"There are no
ordinary people..."
C. S. Lewis

Denice Lianne Hougen

Date of Birth: 
August 28, 1953
Date of Death: 
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Sedro Woolley, Washington
Service Information: 
A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, February 17th, beginning at 2 pm, at the Boathouse in Zuanich Park, Squalicum Harbor, followed by an optional potluck meal and music.

Denice Lianne (Ambrose) Hougen, 59, died at home with her husband and cats by her side on January 29th, 2013 from complications of ALS (Lou Gerhig's Disease).

Born August 28, 1953 to Walter "Bud" and Charlene (Caul) Ambrose, she was a lifelong resident of Whatcom County, growing up outside Wickersham in the South Fork Valley. A 1971 graduate of Mt. Baker High School, where she also met her future husband Joe, she moved to Bellingham to complete bookkeeping training at Bellingham Technical School. The next eight years were spent working for local businesses while also attending Western Washington University (WWU) part time in pursuit of a biology degree.

In 1980 she moved to a position at WWU, partly to simplify mixing work and schooling, with a switch in major to business. Within the first year of employment she joined the staff of the Chemistry Dept and remained there until disability retirement at the end of 2011, the last 25 years as the department manager. She also finally managed to graduate, with honors, in 1985, followed by an MBA in 1988.

Denice often spoke of the enjoyment of being able to practice her vocation (business) in her area of avocation (science) and also the convenience of performing her volunteer work--usually in service of students--in the department. Although some didn't think she had a life away from Western, Denice enjoyed attending as many activities as possible of nieces and nephews and often had her nose stuck in a book. She also enjoyed going on garden outings with friends Swanny and Yvonne and traveling with
her husband, family and friends.

She is survived by her husband of 40 years, Joe Hougen, her mom Charlene Ambrose, brothers Darrell and Craige Ambrose, brother-in-law Jeff Hougen, sisters-in-law Lisa Jager (Dave) and Jodi Swanson (Steven Jager), nieces and nephews Jacob Ambrose (Amy Kingen), Adam Dalenius, Stephanie Ambrose (Bryant Gerfin), Sarah Dalenius (Isaac Ervin), Kevin Hougen, Alex Ambrose, Eric Ambrose (Kristine Tomlinson), Brian Hougen and Hailey Ambrose, grand nephews Riley Ambrose and Thaddeus Demetrio, aunt Joyce Ambrose, numerous Ambrose and Caul cousins, many friends, including the Anthony-Cahills, the entire Strand Clan and her WWU Chem Dept family. Also beloved cats, Leo and

Preceded in death by her dad Bud, uncle Lawrence Ambrose, aunt Virginia Caul Veerkamp, mother-in-law Anne Hougen, grandparents Bob and Florence Caul, Cliff and Bessie Ambrose Stewart.

Special thanks to Mary Rebar, ALS Org Evergreen Chapter, and to Whatcom Hospice staff.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, February 17th, beginning at 2 pm, at the Boathouse in Zuanich Park, Squalicum Harbor, followed by an optional potluck meal and music.

Memorials suggested to either the ALS Org Evergreen Chapter, or to Whatcom Hospice Foundation, or to the Western Foundation Chemistry Scholarship Fund.

The Denice (Ambrose) Hougen Chemistry endowment has been established at Western Washington University Foundation by Denice’s family. To make a contribution to this fund, which will provide scholarships or summer research fellowships to students in the Chemistry department; Make checks payable to WWU Foundation and note “Denice (Ambrose) Hougen Chemistry endowment” on the memo line and mail to:

WWU Foundation
516 High Street, OM 430
Bellingham, WA 98225-9034

Gifts may also be made online at: www.wwu.edu/give

Guestbook Entries

Submitted by Rosalyn Strand on

Your love always shone through; you carry me on the wings of that love, Niecey. You're tucked inside my heart. Thank you for sharing the past 48 years with me. It was a marvelous ride.

Submitted by Garry Kennedy on

Sorry to have heard the news. However the good memories will prevail In our minds and hearts.
I just remember the 30th yr, class reunion. Joe thanks for the Alaskian Salmon and Denice wondering
around to make sure everything was just right.. Memories..

