Petra Ann Tierney was born on Friday, February 27, 1942, at Seattle’s Maynard Hospital, which was located on First Hill. The family was firmly embedded in the Rainier Beach area on Petra’s mother’s side of the family. Grandfather Albert and Grandmother Martha (Ingebritsen) Johnsen, emigrated from Nesna, Norway in 1909 and established their two little girls, Petra (who Petra Ann was named after) and Amanda in Fragaria, Washington. Grandfather Albert was a halibut fisherman. They went on to have a family of ten children and eventually lived in the Rainier Beach area off Arrowsmith Avenue. Petra’s father, Joseph Michael Tierney, was from an Irish family of six kids and lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, attending St. Joseph’s Church. He quit school in the middle years to help his mother raise the family after his father died young. He would later help his mother-in-law with the family after her husband Albert died.
Ten uncles and aunts on her mother’s side had twenty-three kids and six uncles and an aunt on her father’s side had eight children…TWENTY-NINE cousins! They have a rich family history with stories and memories. She kept in contact with these cousins over the years, visiting, writing Christmas cards and talking over the phone.
Petra is predeceased by her brother-in-law, Charles Hoppe, and her nephew, Michael Hoppe. Petra is survived by her partner and spouse of many years, Linda O’Neal, and three children: Charles Scott (Michelle) with Irene and Alexandra; Joel (Sara) with Montique, Royce and BreLynne; and Daria (Alex) with Tru, Otis, Gideon and Cassius. Cassius was born on Petra’s 80th birthday creating a beautiful full circle. Montique (Brooke) gave her a great-granddaughter, named Kadence. Petra is, also, survived by her loving, steadfast sister Michaela Hoppe and her two nephews Brian and Alan; great-nephews, Joseph Hoppe (Teagan) with Evastyn; and Daniel Hoppe (Katie), along with their mother Carolyn Denend (Brad). Petra died at home, where she wanted, March 28 of this year at the age of 80.
Petra went all the way through school in the Rainier Beach area starting with Emerson Elementary, Sharples Junior High School and graduating from Franklin High School in 1960. She stayed in touch with school friends throughout all her years and they have been much support and fun to her. These twelve women have been friends for 62 years and more, traveling and getting together for reunions, trips, holiday gatherings and phone calls. She would like that they be added to the story here: Susie Stoffer Ackerman, Sharon Salvino, Charlene Lewis Adamson (deceased), Ann Finlayson Seamons, Bobbie Smith Maletta, Kathy Jones Youngren, Beth Beattie Chance, Liddy Krier Curtin, Jill Voelkker Grady, Susan Tooley Scott (deceased) and Karen Bennett Cook (deceased). After high school, she enrolled at the University of Oregon and attended for a while before taking off on an adventure to California: working as a roller-skating waitress and at a green stamp redemption center, spending days off in the sun and checking out the night life in Los Angeles before coming home to Seattle.
Petra was a magnificent, entertaining storyteller. She was always telling stories about her childhood, especially about her childhood friend, John, and how they built go-carts and sledded on the steep hills behind her house; or how she hung out with Violet and Chuck Clark at their house or at Clark Coal and Oil yard next door. She, also, spent time in the summers at Lake Wilderness: riding horses, swimming and, especially, boating in her own little boat with motor named Petra Ann. She managed to get in trouble many times by going over the posted speed limit. She, also, told stories of hopping the freight train as it slowed to go around a sharp corner and then getting off at a point where the train then slowed again. There were older guys that she managed to cajole into giving her fast rides in their cars or even an airplane.
Petra held a job with a record distributing company stocking stores with current LPs. She worked for an unscrupulous owner who did not follow through with a profit-sharing plan: she ended up suing to try to get back money. All came to naught, except she made a firm decision to never work for anyone ever again and work for herself. So, she then became one of the first few women agents working in the real estate business. She hung her license with Crawford and Conover, famous in the Wedgewood neighborhood. After a few years, she moved to William A. Bain on Lake Union and worked there for many years. After having a family, she moved to a smaller office, Village Real Estate in Magnolia, Western Real Estate and, finally, Madison Partners. Later, she worked with real estate referrals and did house painting, interior and exterior. In her last few years, she liked dog sitting and made many canine friends.
