Phyllis Nadine “Connie” Van Hees died peacefully in her home, in the arms of her adoring husband and surrounded by her family, on Nov. 26, 2013, at the age of 79, after a courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She will always be remembered for her ear-to-ear smile, sense of humor, and unbridled enthusiasm for life. Her insatiable desire for knowledge led her back to college at the age of 30, when she attended North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene and Gonzaga University in Spokane, majoring in art and history.
She continued to pursue her passion and talent for art in the forms of painting and leaded glass. She loved everything about books – the content, the smell and the feel – and read almost constantly. She had the energy and curiosity of a child, and was willing to try just about anything once. She always told it like she saw it, while falling virtually in love with almost everyone she met. Connie truly danced like no one was watching, and did it at every opportunity.
Although she remained firmly rooted to her home and family, and accompanied her husband on many adventures, she always found time to be involved in her community and with her friends. She was an officer in the Soroptomists Club, and the “Queen Mother” and superintendent of the arts at the Okanogan County Fair. She was a member of the Pine Grove Community Club, an aerobic instructor, a building designer and bookkeeper for Van Hees Construction, and volunteered for numerous other causes in Okanogan County. Even to the end she was always saying, “Come on kids, let’s go.”
Connie was born on March 10, 1934, Phyllis Nadine Constable, in Cooper, Iowa. She married her high school sweetheart, Arnold Van Hees, in 1951, and they remained married for 62 years. Moving around the Northwest, they lived in the Yakima Valley, the west side of the mountains and northern Idaho, but settled in the Okanogan Valley for their final 25 years together on their beloved farm by Buzzard Lake. She raised her three children with a strong hand and a soft heart. She loved and cared for her grandchildren with wild abandon. She and Arnie loved Hawaii and spent many winters there until flying lost its appeal. They then spent their later winters in Arizona.
Connie is survived by her husband, Arnold Van Hees of Okanogan, her sister Corlene Crane of Redmond, Ore., her daughters Laloni Christenson of Bend, Ore., Nadine Van Hees of Winthrop, and son Gerald Van Hess of Okanogan, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. She is now reunited with the loved ones who preceded her – her brother Robert Constable, her mother and father, Corliss and Peg Constable, her grandson Travis daCosta and great- granddaughter Kassidy Wood.
A service will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 7) at the Presbyterian church in Okanogan.