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Molly Rose Turner was born at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle on December 4, 1926, to Ferdette G. Turner (from Minnesota, born 1897) and Florence G. Wilmore (from Colorado, born 1898). Molly’s great grandparents immigrated to America as couples (ages 24 and 32) from England and Germany between 1850 and 1875.
Molly grew up in West Seattle in a comfortable home at 4514 SW Findlay St. She attended Jefferson Elementary School, (where Jefferson Square Safeway is now located on 42nd St.).
Her Dad, Ferdette, (nicknamed “Spud”), worked for City Light as an electric stove repairman. In this role he drove around West Seattle to service his customers’ repair needs. In his local travels, he came upon a triple plot of land for sale on the west side of Genesee hill with an amazing view. He and Florence bought the land and planned their dream home, with the help of architect Basil Gerrard. Spud designed the brick fireplace, coved plaster ceilings and stone-paved patios and stairways, while Florence carefully planned the roomy, light-filled kitchen with lots of cupboards and drawers. The rooms took advantage of the beautiful western view of the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound. The house was completed when Molly was 12, and she attended Madison Middle School and West Seattle High School, graduating in 1945. At that time there was no road up Charleston Hill, so she had to walk on a trail through the woods to get to school!
The family also owned a rustic cabin at Denny Creek near the top of Snoqualmie Pass. The cozy cabin was on land leased from USDA Forest Service. They enjoyed it very much throughout the years. During the winter, they cross-country skied 4 miles in, from the old highway! Molly loved that cabin, especially the large flat boulders bordering Denny Creek, but her mother did not like the mice that would move in during their absences!
As an only child, Molly was shy and quiet. She was a good student and excelled in office management skills and ping pong! One summer, she met Jack Chase at the Natatorium on Alki Beach. (The Natatorium was a dance hall and swimming pool built over the sand in front of where Pepperdock’s is now, near 58th St. SW). There was both a warm pool and a cold pool. Molly was a lovely young lady and Jack was truly smitten. He showed it by pushing her into the cold pool! Molly may have been attracted by Jack’s healthy tan and sense of fun and adventure, or maybe opposites attract? Who knows? At any rate, thus began a teenage romance - Jack being ‘The Alki Beach Bum’ and Molly ‘The Lovely Young Lady on the Hill.’
Jack wanted to serve his Country and see the world as World War II was raging. He lied about his age, left high school and joined the Navy at age 17. He served in the South Pacific war theatre. This took him physically away from Molly, but their romance continued to grow through correspondence. Upon his return following the war he proposed to Molly in the SW corner of Schmitz Park. Spud and Florence liked Jack, but they wanted him to finish High School by getting his GED before marrying Molly. He did! Jack and Molly were married in a beautiful outdoor garden wedding at the family home at 5763 SW Orleans Street, June 21, 1947, and honeymooned in Yellowstone National Park.
Spud was once again watching out for nice land for sale in West Seattle, this time for Molly and Jack to build a home. He found a nice double lot on a dead-end street nearby, at 2727 50th Ave SW. He helped Jack and Molly build the “Little House” in 1949. It was a small home, designed to be a ‘starter’ home, which could eventually be converted into a large garage, if desired.
They loved their Little House and started working on the landscaping with the help of Jack’s sister, Mary Jane’s, husband, Horace “Hap” Hardgrove, a skilled rockery designer and landscaper. Jack got a job with City Light as a lineman, and for a few years Molly worked as a secretary for a company that produced high-quality paper stationery.
Before long, their first child was born, Daniel (Dan), in May of 1951. The Little House was big enough for 3, but when Julia came along in May of 1954, they needed more room. The “Big House” was designed and built on the adjoining property. It had 2 bedrooms and a creative, double-loop floor plan, making the home roomy and very functional. Christina (Tina)was born 18 months later in Nov, 1955, and their family was complete.
