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Helen Marie Engle


1926 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Helen Marie Engle Obituary
Helen Marie Engle Feb. 18, 1926 - March 11, 2019 Helen Engle, daughter of James Orvin Harris and Nancy Grace Evans Harris, was a nurse, environmental activist and longtime University Place resident. Born in Tacoma on February 18, 1926, she passed away peacefully at home, looking out over the garden she loved, on March 11, 2019. Helen grew up in Oakville, WA, in Grays Harbor County during the depression. As a young girl she developed a love for the natural world and all things in it. She trained as a nurse during World War II, graduating in 1946. She married Stan Engle in 1947. In 1955 they built a modern home on an acre of land in what is now University Place, and Helen began to cultivate the property, eventually growing an urban forest of trees and native plants. Helen and Stan joined the Mountaineers in 1952 and so began a lifetime of advocacy for wild places and the environment. She was a pioneer in the early environmental movement around the Pacific Northwest. She used her home and garden as an organizing tool, hosting meetings of all kinds to organize and build that movement. She was a founding member of Tahoma Audubon and the Washington Environmental Council, served on the National Audubon Board, and was given innumerable service and lifetime achievement awards, including an Honorary Doctorate from UPS. She spent over 60 years advocating for environmental causes and could speak authoritatively on many issues. Helen worked multi-generationally, always encouraging new and younger leadership, and brought together those on both sides of an issue to encourage dialogue and understanding. She worked to build coalitions of groups so that their impact was magnified, and she never lost site of the goal a healthy environment for the generations that will come after us. Helen taught her children to love each other and all living things. She also "adopted" people into our family every holiday included two or three others who were graciously added to the table. She befriended neighborhood children and taught them about the earth, using her garden as a classroom. She had an unflagging positive spirit! Helen was also a seamstress, crafter, artist, skier, hiker, camper, birder, naturalist, avid reader, and a lifelong Methodist. Predeceased by her husband, Stan Engle, in March of 2009, she is survived by her brother, James Harris, and sister, Anita Hawkins, as well as her seven children, David (Margaret), Christopher (Dianne), George (Janet), Gretchen (Al), William (Alison), Heidi (Bruce), Melanie and adopted family member, Bob Warfield, six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. We are thankful for the long and productive arc of her life, for the many places she saved, the many people she touched and the lifetime of memories she leaves with us. We were happy to share our mom with those who loved her. A mighty oak has fallen, but a grove is left in her footsteps. A celebration of Helen's life will be held on Saturday, May 4th at 3:30 PM at Mason United Methodist Church, 2710 N Madison, Tacoma. Helen would be honored with remembrances to Tahoma Audubon or the Tacoma Mountaineers.
Published in News Tribune (Tacoma) on Apr. 28, 2019
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