Claudia Yvonne Hawley
Claudia Y. Hawley, 80, departed this life after a valiant fight against pancreatic cancer that lasted only 90 days. Surrounded by her family for the final weeks of her life, Claudia passed away in the quiet morning hours of July 11, 2019.
Claudia was born on July 19, 1937 to Orville and Lilah (Hensley) Wright in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She shared the small stucco house built by her father on North 7th Street with older brother Bud, and younger siblings Judy and Stephen along with the family’s little dog, Tag. Growing up in Coeur d’Alene was an enchanting experience for Claudia. There were always fun adventures to be found. Bike rides with friends to Nettleton Gulch to visit cousins or maybe Sander’s Beach for swimming, Tubbs Hill for hiking or enjoying Playland Pier on the waterfront by Coeur d’Alene City Park.
As a young girl of 7 years old, she recalled her first “official” stint with the US Government came in the waning years of WWII as her Blue Bird-Camp Fire Girls were called to assist the local Civil Defense Corps. The girls were quickly trained and then tasked with observing the skies for enemy planes from the high tower of the city fire department. She took the job seriously and wanted to do her part in the war effort. No enemy planes were ever spotted, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.
She also recalled never going hungry during the lean war years due to rationing. The family garden was large and plentiful and her father, a union carpenter by trade, always seemed to have work. She learned to cook and sew from her mother, talents that she would put to good use later in her life. During her senior year at Coeur d’Alene High School, Claudia was crowned Miss Coeur d’Alene 1955 and was later voted Miss Congeniality by her peers during the Miss Idaho Pageant in Boise. Throughout her life, Claudia treated everyone with an abundance of love and compassion. Friendships that were made would last a lifetime, with many of those friends contacting her during her final months.
A year after high school, Claudia married her first husband, Jim Pieratt in 1956. After the birth of their son Brad, they moved first to Cheney to finish college at Eastern Washington University, and then to Port Orchard where they settled to raise their family. Their second son Andre, born in 1961, completed the family and soon afterwards Claudia went to work at the nearby Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as a Supply Clerk for submarines stationed at Bangor on Hood Canal. One of her responsibilities was to procure spare parts for the then classified Polaris nuclear missile system. After a few years in the shipyard, Claudia was rewarded by her superiors for her work in securing critical components for the newly upgraded submarines and she was deemed an official “Plank Owner” for a new submarine being launched in New London, Connecticut. A rare honor not normally bestowed on non-crewmembers, much less a civilian.
In July 1968 seeking better winter weather conditions and career advancement, Claudia and family moved to Wenatchee during the hottest day of that year. It was 104 degrees when they arrived in the valley and she was soon questioning their decision to leave the cooler marine climate of Puget Sound. Those concerns were quickly alleviated when they purchased a house with a swimming pool on the first day they went looking. Claudia soon found work with the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) at their Wenatchee Construction Office as a Budget Clerk.
During their first winter in Wenatchee, Claudia and the boys learned to ski at the Badger Mountain Ski Hill, a sport that exposed them to a lifetime of backcountry activities like hiking and camping in our beautiful wilderness areas. It also opened her eyes to the beauty and history of this special place she now called home. Wildflowers, birding, rockhounding, and amateur archaeology all resulted in fascinating adventures for the remainder of her days.
In March of 1974, Claudia was married for a second time, this time to her soulmate, Hal Hawley. They were married by the esteemed Reverend Love in a lavish little wedding chapel located on Lake Tahoe in Nevada. Everything that day was perfect except for the obvious artificial flowers in the chapel. She fondly referred to it after that as “our plastic wedding”. Their early life together was highlighted by adventures in wine making, ski trips, and frequent camping trips to forests, national parks and ocean beaches in Washington and Oregon. Additionally, they always enjoyed escaping to the big cities of Seattle and Portland for their museums, shopping and fine dining.
In 1976, Claudia and Hal collaborated to design and build the house of their dreams. Situated on a sandy hillside below the old Fancher Airfield, the house commanded a view of Mount Cashmere and the Enchantments. It was the ideal location for a house she had been dreaming about and designing in her head for years. Finally, all those clippings from 20 years of subscribing to Sunset Magazine would be put to good use. Completed and moved into in 1977, she turned her attention to the landscaping. An ambitious design with many trips to western Washington nurseries soon resulted in an oasis on the hillside above Baker Street. Gardening in her Shangri-La until just weeks before her death gave her such peace and Zen for all those years. Her fingerprints are on most everything in this home and garden and it’s very comforting to those of us who can see her design choices and feel her presence in all of it.
In 1985 when the BPA Construction Office in Wenatchee was closed, Claudia transferred to the USDA Tree Fruit Research Service here in Wenatchee as a budget analyst. She continued with them until finishing her 30 years of government service and retiring in 1994.
