DeLona Kurtz died July 26, 2018 in Seattle at the age of 79.
DeLona Irene Fassero was born June 22, 1939 in Ellensburg to Mary (Gioletti) and Peter Fassero. She was raised in Cle Elum, where she was a Camp Fire Girl, a cheerleader and worked in her father’s Economy Grocery Store. She was surrounded by extended family growing up with grandparents, uncles, aunts and upstairs neighbors all living nearby and loving her.
She was smart as a whip and excelled in school. When she was accepted to Washington State University, she arranged for rides to Pullman with Donald John Kurtz and they soon started dating. She graduated with honors with a major in foods and nutrition.
On June 24, 1961, she and Don were married. They moved to Eugene, Oregon where their daughters Kara and Kristine were born.
In 1969, new opportunities brought them to San Mateo, California where they would live for almost 50 years interrupted only by a two-year stint in Salt Lake City, Utah. While in San Mateo, Dee worked nearly 30 years for the Child Care Coordinating Council of San Mateo County in the area of early childhood development — writing grants and overseeing the food program. In 2009, Dee and Don retired to Bainbridge Island to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
Dee was an avid volunteer. In San Mateo, she was a Camp Fire Girl leader, school volunteer and Junior League member. On Bainbridge, she was active in her church, St. Vincent de Paul, Island Volunteer Caregivers and Bainbridge Community Foundation. Like her mother, she was a lifetime PEO member.
Travel gave her energy and Dee and Don traveled the world, always returning to their beloved Italy every few years. She especially loved the planning — she saved articles from travel magazines for months and her favorite books were about travel and food. Their home is full of art, her special nativity sets, collected on many trips, and special memories from their adventures.
Dee made friends like nobody else. She was the center of the incredibly large and diverse network of love that surrounds our family — the connector and the connection. She welcomed everyone into her home with a meal, a bed, good conversation, a drink, a laugh. It was always OK to stop by unannounced — she would simply roll you into whatever plans were in place that day. She was that friend, neighbor, family member who welcomed you unconditionally and expected absolutely nothing back.
And the parties! Whether it was an unplanned weeknight dinner for twenty, beautiful appetizers while watching the sunset, or an event for 500 — Dee was game. Her Super Bowl parties, annual Christmas Coffees for the ladies, pig roasts and bagna cauda feeds were epoch; and her tables — even for the simplest meal — were so incredibly beautiful. Without Dee, macaroni salad, cream puffs and berry pie will never be the same.
Dee simply made you feel important in the world. She kept up on you, put plans in place for the next trip, party, dinner, event. She sent you articles on the things you cared about and slipped you a $20 bill if you were a kid. She asked about you, your family and your friends. She sent letters when you were away, recommendations for the places you were traveling, told you she was thinking of you via phone or text, added positive comments on your Facebook feed, connected you to others that she thought you would enjoy. She never forgot a name, birthday or anniversary. She made it her job to make your life a little fuller.
She is survived by her husband of 57 years, Donald Kurtz; daughter Kara Urnes (Mark) of Port Angeles; daughter Kris Kelsay (Todd) of Seattle; brother Donn Fassero (Melodee) of Modesto. She was a major part of her four grandchildren’s lives: Connor Kelsay (Bonnie), Carter John Urnes, Cole Urnes and Shea Kelsay. She will also be missed by her many friends and extended family.
At 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 7, a mass will be held at St. Cecelia’s Catholic Church on Bainbridge Island, followed by a celebration of her life at Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, starting at 4:30 p.m.
A graveside service will be held at the Cle Elum Cemetery at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8 with a simple reception following the service at the St. John the Baptist Church social hall.
Donations in her honor might go to one of Dee’s volunteer organizations or one that you love.