to write about The Word Market for our local newspaper and saw her gifts unfold daily.
We will miss her greatly and will try to carry on her sense of justice in her memory. Truly, there is no one like her.
Jane (& Don) Gargas
July 24, 2019
A singing toast @my wedding May 7 2019
Courtney Rickett
July 24, 2019
Marilyn Conant leading march to support the Sisters
Joan Dinkelspiel
July 24, 2019
Marilyn Conant leading march to support the Sisters
Joan Dinkelspiel
July 24, 2019
Leading a march for the sisters.
Joan Dinkelspiel
July 24, 2019
For me she was a shining light and I miss her.
Joan Dinkelspiel
July 24, 2019
Miss Bimstein, as we knew her, was an improbably exotic vision, wafting through the corridors of grey 1970s Gonzaga in her flowing, chalk-stained teacher's robes, black stockings and Birkenstocks, colourful bangles rattling on her wrist and invariably a smile on her face.

She was endlessly patient and encouraging, even to the most recalcitrant of her pupils - ahem - and she made us want to learn just to please her. I can still remember a report card comment from her that made my heart swell - Congratulations Cormac, you've turned the corner - no back sliding now! Her comment was followed - most unusually for a report card from Gonzaga - by a smiley face. This was in the days before emoticons, but Miss Bimstein was ahead of her time in so many ways. She taught us to love reading, to love words, to love language, to love life. Forty years later, I make my living as a writer, and that is thanks to her. I wouldn't be a reader, let alone a writer, without the warmth, generosity and yes, love, that she lavished on each one of her pupils. Thank you Miss Bimstein - you inspired us all.
Cormac Larkin
July 24, 2019
I was lucky enough to sing in her Lower school choir at The Bush School for three years in addition to having her as my 4th grade teacher. Mrs. B, or Bimmie, as my mum and I lovingly called her, was a truly remarkable human being in very way. She encouraged her students, never allowing us to believe we couldn't do something. From the Phantom Tollbooth, to Haikus, to the now well-known Word Market, MHB touched many lives from Dublin to Seattle and will live on in my memories. Condolences to her family during this difficult time. Were I not currently in the UK with my family, I would be there on Friday.
Sara Carter
July 24, 2019
My brothers and I were lucky enough to have "Mrs Bimstein" as our teacher about 40 years ago during her time in Ireland. She was an extraordinary teacher and a wonderful person. I vividly remember her passion for reading, her fierce love for all of us, and her infectious laugh. She empowered her students to feel the joy, pain, and all the other emotions that literature can share. Her ability to immerse herself and all of us in fictive worlds helped us live fuller, happier, and more empathetic lives. I saw her several times over the subsequent years and she was always bursting with joy. My entire family remembers her with so much affection. Wishing strength and solace to all who loved her.
Kerill O'Neill
July 24, 2019
I wasn't fortunate enough to have Miss Bimstein for English, but I did sing in her choir. Even at 11 years of age I could clearly see and appreciate her energy and enthusiasm as she introduced us to Simon and Garfunkel classics. Picture a group of uniformed Jesuit school boys happily singing Feeling Groovy in late 70's Ireland to understand the positive impression she made on me.

Go raibh maith agat, Miss Bimstein, agus slán leat!
William Dundon
July 24, 2019
Marilyn was a brightly shining star. She and Mike were at all our family events, especially the annual O'Brien St. Patrick's Day Party. I always looked forward to seeing her and hearing her sing. Marilyn made every party just a little more fun! She was family in the best possible way. When my sister died 5 years ago, Marilyn made copies of a poem that was read at the funeral and gave one to me and each of my 5 siblings. She wrote a special message to each of us to help us through our grief.
I will always remember her kindness. She had a voice like an angel, now she's singing with the angels. Rest In Peace my friend. You will be missed.
Anne O' Brien Noziglia
July 23, 2019
Oh Marilyn, what a wonderful legacy, impact and imprint you have left to all who knew you including us...we know your memory will live on! We were all blessed by you and your wonderful singing voice especially at all the O'Brien St. Patrick Day parties & we will also treasure the personal trip you made to our home last year to sing our favorite songs for our 56th. anniversary.
You will be missed!
You were a special gift!
God will always bless your memory!

