Sept. 30, 1968 to April 20, 2020
Rebecca Moon Hemingway died April 20, 2020, in Seattle, Wash., after a nearly six-and-a-half-year battle with non-small cell lung cancer. She was surrounded by her beloved daughters and father.
In her usual style, Becca fought cancer fiercely and intelligently, researching her condition until she could debate with her doctors, advocating for her own preferred treatment plans. She had her whole genome sequenced, and as a result knew which experimental trials might prolong her life. She found herself proven right in virtually every case. This fastidious hard work not only enabled her to survive far beyond her original prognosis, it was also quintessentially Becca.
A devoted mother and cherished daughter, sister and friend, Becca was known to those around her as a pillar of strength and wisdom. She was elegant, competitive, incredibly bright and imbued with deep compassion. Becca had an unparalleled work ethic, and her perfectionism was obvious in every project she took on. She was always in charge, whether she was raising her daughters, running a capital campaign, chairing an event, navigating a long hike or, especially, when she was behind the wheel. Her humor was infectious, her sense of adventure palpable and her kindness consistent.
Becca was born in Stamford, Conn., and spent most of her early years in Cumberland, Maine, more often than not, on horseback. A competitive equestrian, her favorite activity was three-day eventing. She was an outstanding student who graduated from Phillips Academy Andover in 1987. At Andover, she ran cross country and continued to ride. As the coach for her spring athletic course, Search and Rescue, said in her report card, “Someday, I hope Becca learns to let one of the boys get to the top of the mountain before her.” She never did.
Becca graduated from Yale University in 1991, a proud Piersonite, with a major in history. She unofficially minored in the card game hearts, a pursuit to which she and her closest friends devoted many happy hours.
Becca’s career path took her from New Haven to San Francisco, on to Las Vegas and finally to Sun Valley, Idaho, where she served for more than seven years as director of development for the Sun Valley Community School. During her tenure, Becca increased annual giving to the Sun Valley Community School by half a million dollars, was a key team player on two capital campaigns and helped to double the school’s endowment and reduce the school’s debt. Becca also launched an award-winning school magazine.
Active in the community, Becca was a volunteer and board member for many organizations in Sun Valley. She was especially proud of creating the wildly popular and successful fundraiser Battle of the Blades, which supported the Sun Valley Figure Skating Club and increased annual income of the club exponentially.
Despite her myriad accomplishments, Becca’s daughters, Emma and Alex, always came first. Becca could always be found rink-side during their skating lessons, in the audience during school productions and taking them on adventures near and far. She was an incredibly present, hands-on mother, and the girls were her pride and greatest source of joy.
Becca was happiest in the mountains, and the longer the hike, the better. She loved to loop mountain lake trails in one outing that most people considered camping trips. In the winter, she enjoyed skiing on Baldy with her daughters and friends. In the years that Becca survived far beyond her original cancer prognosis, she strived to live her life to the fullest. Accompanied by family and friends, she traveled to Africa, Austria, France, the Czech Republic, Scotland, Italy (twice), Spain and Mexico, among other places. Her main goal, however, was to live long enough to see both of her daughters off to college. Despite her disease, Becca kept hiking, climbing mountains and putting in extraordinary hours at work. As Becca used to say, “I’m the healthiest unhealthy person I know.”
Beloved daughter to Carol Hemingway and John Hemingway and stepdaughter to Sherry Hemingway, favorite aunt to Hailey, Joshua, Matthew and Brady, big sister to Laura and Jessica, and dear friend to so many, Becca leaves behind a very long legacy of lives she touched.
At Becca’s request, no traditional memorial services will be held. In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle in support of research on EGFR mutant non-small cell lung cancer (with a specification of being in Becca’s honor to route it correctly) or to the Sun Valley Community School outdoor program, which meant so much to her daughters.