Doris Anna Ethel (Grass) Van Alen died unexpectedly from an accident on Feb. 5, 2017 in Seattle, Washington at the age of 89. She lived in Seattle for nearly a year preceding her death.
Doris is survived by her children, Lydia Lester (Wasilla, AK), Ben (Myra), Juneau, AK and Derek (Jana), Kent, WA; grandchildren, Vanessa, Brett and Melissa, and great grandson, Trenton. She was preceded in death by her husband of 50 years, and by her son, Timothy.
Doris was born on Jan. 14, 1928 in Brooklyn, New York to George Grass and Anna (Meyer) Grass. She graduated from Brooklyn College with a degree in mathematics. She married William (Bill) Van Alen, a geologist and musician. They lived in Salt Lake City, UT and Casper, WY before moving to Anchorage, AK nine days after Alaska achieved Statehood in 1959. They lived there for 30 years where they raised four children. Doris and her family explored the State, including camping during the Chena River flood in Fairbanks, and travel to the Arctic. She and her family’s life were influenced by salient events of Alaska’s history including the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, the 1964 earthquake, and discoveries of oil in the North Slope.
After retirement, Doris and Bill moved to Friday Harbor, Washington, where they became an integral part of the community. Doris was a member of San Juan Island Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, the fiber arts guild and volunteered for years at the senior center. She was an accomplished fiber artist with works that included quilts, clothing, and knitted and felted items. She won many awards over the years at the San Juan Island County Fair and contributed handmade items to various charities.
Doris’s accounting career included work as a payroll specialists and tax accountant. She also volunteered as a treasurer for the Anchorage Unitarian Universalist Fellowship where it was said she balanced the books with precision. Her family remembers her saying “I love numbers way too much to guess.” She enjoyed Sudoku.
A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Mullis Center in Friday Harbor, Washington at 2 p.m. All are welcome to attend and celebrate Doris’s life. In lieu of flowers, please bring fresh fruit and vegetables to be donated to the food bank after the service.