Born in Tacoma, Washington, on April 7, 1938, to Edward John Arthur and Wilhelmina Juliana Van den Steen, Sally was the third of four children. Her parents and her brothers, Louis and Jon, preceded her in death. She is survived by her sister Julie Thompson, her son Richard Williams and his wife Krista, her daughter Sarah McHale and her husband Joel, and her grandsons Eddie and Isaac McHale. She also leaves her brother- and sister-in-law Jeray and Carolyn Holmes, her sisters-in law Katia Arthur Healy and Janne Arthur, many nieces and nephews, and a host of people who loved her.
Sally graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma in 1956 and received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Washington in 1960.
In high school she was a cheerleader, pep queen, member of a dance troupe and the Royal Fins water ballet, and president of the Girls’ Club. At the UW, she was a member of Silver Fish water ballet, president of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, and a member of Mortar Board and Phi Beta Kappa. During summer holidays she worked as a lifeguard and swim instructor, teaching kids to swim in chilly Puget Sound at Dockton Park on Vashon Island, where her family spent summers in their cabin, affectionately called Snug Harbor.
After graduating from the UW, Sally worked as a first-grade teacherin Seattle and on a US army base in Göppingen, Germany, before earning a master’s degree in education from the UW in 1966 and working as a reading consultant in Lacey, Wash.
In need of a date for her 10-year high school reunion, Sally was set up by dear friends with the love of her life, Richard (Dick) Hayden Williams of Renton, Washington.They dated for a year before marrying in 1967,raising their children in Renton. Sally and Dick were active members of Fairwood United Methodist Church, where they taught fifth grade Sunday school and Sally sang in the choir. Their love for each other was deep and rooted in their shared love of God. Dick was tragically killed in a car accident in 1981, and Sally prayerfully and beautifully devoted herself to raising her children. She loved keeping up with friends from all over the world and hosted Eva, a German exchange student, after Sarah and Richard were grown. She was an incredible mother, fervent in her faith, actively involved in Young Life on the local committee and as a yacht hostess at Malibu Club in Canada. Her Christian faith steadied and guided her all her life. She participated in Community Bible Study and began attending University Presbyterian Church when Sarah was a student at the UW.
Sally was intellectually curious, loved reading detective novels, traveling, skiing and gardening. Everyone knew her by her memorable fashion sense, with her ahead-of-the-trend eyeglasses, colorful outfits, one-of-a-kind hats and creative accessories. But they knew her best for her contagious smile and generous love. Her children’s friends embraced her as their own friend, because she saw people in a special way and made everyone feel valued.
Sally spent the last years of her life in her colorful home on Vashon Island with her cherished dog Lulu, gardening, painting, hosting friends and family, especially her grandsons whom she loved dearly. She created beautiful watercolor cards that she sold in shops on Vashon, was involved at Bethel Church, and welcomed countless neighbors (especially kids) into her home for homemade cookies or Tootsie rolls. Her garden was featured in the storied Vashon Garden Tour. She was a consummate hostess, a great dancer, and had an infectious laugh. She visited Sarah and her family in Los Angeles as often as she could, never missing a grandson’s birthday. For the last eight years, Sally suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, but even as her mind and body declined, her spirit was filled with light and love and she generously gave to anyone who came into her orbit. She died peacefully at home at sunset on Friday, January 19, 2024, in the presence of her children, dear friends, and devoted caregivers.
After a private family burial, Sally’s memorial service will be held at 11 am on Saturday, Feb. 24, at Bethel Church on Vashon Island. The family suggests contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association in Sally’s memory.