Our much-loved Becky passed away, peacefully, a little after midnight on December 11, 2023. Her family was with her in the preceding days and up until the end, and she was peaceful and free from pain.
Becky was born June 29, 1950, in Pocatello, Idaho, the second child of James and Betty Howard. She grew up in Pocatello in a wonderful family, spending carefree days with neighborhood friends, family friends and a succession of family pets. She loved the mountains and the outdoors, and especially time spent at the family cabin on the Palisades Reservoir. She was an active, enthusiastic Girl Scout and member of the Pocatello United Methodist Church. She graduated from Pocatello High School and then from Idaho State University, with a degree in Special Education. At ISU she was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, where she made lifelong friends. Her first teaching job was in Idaho Falls, Idaho, where she met Jim Blake who was stationed near Idaho Falls with the Navy. After they wed, the Navy took Becky and Jim to Norfolk Virginia for several years. That is where their son Matthew was born. When Jim left the Navy, they spent several years in Pullman, Washington, then settled, more permanently, in Port Orchard, Washington. Their son, Nicholas, was born in nearby Bremerton. During those early years in Port Orchard, Becky spent time with her growing boys and taught, off and on, in the Port Orchard School District. After Becky and Jim divorced, she spent several years substitute teaching and eventually found her calling with the Holly Ridge Center, providing services for pre-school deaf children. She was fluent in American Sign Language and worked with children and their families to develop communication skills and prepare deaf children to enter school. This was work she loved, and her skills and experience made her very good at it. Becky’s affinity for small children was remarkable. They quickly saw in her a trustworthy ally, who listened to them, respected them, and was interested in what they had to say.
Becky loved reading, needlework of all kinds and music. She found a caring community and many friends in the Port Orchard United Methodist Church, where she joyfully shared her creative talents, sang in the Praise Team, was a tutor and coordinator of a tutoring and mentoring program for Middle School students, served on the visual arts team for the church and supported their many good works.
She was preceded in death by her parents, James Howard and Betty Van Valkinburg Howard. She leaves behind her sons, Matthew and Nicholas Blake, sister Terry Howard Grant and brother-in-law Ray; brother Steve Howard and sister-in-law Brenda; nieces, nephews, and cousins, many dear friends, including lifelong friends Leslie Smith Toevs, Kathleen Smith Meadows and Nancy Smith Herrick, as well as her beloved cat, Teddy.
Friends describe Becky as “kind, gentle, funny, empathetic, and courageous.” She was very loved by her family and friends, and she loved us all in return. She made a difference in many lives and will be missed and remembered.
Memorial donations in Becky’s name may be made to the Holly Ridge Center, Paws of Bremerton, a no-kill cat shelter, or the Port Orchard United Methodist Church.
A memorial service will take place on January 14, 2024, at 3 pm at the Port Orchard United Methodist Church.