Frances Arlene "Arlene" Hilbrands
1944 - 2020
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June 2, 1944 ˜ March 30, 2020

On March 30, 2020, Arlene Hilbrands passed away to accompany the Angels in Heaven. She is survived by her husband, John Hilbrands; her only child, Jolene; and her only grandson, Sage.
Arlene was welcomed into the world at the Kaiser Shipyard Hospital on June 2nd, 1944. Arlene was the daughter of Jack and Olive Terrell Norris. She grew up in the Rosemere neighborhood in Vancouver, Washington where she enjoyed many childhood memories of riding her bike, playing baseball, and exploring the creek with dear neighborhood friends. Her first congregation was at the Open Door Rescue Mission in Portland, Oregon. As a child, Arlene attended Washington Elementary for her primary years. Arlene then attended Vancouver Christan, where her mother Olive taught, from grade 4 to the completion of her elementary schooling. Arlene attended Portland Christian High School where she graduated in 1962.
Arlene found great joy in music. She learned to play the piano at the age of 13 and continued to play in school and church settings in Oregon and Washington for the following 60 years.
Following high school, Arlene attended Cascade College 1962-1964, Clark College dates 1965-1966, Western Washington University 1968-1969, and then completed her degree at Portland State University in 1971.
In May of 1969, Arlene Norris celebrated her marriage to John F. Hilbrands. They enjoyed many trips to the coast together and visiting lighthouses. They both had fond memories of family vacations to Disneyland together. They had been married for 51 years at the time of her death. Arlene was a very loving mother and grandmother who always put her children first. She will be missed for her kind and comforting ways.
Arlene had served her community in work and volunteer service throughout her life. She was a camp counselor for the YMCA at Camp Collins, an architectural secretary for Donald H. Lingren AIA (1964 - 1966), School Secretary at Alder Elementary School (1966 - 1968) which she then followed with a robust career in teaching at Alder Elementary School for an additional 28 years. Her investment into quality education and social justice in the classroom was a benevolent strength that many benefited from over the years. She was a strong advocate for bilingual education and literacy for primary students.
Additionally, Arlene served her fellow educators by participating in bargaining teams to improve the lives of teachers and learners in the Reynolds School District. During Arlene’s retirement years, she sought out ways to continue to serve by contributing her grant writing services for Frontier Missions and playing the piano at church.
A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family recommends that donations be sent in honor of Arlene’s memory to George Fox University or Seattle Pacific University.
Please sign her guest book @

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Published in The Columbian on Apr. 19, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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5 entries
April 24, 2020
Thank you, John, for this wonderful tribute to your beautiful wife. She truly was a most gracious, godly, loving, talented, giving lady! We were privileged to know her for many years. We pray God will bless and comfort you in this difficult time.
Love and blessings! Art and Marge McIntosh
April 22, 2020
I started teaching at Alder in 1967 when Arlene was secretary and was there during her years as a teacher. She taught first grade and loved and cared so much for her students. She gave them such a positive start to their school years. My condolences to John and Jolene.
Allison Grewal
April 20, 2020
Arlene was a good friend during the years we taught at Alder School. She was a truly professional educator who always had the best interests of her students at heart. I enjoyed my friendship with John and Arlene.
April 20, 2020
John, Sorry to hear about your loss. Arlene was a wonderful person. Always positive. Jim and I went to the Christian School with Arlene and her Mom was our teacher. Great times. Praying for God's comfort at this time.
John Aarhus
April 19, 2020
Arlene was a loving person, always taking time to be an encourager. I will always be grateful how she and John opened their home to my children when they needed a place to live.
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