Christian 08

Hilda Lee Broten

April 2, 1935 ~ December 2, 2021 (age 86)


With great sadness, we announce the loss of Hilda Lee Broten on December 2nd, 2021. Hilda passed peacefully from natural causes in the presence of her family at Cottesmore of Life Care Nursing Home in Gig Harbor, Washington.

Hilda will be remembered as a loving and devoted wife to her husband of 64 years Paul Broten, a caring mother to her three children Paul, Linda, and David Broten, and a tender grandmother to her many grandchildren.

On April 2nd, 1935, Hilda was born in Dyess, Arkansas. At an early age her parents and Hilda moved to Natches, Mississippi. Hilda grew up in Natches, graduated from Nathces High School and earned a degree in Journalism from the Mississippi State College for Women. Hilda was teaching at Biloxi Middle School in Biloxi, Mississippi when she married Paul on October 19th, 1957, who at the time was a Lieutenant in the Air Force. Over the next 22 years, Hilda traveled to many places with her Air Force husband including all the states that began with the letter “A”.

In 1976, Hilda and her family moved to Gig Harbor, Washington where she taught school at Kopachuck Middle School for over 30 years. Hilda loved adventure and enjoyed travelling to Europe to visist such places as the Vatican, Stonehenge, and other places of wonder.

Hilda is preceded in death by her parents Bernard and Thelma Gean, her brother Sonny Gean and sisters Charlotte McCreary and Mildred Kristolich.

A Viewing will be held from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Wednesday, December 8th, 2021. Funeral Services will be held at 10:00 AM on Thursday, December 9th, 2021, at Haven of Rest Funeral Home in Gig Harbor Washington. The Burial will take place at 12:30 PM on Thursday, December 9th, 2021, at Tahoma National Cemetery.


Remembering Hilda Lee

By Ouida

               When sisters are so close in age – a little over a year apart – there is so often contention and rivalry. And so it was with Hilda Lee and me. When we were barely out of toddlerhood, I found scissors and cut her lovely locks off, jealous because of my own straight hair. Of course, there was the time she fed our baby brother worms but I got the blame – and the spanking for it. We sniped for years, and she usually got the better of me.

               I remember that in high school she was like a magnet. She was very gregarious and collected friends easily. People gravitated to her; they seemed to want to be around her even when she was, frankly, bossy. She was always the leader. She ran things her way, but her personality was so engaging that they never minded. She was much like a benevolent dictator, and she always knew what she wanted to say or do, and she did it.

               And how she could wear clothes! A burlap sack would look like a Givenchy original. Just looking at the style she had with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt made the rest of the world look dowdy.

               We finally reached a truce when I came home to Natches during my first year at college. Somehow, we both wound up with a double-date, two total clods with no discernable IQs. They drove us to Vidalia, Louisiana, just across the Mississippi River, where there was a roadhouse that did not check IDs. They ordered a pitcher of beer. Hilda Lee refused that and ordered the two of us Brandy Alexanders – several of them. When we had exhausted their wallets, the sadder but perhaps wiser pair took us home.

               She was also sometimes deliberately impulsive. I know that sounds contradictory but let me give an example. The morning of my daughter’s wedding, Cielle and I were at the church arranging ribbons and greenery at the ends of the pews. Suddenly, someone said “Could y’all use a little help?” And there she was in New Orleans, without telling us she was coming. We were surprised and delighted, and I was deeply touched that she came.

               Years later she again came unexpectedly to see me when I had knee surgery. My husband suffered from dementia, my daughter was overseas, my son had an injured spine, and I was frankly concerned about how I would manage. And then my little sister shows up (my son had called her, I discovered later). She took charge (she usually did) and I had no worries. When an equipment repair man stalled me on the telephone, Hilda Lee took over, and he was there within the hour, probably not so much out of responsibility than just plain fear. The next morning my son unexpectedly found the grass was mown. Hilda Lee had met a neighbor during her morning walk and asked him to mow it to give his back a rest. Later that day she ordered him to go to St. Louis for the NCAA wrestling finals. She saw the tasks we faced and decided, on her own and quite correctly, that she could handle them for us.

               One more quality I came to admire in her was her regard for her family, like a mother bear, fierce, protective, and loving. She was, to one who knew her, a very special person. She was energetic, feisty, confident – a force of nature – yet equally tender and caring, and whose passing leaves a hole in our hearts.


"I remember her with a poem" by A. E. Houseman:


With rue my heart is laden

For golden friends I had,

For many a rose-lipt maiden

And many a lightfoot lad.


By brooks too broad for leaping

The lightfoot lads are laid;

The rose-lipt girls are sleeping

In fields where roses fade.

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Hilda Lee Broten, please visit our floral store.


December 8, 2021

10:00 AM to 1:00 PM
Haven of Rest Chapel
8503 Hwy 16 NW
Gig Harbor, WA 98332

Funeral Service
December 9, 2021

10:00 AM
Haven of Rest Chapel
8503 Hwy 16 NW
Gig Harbor, WA 98332

Graveside Service
December 9, 2021

12:30 PM
Tahoma National Cemetery
18600 SE 240th St
Kent, WA 98042

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