A strong advocate of our community and region, Freda Van Houten, died in Green Valley, Arizona on Sunday February 12th while greeting the dawn on this Earth. Freda was born on April 5, 1931, in Michigan. She met and married Marvin Van Houten in Michigan. They both received their degrees in education and shared their passions for teaching. They often shared how invigorating teaching was and spoke of the hopes and challenges presented in this field. They taught primarily at the elementary school and high school levels in Michigan and for many years in California. Freda often spoke about her students and the hope they offered as they shared their perspectives. She supported them to get involved and take action to instill change.
Taking action to bring about positive change was something that both Freda and Marv took to heart. Freda spoke proudly about helping the early chapters of N.O.W. (National Organization for Women) come to fruition in California in 1966. Through the years Freda and Marv participated in the work of various organizations that addressed equal rights, women’s rights, human rights, environmental issues, voting rights, peace and non-violence and more. Their involvement in community continued during the many years they lived in Flagstaff, AZ. Both Freda and Marv were strong supporters of the Democratic Party as they felt vital issues would be addressed via this organization. They also supported local businesses and were regular attendees of the Art Walks downtown. Naturally they were also members of Friends of Flagstaff’s Future-F3, knowing that they could rely on this organization to stay abreast of the matters that impacted the community, a community that they embraced fully.
Upon leaving Flagstaff they moved to Sequim, Washington and shortly after settled in Green Valley, AZ. Marv had cancer and sadly died in 2014 under Hospice Care while they lived at La Posada Assisted Living Community. Freda was by his side throughout. Freda described this as a difficult time in her life, yet also shared that she and Marv faced their mortality openly which she saw as a gift. She found solace with her daily walks (loved telling me about the javelinas, blossoms and quails she saw), the art classes she began to take (Zen Tangle captured her), and she continued with one of her primary loves – reading. We exchanged books regularly thanks to good old USPS. She was invited to join many Book Clubs at La Posada yet humorously said she didn’t join as she knew their book lists were different than her chosen book lists.
Freda’s health declined fairly quickly, she didn’t show signs of discomfort nor suffering and was able to speak up until about 5 days before she died. She received Hospice Services and the attentive care of the staff at La Posada. Being able to spend the last hours with her was a gift, memories were shared, movements acknowledged, eyes flittered open upon hearing me speak of her, Marv and their dear dog Mandy. Our visit ripples forward as does her love, and the reflections on the positive change and the meaningful difference that both she and Marv made while on this Earth. She and Mav expressed that they didn’t want to have memorials, yet we all can memorialize them with our actions to bring about the changes they committed their lives to. Onward, until the next dawn ~