Submitted by Charles Bowhay on

Cheryl and I are so sorry for your loss...Denice was a wonderful person. Always so loving and caring. Praying for you.

Submitted by Michael Bowhay on

I'm sorry for your loss Joe. She was always a bright spot in school. Glad to hear she of her life's successes. We'll be thinking of you and her brothers in the days to come.

Submitted by Peter Stitt on

Joe and family, Please accept my condolences on the passing of Denice. I remember Denice was in my mother's classes. She was always a positive person. My prayers are that God will comfort you. God bless you all. Peter Stitt

Submitted by Nichole Nathan on

Although you were my cousin, I loved you like my Aunty. I will miss you everyday. I hold with pride my middle name and will teach my daughter of your kindness. You inspired me to be brave and lead the life I dreamed of. You encouraged me to seek out adventure but to call home so that family would be at the center. I am thankful to God for your life for it helped to shape my own. Rest in peace and in the arms of our loving Father in Heaven.

Submitted by Gretchen Long on

Joe my heart is with you and your family. Denice and I shared a lot of giggles and fun - she always tried to keep me on the straight and narrow. She even succeeded occasionally, but more often we strayed off that path together, partners in good natured crime. I hold those memories of Denice close to my heart and will always cherish her presence in my life.

Submitted by Clint Spiegel on

Denice was an amazing person, and one of my first friends when I moved to Bellingham. As an example of her caring and friendship, she wanted to comfort me when I first talked to her about her ALS. It was great to have the opportunity to get to know her, and I'm forever thankful that we were friends.

Submitted by John & Ginny Pe... on

Always a cheerful face. Denice, you have brightened the days of uncounted individuals. You made the world a better place. For many years in various ways you served as the soul of the chemistry department. I am grateful to have known you. Rest in Peace my friend. Condolences to Joe and family who have lost the most. Our hearts are with you always.

Submitted by Cathy Holmes on

Joe, my condolences to you, your's and Denice's families as well are your joint wide circle of friends. When I think of Denice and the love and kindness she inspired, I am reminded of a quote by a woman who had lost her sister: "The world just lost a Smithsonian library that can never be replaced." Denice so embodied that and she was generous in all forms of the word. Even though we weren't in touch through most of our adult lives, I felt like I had been because of my friendship with Rosalyn. As I have said before, so many of us shared a common experience at Mt. Baker HS shaped by our unique landscape, which is a rarity among most people. I never knew Denice to say an unkind word about anyone. Working on the class reunion in 2011 was simply a joy to become, again, part of our special relationships. I know the two of you faced ALS head on and loved each other to it's conclusion. I want you to know that, in my mind, Denice had ALS, she was not ALS, nor was it the totality of her in any way. I wish you continued strength and courage in the coming months and that you will surround yourself with love from everyone the two of you touched. And to Denice: You have inspired me to let go of my fears and when I look at the reflection of the sunlight on Bellingham Bay, I will be just a little warmer knowing that you are gracing us again with your presence.

Submitted by Truc Thon on

Joe, so sorry for your lost. My heart is with you and Denice's family. Denice was a very special person who was kind, caring and thoughtful. Her smile and sincere will be with me forever.

Submitted by Dave Jager on

Dear Joe and Family,It's always hard to know what to say at a time like this as mere words seem not enough.I am so sorry for your loss .The honor of knowing Denice and witnessing her kindness and gentle ways will stay with me forever.She made a difference in this world and left it a better place than she found it.

Submitted by Kathy Brady on

I am so sorry to hear of Denice's passing. She was a really wonderful person and added so much to so many lives that she touched. I'm so glad that she touched mine.

Submitted by Kathy Brady on

I am so sorry to hear of Denice's passing. She was a really wonderful person and added so much to so many lives that she touched. I'm so glad that she touched mine.

Submitted by Mary on

I am so sorry for your loss. May you draw comfort by reflecting on the Bible's promise of a resurrection. God yearns to bring back to life on earth those who have died. (Job 14:14,15; John 5:28,29) Look forward to the day when you can hold and embrace Denice once again. May you too find comfort through prayer.

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