Oct. 28, 1941 – Sept. 21, 2018
Mary Jane Hill passed away on Friday, Sept. 21. She suffered from lupus for many years, but the immediate cause of her death was a stroke.
Mary Jane was born in Portland, Oregon, on Oct. 28, 1941 to Ruben and Dorothy Kuratli. She spent her early years in Hillsboro, Oregon, and moved to Astoria in 1954. She attended Astoria High School, where she was actively involved in Rainbow and Job’s Daughter. She proved her athletic prowess by earning a letter in clam digging. In 1960, she represented Astoria at the Miss Oregon pageant, where she displayed her talents as a pianist.
She graduated from Astoria High School in 1959, and entered the University of Oregon. Since Oregon did not offer clam digging as a sport, she was forced to give up her dream of being a professional clam digger, and majored in library science instead, receiving her degree in 1964. She was a member of Pi Beta Phi sorority, and in subsequent years enjoyed wonderful reunions with her sorority sisters.
After graduation, she was the librarian at Beaverton High School for three years, during which time she commuted to Eugene in the evenings in order to complete her master’s degree in library science.
In 1968 she moved to Boise, Idaho, and for the next 30 years was the librarian at Boise High School. She would open up the library at 5 a.m. in order to give students a warm place to study and conduct research. One of her fondest memories was to connect with her former students, and take pride in how well they turned out.
During her professional career, she received the award for Outstanding American in 1976, Outstanding Media Director in 1991, Boise Cascade’s Excellence in Education Teacher Award in 1986-1987, and was an Idaho Statesman Distinguished Citizen. She served on the board of the Women’s and Children’s Alliance, and was active in the Idaho Woman’s Charitable Foundation, PEO, and Junior League. She loved to read and travel and, when her health permitted, she spent hours in her garden, which she regarded as therapy.
In 1974 she married David Hill, and shared her love of traveling with him. They took at least one major trip each year, and over the course of their marriage visited all seven continents. These trips included cruising around South America and into Antarctica, a safari in Africa, and a trip to China, where they walked along the Great Wall and cruised down the Yangtze. They especially loved traveling in Europe, and were scheduled to be there at the time of her death.
She was preceded in death by her daughter, Amanda, and her parents, Ruben and Dorothy. She is survived by her husband, David; her brother, Michael Kuratli (Donna); a niece, Alice Hayes; a nephew, Charlie Hayes; three goddaughters; and two cats.
Her life can be summed up by a line paraphrased from one of her favorite Broadway musicals, “La Cage aux Folles” — “She put herself last so that you can be first.”
If you choose, in lieu of flowers, please make a donation in her memory to your favorite charity.