Barkley Village bench dedicated to Squalicum senior who died in crash

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 28, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - After Hannah Dashiell died in a car crash on her way to work in January, her father saw purple bracelets everywhere he looked. It was her favorite color.

Students at Squalicum High School, where Hannah was a senior, donned the memorial bracelets and so did many around Bellingham who were touched by the death of a promising young woman. Hannah had been an honor roll student, senior class vice president and active in student activities and athletics.

"She was energetic and tenacious and made things happen," said her father, Dennis Dashiell. "She was a doer. She overcame obstacles and when she had plans for something, she put those plans into motion. She didn't put them on the back burner. It's a quality in her that we want to continue to live ourselves."

Friends have carried on her active spirit, raising money to buy and install a bench in Hannah's name in the gazebo park next to the Barkley Haggen, where Hannah worked. Hannah's family was at the park as the delicately curved bench - designed and built by Bellingham-based Architectural Elements - was dedicated on Saturday, June 28.

"We'll stop there and think about her. It'll be nice to know that will be there," Dennis said. "In the years to come, as other folks get on with their lives, it'll be nice to know there's a place for people to come back and remember Hannah."

Dennis hopes the bench will be a place for people to mark Hannah's life and the good she put into the world. A plaque on the bench reads "Live with love," and "She turned her can'ts into cans and her dreams into plans," two quotes that capture the way Hannah lived.

"We hope that when people think about Hannah, they think to be kind and funny and smart and take action to do things that they're passionate about," he said.

Hannah was killed Jan. 5 when her light blue 1970 Volkswagen Beetle slid on the icy Barkley Boulevard hill and struck an oncoming car near Brandywine Way. The crash was ruled accidental and Hannah was not at fault, according to Bellingham police.

Life since Hannah's sudden death hasn't been easy on her family, but seeing people continue her good deeds - including putting on a charity walk to support brain cancer research, a project she had been working on before she died - has been a testament to the kind of person she was.

"We're getting by. It's hard," Dennis said. "We think about her every day and just try to figure out how to start piecing together a way to live and not be sad."

SCHOLARSHIP FUND IN HANNAH'S NAME

A memorial fund has been set up in Hannah Dashiell's name to provide scholarships to local high school girls who are pursuing degrees in medicine. She had plans to become a doctor. People can donate to the Hannah Dashiell Memorial Fund through the Whatcom Community Foundation at whatcomcf.org or at People's Bank locations.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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