Retirement brought ample opportunity for one of her favorite things, travel. She and Hal enjoyed exotic locations throughout the world to experience the culture and foods of these hidden gems. Whether it was staying at a salmon farm on a Scottish Loch, driving the west coast of Ireland, or
experiencing the true Italy by touring with Rick Steves, she relished it all. They also traveled and explored Belgium, Denmark, and Holland.
By far, Claudia’s most unique travel experience was visiting Egypt for a month-long stay with her son in Ismailia on the Suez Canal. She was introduced to a Bedouin family living in the Sinai where she was “adopted” into the dinner circle of tribal men and allowed to take part in a feast of young goat slaughtered in honor of her visit. She braved desert treks into the searing heat of the Sahara to explore ancient Neolithic sites, roman ruins, and early Coptic Christian burial tombs that had yet to be excavated. And she marveled at the Monastery of Saint Catherine where she rode a camel through the night to allow her to summit the peak of Mount Sinai at daybreak. Egypt was a life changing trip for her.
When not travelling to the far corners of the world, Claudia and Hal found some pretty exciting places to visit in our own country. With her acting as the official navigator and detailed itinerary maker, it seems they explored much of the back-road areas of the United States. Favorite trips include Appalachia, the Northeast during peak Fall foliage, Northern Arizona during the winter, Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Gulf Coast, Alaska and the Aleutian Islands, and most National Parks.
A very special place to Claudia was the silver mining ghost town of Castle in Meagher County, Montana. Discovered by her grandfather J.E. Hensley and his three brothers in the early 1880s, she’s made numerous trips to the family homestead since she was a young girl. Claudia finally realized a lifelong dream in 2016 when she was able to purchase the 20-acre property and mineral rights to the famous Cumberland Mine and returned it to her family’s ownership for the first time in over 130 years. This property will forever be her gift to the future generations of this family.
Those who knew Claudia understood her fondness for great cuisine. She was famous for the lavish meals she served to family and friends throughout her years. Claudia could be dining in New Orleans one evening and have the recipes reverse engineered by the time she arrived back home. She was not afraid to talk with head chefs and had a uniqueness that was all Claudia when it came to ordering items NOT on the menu, or requesting to sit in a particular location in the restaurant to maximize her dining experience. But, she was also just as comfortable eating fish & chips wrapped in newsprint while sitting on log at the beach. It was always about the friends and family who joined her for the experience.
Claudia’s legacy continues through the lives of her husband Harold “Hal” Hawley of East Wenatchee; sons Brad (Kim) Pieratt and Andre (Jan) Pieratt, both of the Wenatchee Valley; step-children Michael Hawley of Tonasket; Scott (Rita) Hawley of West Fork, Arkansas; and Pat (Aaron) Hawley of Federal Way. The source of her greatest pride was her grandchildren, including Nate Pieratt, who passed away in 2009; Zach (Diana) Pieratt of Stemilt Hill; Heather (David
Danner) Suffron of Monroe; Josh (Carley Cole) Pieratt of East Wenatchee; Holly (Nigel) Keur of Kabwe, Zambia; Amanda (Aaron) Miller of Cashmere. A very special place in Claudia’s heart was reserved for her great grandchildren Emma Jane and Elsie Grace Pieratt of Stemilt Hill and Asha and Justus Keur of Kabwe, Zambia. She savored every minute she spent with those kids and relished any opportunity to visit or babysit. She was so proud of all of them. In the final days of her life, she stated that her greatest disappointment will be missing the opportunity to watch the kids grow up and share in their lives.
Except for a few small bumps on the path of life, one of Claudia’s favorite sayings would pretty much sum up her lifetime, “Oh Kid, it was exquisite!”.
Claudia was preceded in death by her parents and grandson Nathanial Pieratt. Besides her immediate family, she is survived by brothers Orville “Bud” (Isla) Wright of Shelton, WA and Stephen (JoAnn) Wright of Coeur d’Alene, ID; and sister Judy (Marty) Brooks of Santa, ID in addition to the many cousins, nieces and nephews and great friends she garnered throughout her life.
At Claudia’s request, a private family gathering and celebration of her life will be held next spring on family property in the Stemilt Basin when the wildflowers are in peak bloom and the hummingbirds return.
Special thanks to Dr. Mitchell Garrison and staff at Confluence Oncology Department and especially the nurses of Confluence Hospice that responded with compassionate care for Claudia and the entire family during those final weeks. Most importantly, you allowed her to maintain her grace and dignity during the final days of her life and we are grateful for that. Thank you for all you did. In lieu of flowers, the family request memorials in Claudia’s name to Seattle Children’s Hospital (seattlechildrens.org)