Norada Shanafelt’s neighbor remembers her friend as a “quiet little lady” who was kind to children in their Edmonds cul-de-sac. A quilter who loved animals and nature, Shanafelt also had a giving spirit — a generosity that will make a difference for years to come.
A widow who died in 2017 at 73, Shanafelt left an estate that has gifted at least $2,225,000, providing support for nearly a dozen nonprofits plus Hickman Park and the Frances Anderson Center in Edmonds.
Amy Green, executive director of the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum in La Conner, was stunned when she learned the organization would receive more than $500,000 from Shanafelt’s estate.
“It was a real shock, a pleasant one,” Green said Tuesday.
Green, who never met or heard of Shanafelt, has known the gift was coming since late 2017. “We received it a couple weeks ago,” she said. The generous sum will mostly be invested in the museum’s endowment fund — which until now has been “very tiny,” Green said.
The quilt museum’s gift was one of four donations of at least $500,000 from Shanafelt’s estate, according to Cheryl Clarke, who acted as her neighbor’s personal representative as the estate was settled. James Feldman, managing partner of a Lynnwood law practice, was the attorney for the estate. The Edmonds woman had no children. Her husband William Shanafelt was 88 when he died in 2016.
On Friday, the city of Edmonds announced $50,000 in gifts from Shanafelt’s estate, $25,000 each to support Hickman Park and the Frances Anderson Center. “Norada Shanafelt was an inspiration to our community,” said Carrie Hite, director of the city’s parks and recreation department.
Those two gifts were two of a number of $25,000 donations from the estate, Clarke said. She listed these other $25,000 recipients: PCC Farmland Trust, the Edmonds Food Bank, Woodland Park Zoo, the Seattle Aquarium, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and two public television stations, KCTS in Seattle and KBTC in Tacoma.
Clarke said her neighbor was diagnosed with lung cancer while caring for her husband, a Korean War veteran who suffered from dementia. He died Nov. 24, 2016, and she died less than a year later, on Oct. 4, 2017.
“She was just a really good neighbor, a good friend,” Clarke said. “They lived very simply. They weren’t extravagant by any means.”
Clarke also donated items from the Shanafelt home to Goodwill, Deseret Industries and quilting organizations.
“She was very private, but always came out in the cul-de-sac to talk to the kids or grandkids,” said Clarke, 64. “She always had a quilt for a new baby or grandchild.”
Clarke said her neighbor participated in Quilters Anonymous, a Shoreline-based nonprofit. The group makes quilts as community service projects, donating them to hospitals for infants, to the elderly and to Evergreen Hospice.
“About a third of her home was quilting,” said Clarke, adding that some pieces were traditional patterns, others more exotic.
Both Shanafelt and her husband had worked for Boeing, Clarke said. After retirement, she had worked at the Calico Basket, once an Edmonds quilting shop.
“She would rescue cats from shelters. She had two cats of her own,” she said.
Shanafelt was also an avid reader. Clarke didn’t find many photos in the home, but there were index cards listing all the books her friend had read. Shanafelt also rated books on the Goodreads website, where her profile photo was a pink blossom.
The Shanafelts had lived in Edmonds’ Woodway Meadows neighborhood since the homes were built about 38 years ago, Clarke said.
“She loved nature. They had property in Omak where they spent time in summers,” Clarke said. “They like to travel, but nothing extravagant.”
Green said the quilt museum, in a house built in 1891, will use a portion of the gift to furnish a new education and conservation annex in leased space. The group’s annual fund-raiser nets $5,000 to $7,000, so the Shanafelt gift is an incredible boost, she added.
Shanafelt was organized, Clarke said, and made certain her wishes were known before she died.
Seeing how her friend left gifts to places and causes she cared about — a city park, a food bank, and animals — “sure gave me a lot of thoughts,” Clarke said. “I hope I would remember places near and dear to me before the day comes.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.