Bette “Heron” Keating

Those close to Heron say she thrived on spontaneous magical moments.

When Heron Keating passed away early in the morning on Friday, October 4, at age 100, the Vashon community lost a beloved elder. A radiant smile, a gentle person, a remarkable woman dressed in purple. This and so much more paints a picture of Heron and her century-long life thriving on magical moments as a mother, grandmother, and friend.

For the past 33 years as an islander, Heron brought the community together across all ages and will be missed by many whose lives she deeply touched with her kind and open heart reflecting her philosophy: “Watch your own thoughts and listen. I am interested in who I’m with and I care about them and that helps me. It helps me to think of others”.

Heron arrived on Vashon in 1986 after living in California for 32 years where she began working as an assistant librarian while raising her children with her husband and pursuing interests in photography, ceramics, and sculpture. She also enjoyed opening her home to art shows in the Oakland, San Francisco Bay area and was active in the Audubon Society, the practice of Buddhism and hiking. While in California, Heron fell in love with the ocean and spent time in her cottage in the Pacific Coast town of Mendocino, walking the headlands, making friends and creating art that continued to be part of her life for a long time. She also traveled to Puerto Vallarta for vacations and, once settled on Vashon, favored excursions to Port Townsend reflecting her affinity for natural beauty and how much she valued artistic expression.

Heron was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and moved for a time with her parents and two brothers to Colorado. Her mother, Ruth Wheelock, was a school teacher. Her father, Paul F. Maxwell, was a weatherman for the US Weather Bureau (NOAA) stationed in Yellowstone. When Heron was four years old, her father died tragically in an avalanche accident in Wagon Wheel Gap, Colorado, and the family then moved to Auburn, Massachusetts, to be with grandparents. Heron graduated from Auburn schools and attended secretarial school in Boston. Her working career began at the Harvard Business School Library where she met her husband to be, David Keating. They married and had three children, Daphne, Pat and Jeff.

Heron is survived by her children Daphne (& Stan) Collins, Pat Keating, and Jeff Keating, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Those close to Heron say she thrived on spontaneous magical moments. She went through her day visiting people, which is one reason she so enjoyed sitting on the bench in front of The Vashon Bookshop and in Thriftway. Heron often said, “People come up to me and they just introduce themselves to me. This is a very caring community.” Indeed, and the Keating family wishes to thank everyone who supported Heron in living a beautiful life in her home here on Vashon right up until the end.

We love you, Heron. Go in peace.

A celebration of life honoring Heron will take place on Wednesday, November 20th, 2019, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Snapdragon.

People are invited to wear purple and to bring an artistic expression of themselves to share at the gathering. Songs, poems, stories, drawings are welcome. Please bring a potluck dish to share.

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