Local attorney and civil activist Helen Dee Hokom passed away unexpectedly in Colville on April 7. Dee was born in Nampa, Idaho on April 3, 1953 to W.W "Bud" Hokom and Ruth Lenore Welsh. She grew up on a small farm in nearby Kuna, Idaho and graduated from Kuna High School in 1971. She completed her undergraduate education at Idaho State Univer¬¨sity in 1975 with a degree in Political Science. From there, she worked as a sub¬¨stitute teacher and backpacked around Europe until enrolling in law school at the University of Idaho in 1977. She earned her Juris Doctor degree in 1980.
That same year upon graduating, Dee took her first choice of jobs when she signed on as a staff attorney with the Legal Services Corporation in Colville. When the Reagan budget cuts eliminated the Colville legal services office shortly afterward, Dee started her own practice, taking with her the skills she ac¬¨quired in family and entitlement law. Her future husband, Robert Simeone, joined her the following year and the two staked out their respective solo practices from that point for¬¨ward. She remained at the same location on Birch Avenue for the next 31 years.
The couple gave birth to their lovely daughters, Renee in 1986 and Alyson in 1990. They were the joys of her life. Dee adored the small daily moments and the huge celebrations in the par¬¨enting of her girls. She was particularly proud of their scholas¬¨tic and musical accomplishments, and their dedication to fear¬¨lessly following their hearts. Her daughters were usually the first topic of conversation when visiting with Dee. She was happy that she was able to work as her own boss so she could fulfill her ideals as both a lawyer and mother.
Her home and her many friends were always an important part of Dee‚Äôs active life. She loved Colville, her hometown of 34 years, and the sur¬¨rounding area. Among her interests was travel around the world with family, friends, as well as inde¬¨pendently. She had recently made arrangements to visit Hawaii and China this coming summer.
Dee was very passionate about justice and helping underprivi¬¨leged people who came into contact with the justice system. Those who worked with Dee in her capacity as an at¬¨torney knew her to be a zealous advocate, unafraid to take the hard cases brought into her office, and tireless in her pursuit of fairness. Her practice included many areas of law, but she spe¬¨cialized in domestic relations, criminal defense, and bank¬¨ruptcy. She was a member in good standing of the Washington State Bar Asso¬¨ciation as well and the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Washington.
Dee loved supporting a variety of organizations, working for a better world, both on local and national levels. She was an ac¬¨tive member of AAUW for most of her years in Colville. She was currently working to get signatures for the initiative 1329, call¬¨ing for lawmakers to require that when used officially, the word "people" refer to natural people and not corporate organiza¬¨tions. Dee also loved children. She sponsored two little girls in Nepal, and was happy to meet them on a recent trip there. Lately, she went through the process to receive a certificate to do respite care for foster children, giving foster parents a much needed break. She gave her undivided attention to these chil¬¨dren and donated her pay to charitable organizations.
In recent years she found great contentment and gratitude through her friends and through this community. She was at peace with her life. She was profoundly aware of her good for¬¨tune and wanted to share her love and enthusiasm of life with everyone she met. In honor of her legacy, she would want us to not take family and friends for granted; to be grateful for every minute of life, as each one is an invaluable gift; to practice gratitude; to be an informed voter; to be generous with hugs; and to be the change we wish to see in the world.
She is survived by her daughters Renee Simeone Hokom and Alyson Hokom Simeone; sister Mary Beth Hokom (partner Jim Pepperl); brothers James Wilson Hokom and Wayne Hokom (wife Tanya Wright).
The memorial and celebration of her life will be held on Satur¬¨day, April 19 at 1:00pm, in the Colville City Park pavilion, fol¬¨lowed by reception and pot-luck. Memorial contributions may be given to the Colville School District for Creative & Performing Arts. Please visit the online memorial and sign the guestbook at www.danekasfuneralchapel.com. Danekas Funeral Chapel & Crematory has been entrusted with the arrangements.