Molly worked as a Home Engineer. She loved her family, her home and her extensive, beautiful gardens. She also truly valued the beauty of the Northwest, a love that was inspired by her Dad, Spud who joined The Mountaineers and REI Co-Op when they were newly created. (Of note: Spud also joined Group Health Co-Op, when it formed in 1945, thus providing health care for his growing extended family. He loved the philosophy behind co-ops).
The 3 kids loved the dead-end street they grew up on. They could safely ride their bikes, play outdoor games with their many cousins and neighborhood kids in the extensive gardens, enjoy the huge rope swing which hung from the fir trees, build trails in nearby sand banks, and most of all, hang out in the amazing tree house Jack built. It had ‘telephone pole pegs’ to climb up the tall tree, wooden bunk beds, a small deck with a view of the ferries at night, and even a ‘pulley wheel’ to aid in hauling up all the sleeping gear. A perfect escape for both quiet reflection, and teenage slumber parties.
When Dan was about 10 years old Jack built him a bedroom in the basement. Dan liked his new private space, and the 2 girls enjoyed their shared room - without him! From that basement location, when the wind was blowing from the north, Dan could distinctly hear the early morning whistle of the Duwamish trains. He knew that the north wind usually brought good weather, and if he could hear those train whistles on a weekend that ensured fun, outdoor family adventures awaited!
Together, Molly and Jack planned many alpine mountain hikes, camping trips, bike rides, boating vacations, days swimming at a lake or river, and even backpacking excursions as the kids grew up. Jack was quite the adventurer and he had the family climbing the steep, slippery rockslide up Pinnacle Peak at Mt Rainier (6,562’), losing track of the climbing route high on Guye Peak (5,168′) at SnoqualmiePass (on several occasions until we finally conquered it), almost running out of gas in a small boat way up Lake Chelan during an unexpected gale-force wind storm, fishing from small rented “kicker” boats out in the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean, getting lost in the snow near the top of McClellan Butte (5,162′), almost sliding into the snowy river on the way to the Mt. Rainier Ice Caves, and many other adventures. Molly made sure that (most of) these outings were safe and sane, and their children grew up to cherish, respect, and help to conserve the beautiful NW, as well as all of Earth’s natural wonders.
Jack had grown up in a Christian family, so the 3 kids were sent to West Side Presbyterian Sunday School. Rarely did Molly and Jack attend, but West Side Pres had a strong Sunday School program and the kids learned Bible lessons and lots of songs, often being taught by two of their aunts, Marguerite Parlato and Mary Jane Hardgrove. Molly had a deep appreciation of the natural world that sustained her and was her Spiritual connection.
Molly was not involved in politics, but her Dad had taught her to always VOTE, and she did! And always Democratic. She also participated in every ‘newspaper drive’ the local schools held and must have been one of the first West Seattle residents with a backyard compost pile! Caring for our Earth was always demonstrated by her actions, not just her words.
The 3 kids grew up, married and bought West Seattle homes of their own. Molly and Jack continued their adventures adding a camper and a Honda 750 ‘Gold Wing’ motorcycle to their collection of recreational toys to enjoy. They even made a road trip all the way to San Diego on that ‘Gold Wing!’
They also loved their 6 grandchildren: Dana, Laura, Luke, Brian, Nick and Mary. Grandma Molly had endless energy for regular “play dates” at their house, with all the kids enjoying the gardens and paths, puzzles and toys, outdoor games, making mud pies, her ‘kid-friendly’ cooking, and the endless supply of small cans of apricot nectar in the kitchen hall cupboard. All the kids loved adventures with Grandpa Jack! He kept them busy with tools and projects in his workshop, making ‘rainbows’ with the pressure washer, and taking them on very illegal rides on his small Honda 90 through the narrow trails of Schmitz Park! Jack and Molly also opened their home and hearts to Chelsea and Nathan, Dana and Luke’s best friends. They all had a blast together and they called Jack and Molly their ‘Seattle Grandparents.’
