Snohomish child care provider recalled for her work to promote Snohomish

Snohomish resident Colleen Hill liked to stay busy. The owner of Country Kids Childcare in Snohomish for the past 14 years, Hill spent much of her time caring for children.

“Her role was basically anything that has to do with child care from feeding children to changing diapers and more,” said Sharon Walker, a friend who works at Country Kids Childcare. “What she did really well was playing with the children.”

Hill started her business so their 2-year-old son would be taken care of, her husband Paul Hill, said. Originally, she only wanted to keep the business open until their son turned 12.

“That would have been four years ago but there was always one more kid,” he said. “She always wanted to stay for one more kid’s last year.”

Hill died Oct. 29 at her home in Snohomish. She was 41.

She was born Sept. 11, 1968, to Linda and Tom Hjort of Snohomish. She is the mother of Jessica, 18, and Steven, 16, and sister of Jean Hjort.

Hill met his future wife at a party when he was 19 years old. They talked and soon she was routinely visiting him at the Monroe lumberyard where worked.

“She kind of stalked me for about a month, I guess,” he said. “She’d come to my work and bring me lunch.”

They married on July 22, 1990, in Everett. The couple lived for a short time in Monroe and in Everett but eventually settled down near her family’s homestead in Snohomish.

She was a fourth-generation resident of Snohomish who took pride in her family’s farming and logging history in the area, Hill said.

“She knew everybody from growing up here,” he said. “Staying in Snohomish was important to Colleen. She felt comfortable here and thought our kids would be comfortable here too.”

Her love for the city led her to become involved with the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce more than a decade ago. She served as president in 2006 and 2007 and was chairwoman of the Chamber in Action Legislative and Transportation Committee. She also served for several months as the chairwoman of the City’s Rails and Trails Committee.

She was involved in just about every event the Chamber organized said her friend Pam Osborne, the manager of the Snohomish Chamber of Commerce. She particularly enjoyed the Snohomish Groundfrog Day event and helped to locate frogs for the celebration for the past three years.

“She researched where to find the frogs,” Osborne said. “She ended up ordering frogs from New York not realizing they would come frozen and she had to thaw them back to life.”

Country Kids Childcare was one home to the frogs, Osborne added, and Hill always found other homes for the frogs after the event.

“The kids loved it and we loved it,” she said. “Colleen just had a heart as big as any you’d ever find.”

Although she wasn’t affiliated with a specific political party, Hill said but his wife spent a lot of time in Olympia where she worked hard to lobby for improvements to the Highway 9 corridor and bring up issues of child care facility owners to state legislators.

“I went to Olympia with Colleen a couple times and it was amazing to watch her,” Walker said. “She could walk the halls of Olympia and have everyone greet her and then go downtown and talk to the farmers. (Legislators) would call her and tell her things weren’t going too well and she would call in and say, ‘I’m not going to be into work today, I’m going to Olympia.’ ”

She was getting ready for the next legislative session, Hill added.

“When she had something to say, you were going to hear it,” he said.

She attended night school at Edmonds Community College once a week and earned a degree in early childhood learning in 2005.

Hill loved Starbucks coffee, talking on the phone and taking family vacations to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. She didn’t like celebrating her birthday and often wondered why more people don’t take the time to say ‘thank you’, Hill said.

She was always doing something for somebody, Walker said.

“If there was a cause she believed in she would do it and never complain,” she said. “Nothing would stop her. She went for what she wanted.”

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491, adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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