Lee Ockinga-Kopines

She will always be remembered for the force for accomplishing good that she was.

Lee Ockinga-Kopines passed away on March 18, 2024, at the young age of 63, following her battle with a rare and terminal illness. Her journey with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (also known as Steele-Richardson Olszewski Syndrome) covered five years, during which she mustered inspirational strength and projected great dignity.

Lee was a pillar of community engagement for 25 years, notably in the nonprofit sector, for which she had a passion, and during which time she raised her two children, Paul Ockinga, 33, and Lauren Brenneman, 28, with her former husband, and dear friend, Norm Ockinga. She lived long enough to see both her children married and to share love with her precious grandson, Coen Brenneman, who is age one.

Lee was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, on November 13, 1960. She was the first of four children born to Carl and Dianne Kopines. When it came time for higher education selection, she rejected the notion of University of Nebraska as the school colors were red and white, and red was decidedly her least favorite color. Instead, Lee attended University of Colorado and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing.

Norm and Lee met in Palm Springs, California, in 1988. They were married in 1991 in Tacoma, Washington. Following the birth of both their children, they moved to Vashon Island in 1996. Lee, deservedly, obtained the position of publisher of The Beachcomber, a fortuitous fit for everyone. This role of leadership with the island’s popular communicator was perfect for Lee’s ideals and goals. It launched her into greater visibility and connections to pursue her love of volunteerism. She immediately appeared on several boards of directors, including the Vashon Maury Community Food Bank, Rotary Club and Dance Vashon. The family moved to University Place in the year 2000 but quickly returned to their true home (Vashon Island) two years later, whereupon Lee characteristically dove right back into community leadership. She and her children could be found at board meetings after school or volunteering on the weekends. She orchestrated the entire Strawberry Festival and served on the Chamber of Commerce board of directors. Soon after, Lee became the executive director of the Chamber. A few years on, she saw the need for a nonprofit organization on the island to help people with disabilities secure employment. She founded Seeds4Success and assisted many grateful individuals. While running this organization, Lee also volunteered with the Interfaith Council to Prevent Homelessness and the Vashon Alliance to Reduce Substance Abuse (VARSA).

In 2020, unfortunately, Lee was diagnosed with her neurological disorder which affected everything from how she spoke to how she walked. In 2022, she moved to an adult family home in Auburn, Washington where she lived until she passed away peacefully. Lee Ockinga Kopines left a mark on this community which she loved so much and will always be remembered for the force for accomplishing good that she was.

There will be a small private ceremony for the family.

Should one wish to honor Lee and embrace her family, it would be appropriate to support VARSA.


P O BOX 2341 Vashon 98070