Sadly, Molly’s Mother, Florence, passed away young, from leukemia in 1961 (age 63). Her 3 grandchildren, Dan, Juliaand Tina, were youngsters, so didn’t get to know her well. Following Florence’s passing, Spud came to Molly and Jack’s house every Sunday for a big family dinner. The 3 kids also loved visiting Grandpa Spud’s ‘house on the hill’ and playing in his huge, amazing yard and fun basement.
Happily, in his later years, Spud found love again with Jeannette (Jen) Slauson Brown, a Franklin High School classmate with whom he reconnected at a Mountaineers event. They had much in common and soon married, so Molly had a Stepmom, and the kids had another Grandma! They had 20+ happy years together! Jeanette passed away in 1984.
When Spud’s health began to fail, Molly and Jack moved in with him (thus Molly returning to her childhood home). Of course, they loved helping Spud, and the view and gardens are ‘a bit of heaven,’ but they did miss their home after so many years. They left behind good neighbors, well-loved gardens and of course Jack’s huge workshop/garage. Spud passed away in 1992 at the age of 95.
Jack retired from a long career at City Light and thrived, taking full advantage of his free time: gardening, fixing cars and staying active riding his bike around West Seattle. Jack and Molly loved Spud’s home as they aged. They sat and watched the ships coming and going and the sunsets every night. Jack passed on in May 2009. Molly lived there for 8 more years with family and devoted caregivers to take her on outings, help clean house, tend the gardens, keep her company, and care for her.
In 2017 Molly moved to the European Senior Care Adult Family Home (AFH), a few blocks up the hill from her home, on the corner of 55th and Charlestown St. It had the same western view, plus she enjoyed a private room with glass doors opening out to her own patio garden. She had colorful flowers, bird feeders and her big seashell collection to look at. The care provided by the loving owners and staff at the AFH was excellent, and the family visited regularly. Luckily, Molly never caught COVID-19, probably because she was shy and preferred to stay in her own lovely room rather than mingle with the other residents at mealtimes.
Molly had an emergency hospital stay in June 2022. She recovered, but due to her overall declining health and her age (95), she was put on Hospice care. She was a “Hospice survivor” for over a year(!), continuing to enjoy family visits, wheelchair strolls in the neighborhood, good food, and all the comforts of home.
A year later, on July 1, 2023, Molly experienced a sudden change in health. Over the following 3 weeks her mental state and physical energy quickly declined, and she had no appetite. She gently slipped away from us on July 21, 2023. She passed peacefully after enjoying many visits, phone calls and cards from her beloved family, caregivers, and Hospice staff over her final 3 weeks. (Many thanks to the excellent Hospice nurses, social worker and chaplain.)
Molly is survived by her 3 children: Dan (Linda), Julia (Joe) and Tina; 6 grandchildren: Dana (Dan), Luke (Tera), Laura (Brian B.T.), Brian C., Nick and Mary (Nathan); and 7 great-grandchildren (Ben, Khloe, Lena, Sydney, Jack, Henry and Micah), plus step-family with Julia’s husband, Joe’s family: Julian, 2 kids: Aidan and Luca; Lia (Paul), 3 kids: Roma, August and Maximo.
Molly had a deep appreciation of the natural world that sustained her and was her Spiritual connection. With her loving kindness and deep compassion, Molly held our family, knitted together, with close bonds. Her love of family and nature is deeply instilled in each of us! We miss her so much – already!
Molly’s Celebration of Life Memorial Service will be held at Forest Lawn Cemetery, graveside, on Monday, August 21st at 2:00 pm.
Dan Chase, Julia Chase, and Tina Little, August 2023
Link to 17-minute musical slide show “Molly-her Story” - https://youtu.be/lky9tRDvLhU
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Molly’s honor to
The Washington Trails Association (wta.org)
- Arrangements entrusted to Emmick Family Funeral Home -
Please direct Memorial Donations to the facility/charity listed in the obituary above