With God's Lasting Love & Ours,
Dorothy and Moose Clausen
Psalm 23
July 23, 2019
I knew Marilyn as Mrs. Bimstein. She was my 5th grade teacher at Laurelhurst elementary, a long time ago. She was not just a teacher, she was "THE" teacher. The one that impacts your life in ways that still resonate five decades later. Through her I learned to love reading. I still remember tears in her eyes as she read Thorin Oakenshield's farewell to Bilbo in "The Hobit". Her passion and love for the written word inspired me.
I was fortunate enough to get in touch with her in 2016 through my friend Grant Dermody. I was able to tell her what she had meant to me, and what an impact she'd had on my life. It was funny, the first thing she asked was, "what are you reading?"
I am a better person because I knew her, and the world is a better place because of her love and passion.
Farewell Marilyn (Mrs. Bimstein ;)
Thomas Vanlaningham
July 23, 2019
What inspiration Marilyn has been to so many of us over the years here on Capitol Hill in Seattle. Her gracious hospitality welcomed each of us as she shared her appreciation of life. Deeply grateful for her support for sisters as she chose to "with us" in so many ways over the years.
Mary Annette Dworshak, SNJM
July 23, 2019
You will always be in our hearts. You are a true inspiration and a friend. I will never forget you!
All my love,
Emer Dalton
July 23, 2019
Dworshak, SNJM
July 23, 2019
Mary Annette Dworshak, SNJM
July 23, 2019
A truly great teacher in Gonzaga College, SJ in the 1970s. Haiku, word market, the critique of propaganda, The Phantom Toll Booth, Oral Talks, and John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt continue to inspire and have been passed on to my own children. Who swooooped?!?
Rest in peace, MHB.
Barry O'Donnell
July 23, 2019
And I thought it was just the lucky few of us, some fifty plus years ago, in the 5th grade at Laurelhurst elementary school, whose lives were forever transformed by this lovely lady.
Marilyn, well done, rest in peace.
Kelly Davies
July 23, 2019
I have such great memories of Marilyn teaching in Gonzaga, she was a major positive influence on me and I'm sure so many others. I have often thought of her over the past four decades. As said in another tribute, she was a ray of sunshine under our dull Dublin skies. Rest in peace.

Peter O'Sullivan
July 23, 2019
Crushed. Heart overflowing. My Gemini twin. Loving you always.
Erika Kraft
July 23, 2019
I was privileged to have been a pupil of Ms. Bimstein (as we knew her) in Gonzaga College, Dublin.
She was a wonderful and inspiring teacher of English Maths (Math) and Choir. She had a vintage Morris Minor car which she named M2. Above all she fostered in her pupil a sense that they were gifted and talented and had something to contribute. She introduced us to such US Classics as the Phantom Tollbooth and Where the Red Fern Grows. She also fostered a love of language through her word auction competitions which she called a word market.
Its 1978 since she taught me but so excellent a teacher was she that I remember it as if it were yesterday.
Gerard Clarke
July 23, 2019
I was only 9 years old when Mrs Bimstein was my prep 2 teacher in Gonzaga - I have nothing but fond memories of her and her classes, from the spelling bee to the word market, via the Great Auk and Old Yeller (he died and she cried). We fluctuated between Haiku's (odd 3 line Japanese poems) and 'workin on the railroad' at choir practice'. She was a wonderful educator and a lovely women - may she rest in peace.
Michael Carney
July 23, 2019
July 23, 2019
I was a student of "Miss Bimstein" at Gonzaga in Dublin. Despite it being more than forty years ago, I have often remembered her and thought of her. She is undoubtedly one of those who instilled in me a lifelong love of reading. A wonderful teacher, I wish I had had her as a teacher for more than just one year. My deepest condolences to her family.
Paul G
July 23, 2019
Goodbye Miss Bimstein!

A hugely influential source of inspiration, freedom of thought and out-of-the-box thinking. Fondly and vividly remembered more than 40 years later from her days as an English teacher in Gonzaga College SJ, Dublin. Impossible to forget her pushing our nascent creative boundaries to write Haiku, trooping us onto the front lawn in the Autumn to orbit the magnificent Copper Beech in a leaf-kicking ritual which freed the senses, her whimsical car, an early 60s Black Morris Minor, named "M Squared". In those days she was an apparition, a bold novelty, a ray of sunshine under our dull skies bringing a completely alien culture of free thought, open-mindedness, creativity, sensitivity and utter dedication to developing free-thinking minds. A wonderful woman.

May she rest where she can see the sun set and where her feet can still feel the light crunch of Autumn leaves under her shoeless feet.
Jonathan Doyle
July 22, 2019
Rest In Peace Marilyn.
Helen Duignan
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