Heather Hill BA ’87, November 19, 2022, age 57.
Sunshine and Delight
A tribute by Elizabeth Watkins BS ’88, MAT ’92
I was just a teenager when I met Heather Hill in a teaching methods class at Lewis & Clark. I was drawn to her happy, bubbly demeanor as well as her kindness. I was thankful we had our classes together; she kept things light but focused.
For a field biology assignment, we hopped into her baby blue VW Bug and went through the drive-through at McDonald’s before stopping at a nearby pond to observe and record data on mallard ducks. We drank our black coffee from plastic Hamburglar cups and laughed over the ducks’ behavior. Our professor didn’t believe some of our data, although it was all true!
Back in the day, L&C classrooms remained unlocked at night, so Heather and I decided to cram for a test in one of them. Heather brought her coffee pot, snacks, boom box, assorted markers, pens, and pencils. I am unsure how she managed to bring it all, but she did. We crammed for that test way into the morning hours. It may not have been the best way to learn the material, but it was certainly memorable. We both earned A’s on our exam.
During our college days, we put in a lot of steps between Akin and Copeland (our respective dorms), Templeton Student Center, and, yes, even Watzek Library. Many of Heather’s hours were spent in the art department in Fields, where she shared just some of her many talents.
Fast-forward a few years and we were both married with kids. We taught during the school year and spent our summer days watching our kids make gooey mud pies in Carson, Washington; create wind-blown sandcastles in Newport, Oregon; and beg us for more tickets at the Hood River County Fair. Seeing Bubba, the boa constrictor, while visiting OMSI was a true highlight—especially when we discovered the case had been accidentally left unlocked. Can you imagine two 5-year-olds opening the cage door? But my favorite experience at OMSI was the photo-op with our boys driving in Richard Scarry’s nostalgic Bananas Gorilla Bananamobile.
All of these joy-filled memories don’t reveal the hardships that Heather endured. A rare form of cancer (ALM) was the cause of her thumb being removed. Years later, she went through brain surgery to remove a pear-sized cyst. And, of course, all of this was on top of the struggles of everyday life.
But through it all, Heather was a true champion! She never wavered in her kindness. She was always a caring, helpful, giving, amazing human, whom I adored. Technically, we should use the past tense: Heather was pure sunshine and delight. However, for many, she continues to be an unwavering guiding light.
I am slowly realizing that a lifelong friendship doesn’t end because someone passes away. Heather is with me every day–when I choose to spend time truly listening to elders’ reminisce; when I generously tip a server because it’s a tough job; and when I spend time creating art or colorful spaces. These are things Heather did thoughtfully every day. I keep Heather with me by emulating her everyday persona. She inspires me and others to be sunshine and delight.
So, choose joy. Hold tight to your friendships. Nurture them so they grow. Smile at the rainbow in the sky. And I bet you might hear Heather’s beautiful voice singing these words from Rihanna’s song Diamonds: “Shine bright like a diamond / Shine bright like a diamond / Find light in the beautiful sea / I choose to be happy / You and I, you and I, we’re like diamonds in the sky. …”
My lifelong friend, my sunshine, is shining bright in the heavens. She is playing her jukebox and dancing under her disco ball. I miss her, truly!
To honor the memory of Heather Hill Ferrigan BA ’87, who passed away November 19, 2022, following a brain aneurysm, we are striving to have a memorial bench placed at the Fields Center for the Visual Arts, a spot that brought Heather joy. In turn, we hope others will find comfort and inspiration there.
Please donate toward the funding of this memorial bench by following the link below; our project goal is $5,000 to meet L&C’s installation costs. The friends and family of Heather Hill can make a gift toward the bench on L&C’s main giving page: https://engage.lclark.edu/register/casgiving. Select “People: Scholarships” and then “In memory of: Heather Hill.”
For assistance, contact Tara McIrvin, director of stewardship, at email@example.com or 503-768-7916.