The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — After battling ovarian cancer for several months, Mary Colette (Hill) Wallace passed away peacefully at home early on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 2013.
An amazing person and woman, she learned to play piano, sing, sew, crochet, knit, do leatherwork, calligraphy and bookbinding. She loved music and books, enjoyed reading and writing, knitting and making art — fiber, mixed-media, painting, sketching, drawing, clay sculpting and architectural model building. She had a goofy and wry sense of humor, enjoyed PBS murder mysteries, old black and white movies, cooking and gardening TV shows and solving puzzles — crossword, Sudoku, jigsaw. Singing, her first passion, gave her joy much of her life.
Born Aug. 29, 1953, in Ft. Smith, Ark., to William Page and Lula Coleen Hill, their eldest daughter and second of five children, she grew up in and around Altus. Early on, she showed an aptitude for drawing, painting, writing and had an innate talent for music — playing piano at age 8, later singing in junior high glee club and high school and church choirs. A soprano, she sang at weddings, funerals, gave recitals and aspired to be an opera singer.
Graduating from Altus High School in 1971 with a vocal music scholarship to Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, she performed in choirs, musicals and operatic productions and also studied French, Italian, German and Latin. In 1973, she married, briefly attended North Texas State University School of Music in Denton, then divorced and in 1974 moved to Oklahoma City to continue her singing studies at Oklahoma City University. In college, she was a member of Mu Phi Epsilon.
Moving to New York City in 1975 to seek new life experiences, voice training and explore her artistic and handcraft talents, she lived in East Village, East Bronx and Rose Hill/Nomad areas and worked for a coffee distributor, an export company, retailers, Saks Fifth Avenue and, in a partnership, designed and sold handmade knitted-wear. Colette loved NYC — the experience, culture and environs. In 1982, severely injured in an automobile accident, an undiagnosed heart condition was discovered and she had a near-death experience that profoundly changed her. She returned to Altus and soon with a pacemaker implanted, feeling reborn and energized, embarked on a new life path — a spiritual journey exploring Western and Eastern beliefs, philosophies and religions, including Christianity. She also opened a bookbinding and restoration business.
In 1984, she moved to Norman to study philosophy at the University of Oklahoma. She worked as a student aide in the philosophy department’s academic office and assisted with conservation work at OU Library’s Western History Collection. She received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy in 1986. Introduced to architecture, she took classes and worked in the College of Architecture dean’s office and in the Architecture Library as a student aide. A class project introduced Colette to her future husband, an architect. In May 1989, she received a Bachelor of Architecture. In September, they married in Oklahoma City and then began her career working as a summer intern at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, for a land surveyor and for a Norman architect.
Moving to Bellevue, Wash., in 1990, she worked for several architects and a commercial aircraft interior design firm, joined Overlake Park Presbyterian Church and later Bellevue Presbyterian Church, singing in church choirs. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 1991 and later with early stage rheumatoid arthritis, with God’s help, she survived the cancer and was healed of the RA. In 1994, she gave a recital of classical piano, flute and vocal music with two fellow musicians, briefly taught singing to children and young adults at a performing arts academy and sang with the Seattle Choral Company performing Orff’s “Carmina Burana.”
In 1998, Colette founded The Wallace Research Group, providing architecture, human factors design, building material and technology, and market and competitive research services using online databases and internet search engines. She wrote several research and architecture-oriented articles for Searcher Magazine, reviewed books, critiqued manuscripts and self-published The WRG Newsletter online monthly (2000-2002). She was a member of the American Institute of Architects (associate), MENSA, UK Design Research Society, Association of Independent Information Professionals and a Certified Information Privacy Professional, and since 2004 has been listed in various versions and editions of Marquis’ Who’s Who. She formed and, from 2003-2013, led a yearly, nine-month, weekly Advanced Bible Study at Bellevue Presbyterian Church and, in 2010, became a member at University Presbyterian Church in Seattle.
Colette faced challenges, trials and tribulations during her life but persevered by always turning to her faith for strength and answers. She wanted to make a difference, to contribute to the best of her ability using her God-given gifts and talents — which she did. She is sorely and greatly missed, as a daughter, sister, spouse and loving wife, coworker and good friend.
Colette was preceded in death by her mother, Lula Colleen Hill.
She is survived by husband, Clay Wallace of Bellevue, Wash.; father, Page Hill of Springdale, Ark.; brothers Richard Hill of Texhoma and Dwight Hill of Plano, Texas; sisters Lynnette Kennelly of Altus and Janice Weyer of Santa Maria, Calif.; and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial and Celebration of Life service will be 2 p.m. PST Sunday, March 23, at Bellevue Presbyterian Church, 1717 Bellevue Way NE, Bellevue, WA 98004.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating, in Colette’s name, to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, ocrf.org; the American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer, cancer.org; or to an organization of your choice.
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