Our world became smaller when Mollee Lou Fowler Hecht, 94, beloved mother, grandmother, aunt, and special friend died April 30 in Boise, Idaho. A vibrant and prolific writer of thousands of letters since her early teens, she embraced life fully. She was a lover of books, reading, gardening, and the outdoors. Her kitchen was always open: "Mama Mollee's Right-on Beanery."
Mollee died from the final complications of an inoperable illness which struck late December, 2018. This was described by her primary physician as an "impossible" medical situation, and the strong-willed dame fought it for sixteen months until she was finally overcome.
Fittingly, in 2002, she was recognized a "Woman of Wisdom" by the Women Honoring Women committee of Sandpoint. A WOW is "65 years or older, demonstrates vision, collaboration, leadership, grace, courage, integrity and a love of learning through the pursuit of knowledge. She shows a commitment to and has had a positive impact on the Bonner County community. She is an inspiration to others and an example for future generations of women.”
Mollee was a competitive runner into her 70s, as well as a downhill and cross-country skier. She was an avid hiker, and ascended Mt. Borah, Idaho's highest peak, at the age of 52. Her athletic career was eventually curtailed by well-worn knees.
Her view of the world begat three generations of smart alecks and continued to the end. While in the hospital, Mollee was asked who the president was and she responded, "I don't remember his name, but no one likes him."
Mollee's children include Doran and Chris Key of Ketchum; Justine Hecht LeGrue, Boise; Gretchen Hecht and Robert Friedman, Boise; James Christopher Hecht and Cheyanna Whittier, Sandpoint; and John C. Hecht III, Boise. Grandchildren (and spouses) include Heidi Hecht of Boise; Sarah (James) Warner, Boise; and Zachary Friedman, Boise. Others are Grey (Nicoya) Hecht, Talent, Ore.; Sean (Jenny) Hecht, Santa Barbara; Marya Hecht, Ketchum; Allyssa Hecht, San Diego; Amara Hecht (Bill Holdeman), Ketchum; and Grey (Sterling) Whittier, Hope, Idaho. She has nine great-grandchildren. She was a second mother to Evan Lister Stelma (Bellevue) and many others. She has adoring nephews and nieces too numerous to list. Her third son, Nicholas, died in 1965.
Mollee moved to Boise sixteen years ago, to be near three of her children and still not-so-far from the other two. A certified University of Idaho Extension "Master Gardener," she remained physically active, filling her yard (and Justine's next door) with flowers, bushes, trees, and vegetables. Until her illness, she walked at least a mile a day, weather allowing. This past summer, with no more garden space to fill, she watched the seasonal blooming of the flowers and trees from her "backyard living-room" and this year was able to welcome the blossoms of spring. She was a member of Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel (CABI) and until her illness was an active Mah Jong player with "the girls."
Mollee was born July 2, 1925 in Tacoma, Wash., a proud descendent of eastern Washington pioneers. She was the daughter of James Goodwin Fowler and Mildred Belle Faulkner Fowler, and had three siblings: Jim, Betty, and Donald. Her early years were spent on the verdant and lush Lakeside Country Club on American Lake in Lakewood, Wash., a 21-home, family-friendly, coöp community with swimming and tennis always available, woods nearby, and where children were treasured and watched over. She graduated from Clover Park High School in 1942. She attended Washington State College in Pullman for two years and took pride in being one of the first woman criminology majors in the country.
During World War II and as a civilian, Mollee drove a 6x6 truck for the U.S. Army's nearby Fort Lewis. She then enlisted in the the U.S. Navy Reserve on her twentieth birthday and had orders to active duty, but the the war ended the week before her bootcamp was to begin and was honorably discharged August 28, 1945.
Mollee moved to Los Angeles in 1945, lived in an all-woman boarding house and attended fashion school while working in I. Magnin's Beverly Hills wedding shop. She was introduced to John C. Hecht, Jr. and they married in 1946 and had six children. In 1959, the family moved to Piedmont, Calif. and into a house – "40 Crocker" – that was large enough for the whole family and situated on a block with (probably) twenty other kids. Mollee and Jack were divorced in 1964. Mollee was involved in many activities, most notably the Art League of the East Bay and as a volunteer counselor at church camp. She introduced her kids to skiing in 1960, a sport she learned on the pre-lift slopes of Mt. Rainier, and from then on winter weekends were spent in Lake Tahoe in cabins rented with (usually) two or three other families. Extra kids were always welcome.
Following the death of her youngest son, Nicolas, in 1965, Mollee moved the family to Ketchum, Idaho. She worked such jobs as available in a small resort town with seasonal employment and was one of the first two waitresses at the "new" Pioneer Saloon, then a hangout for locals, now an international skiers' destination. In 1967, she was recruited to manage the Ex Libris Bookstore on the Sun Valley Mall, a life-changing opportunity. In 1971, she opened Mollee's Bookery in Ketchum, which became a cultural oasis for a broad swath of the community. The second-floor loft was given entirely to children's books. She was a second mother (or aunt) to many. When her children were of age and independent and following a summer working at Glacier Bay, Alaska with her dear friend Ellie Lister, she sold the store in 1976 and sought more adventures. The next summer was spent working in Camp Curry, Yosemite National Park.
In the late '70s, Mollee returned to Washington state and became a welcome employee at several bookstores, finally in Lakewood, where she was caregiver for her mother Mildred in the family home. In 1980, she joined Gretchen and Heidi in Sunnyvale, Calif., while Gretchen worked at Children's Hospital at Stanford; the three moved east to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Gretchen met and married Robert.
Mollee's home base was for two decades in Sandpoint, Idaho. Her second ten years there were spent outside of town on a five-acre farm, which had a large garden, potting shed, barn, pond, and eighty fruit trees. She was a deacon of the First Presbyterian Church and a member of its Bell Choir, and active in the Pend Oreille Arts Council, activities contributing to her Woman of Wisdom award.
An excellent and determined long-distance driver, from Sandpoint she traveled throughout the West, visiting family and many of the friends she had made over the years. For her 75th birthday, she was treated by Chris to a trek to the Bhutan Himalayas. In 2004, after one icy winter too many, she moved to Boise. Other travels included visits to Hawaii (many times), Mexico, Switzerland, Calgary, the Canadian Maritimes, Australia and New Zealand, and flower gardens in England (with her special niece, Joan Clawson).
She was preceded in death by her parents, youngest son Nicolas, brother James Fowler and his wife Georgia, sister Betty and her husband Carl "Smiley" Clawson, brother Donald Fowler, and niece Joan Clawson. Irene Fowler, her dear sister-in-law, continues to reside in Beaverton, Oregon.
Her life was celebrated on her 90th birthday on a steaming-hot day in Boise's Memorial Park. She was interred in a family plot at the historic Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise. A Celebration of Life will be held at a date to be determined later.
Donations in her memory would be welcomed by CABI, the Idaho Food Bank (Boise), the Interfaith Sanctuary (Boise), and the West Valley Humane Society (Caldwell, Idaho).
To send flowers to Mollee's family, please visit our floral store.