Petra bought and sold her own real estate, owning property in Capitol Hill, Northlake, Wallingford and Magnolia. She got together with a group of friends and bought a cabin up on the Skykomish River close to Index. Many ski weekends, company parties, birthday celebrations and summer hikes took place at the cabin. The cabin was a great get-away-place to putter, fix things and play games.
Because of her friendliness, those intimate with her got to hear many stories that wove the tapestry of her life. These ranged from childhood to high school, later adventures of young adulthood and beyond. Petra would strike up conversations anywhere, with friends, girlfriends, co-workers and random people.
Petra and I (Linda O’Neal) met because she placed an ad in the Seattle Weekly looking for new “friends to go to movies, walk on the beach and travel”. That sounded like a safe possibility to me and I answered, explaining that I had three children. I didn’t know that she had received more than a couple dozen responses and was in the process of meeting all of them, putting my letter off for weeks. We finally talked on the phone the first of June and met on Saturday, June 11, 1988. I moved in with Petra later in the summer with my three kids, a dog named Nita and two cats, named Tiger and Checkers. We made it all work and I think Petra enjoyed all the problem solving. We juggled sports practices and games, coached a couple years of girls’ basketball at the rec league, too. Unknown to me, Petra had sworn to other partners that she would never get together with a woman with kids.
I anointed Petra as the “queen of Jerry-Rig”. When it came to repairs, we rarely paid anyone who specialized in plumbing or roofing, for example, and I spent many afternoons and evenings on top of the roof, smearing roof patch or laying sheets of roofing material in an effort to stop the many recurring and never-ending leaks; or under the house hauling out driftwood and logs that had been thrown over during a high-tide, wind storm. The worst was patching broken water lines in the cold days of winter. We managed to add a little room in back by enclosing the porch and capture some of the back bedroom that became Scott’s room and later it was dubbed the computer room; now it has morphed into a closet. But we made the little beach house work for five people, with a little box of a bathroom. We ended up usually eating around the beautiful hatch cover coffee table and watching TV and when we managed to scrape-up firewood, there was a warm fire in winter. There were the occasional mudslides that required digging-out and wheelbarrowing out to the beach: not fun, but good exercise. Petra always came up with ideas to fix problems, especially when it came to the kids. The second bedroom became two by putting a faux wall down the middle, dividing the room equally with each having a closet, a skylight, a window and a door!
Some of Petra’s stories were about the wonderful trip she took back in the 1970s. She traveled all over Europe with friends for four months in a brand-new Volvo station wagon. That was hard to beat, but we did make several trips: driving down and back up the California coast, all over Vancouver Island, British Columbia and Alberta; then another major road trip taking in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah; and finally, a “cruise” on the Alaska Marine Highway, pitching a tent on the ferry deck and eating out of a cooler, all the way to Skagway, Juneau and out to Sitka.
Petra was thrilled with the grandchildren as they began to be part of the family, starting with little Montique and ending with little Cassius. They absolutely loved Petra who was the instigator of schemes and always had candy stashed away to secretly dole out. They called her Grammy and, later, Granny. They all loved me, but they LOVED Grammy Petra. She was particularly pleased that her last grandchild, Cassius, was born on her birthday.
The last few years were more mellow for Petra, calling family and friends more often. She shared some things over and over: one was that you had to keep your sense of humor, another was that she knew she was gay by age two and that she would never-ever have any kids. Then she felt so lucky to have met me, along with the kids and then the grandkids. The weekend before she died was so perfect, visiting the kids and grandkids. When we left, she said, “I sure hope I live long enough to see these kids grow up!” We listened to music on Sunday and I danced around the house making her laugh; we ended the evening watching the Academy Awards, which we never missed. She loved her beach house and with the challenges of weather, climate and the changing city, our family hopes to maintain it in her memory. We all loved Petra for similar reasons and will miss her sense of humor, her stories and her creative nature.
To share your memories and condolences of Petra with her Family and Friends, please visit her Tribute Wall, located above.