Teresa J. LaFreniere, age 66 of Bellingham, passed away February 13, 2010 after a courageous two year battle with brain cancer. She was born June 3, 1943 in Chehalis, WA to Norman and Dorothy (Hogan) Hocking.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Hector, in 2007; her parents; and brother Kenneth Hocking. Teresa is survived by her daughters Gina (Marc) Weigum of Bellevue and Diana (Michael) Freese of Seattle; grandsons Lucas and Tristan Weigum; brother John Hocking; sisters-in-law Sandi (Duane) Gish and Nyla LaFreniere; brothers-in-law Mort (Irene) LaFreniere, Fred (Bev) LaFreniere, and Maurice LaFreniere; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.
Teresa moved to Bellingham at the age of 5 with her family. She grew up playing outdoors with her two brothers -
riding bikes, swimming and playing basketball. She enjoyed camping, picnicking and berry picking with her cousins. She loved to read and do artwork – painting, drawing and sketching.
After high school, Teresa wanted to leave town and work in a big city. Her life goal was to work in an office or in education and to help people. She ended up taking a temporary job at Western Washington University and later decided that that was where she was meant to be. It was more about the job and the people than the location, she once said. WWU gave meaning to her life – an identity and a place of belonging. She started working in the Sociology/Anthropology Department for Dr. Angelo Anastasio, who later became a mentor and a dear friend. Over her 42 years at Western, Teresa worked in many departments. She retired in December 2007 as the Assistant to the Dean of Huxley College, just two weeks after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
Education was very important to Teresa. She often took one class at a time while working full-time. After many years of taking classes, she earned a Bachelor’s in Sociology and later a Master of Education – Student Personnel Administration. She was researching schools to earn her doctorate after retirement when she became ill.
Teresa had once said that it was an honor to work at WWU. She loved helping students, especially the foreign students. Students always shared their appreciation to Teresa over the years, coming back to campus to find her and share what she meant to them and their success, often ten or twenty years later.
She was also an incredible mother to her two daughters. She was an inspiring, strong and positive person. She was a great example of how to be a caring and generous person to others. She went to every sporting event, recital, and game her daughters were in – even as adults. She loved spending time with her family. Family was the most important thing to her. She traveled to Mexico, Hawaii and Europe with her two daughters, as well as many places around the US – soaking in everything.
Although she was becoming more ill, she loved spending time with her two young grandsons. It gave her great peace to see her daughters starting families of their own during her last few months of her life.
Ironically, the ambition in her high school yearbook stated, “To learn to take life as it is, not as I would like it to be.” She lived by this. She never complained about what challenge was handed to her. She kept a positive attitude during her treatment and three brain surgeries. She always had a smile on her face.
We would like to thank the staff at the Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at Swedish Hospital, especially Dr. Gregory Foltz, an amazing brain surgeon.
A special thanks to Aegis Assisted Living for their exceptional care, especially Abdallah Machano for the mutual respect and admiration he had with our mother. Their friendship was so important to her.
We would like to thank the friends and family who have expressed their love and support over the past couple of difficult years with phone calls, cards and visits. We’d like to especially thank our mom’s dear friend Ginny Lockwood for her tremendous support to us all.
Although our mother will be missed by so many, we know she is with our dad watching over us all.
Memorials may be made to Church of the Assumption, 2116 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham, WA 98225 or The Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at Swedish, sent to The Swedish Medical Center Foundation, 747 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122.
A Vigil will be held at Westford Funeral Home on Wednesday, February 17 at 7 PM. Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Church of the Assumption on Thursday, February 18 at 10:30 AM followed by a reception at the church. Burial will follow at Greenacres Cemetery.