Cover photo for Mary Noel Hanish's Obituary
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1948 Mary 2023

Mary Noel Hanish

December 25, 1948 — December 25, 2023

The Hanish and Rockstad families mourn the passing of Noel Hanish, who passed away unexpectedly, yet peacefully, on December 25, 2023.


Born Mary Noel Rockstad on December 25, 1948 in Seattle Washington, she was a model of service to others and a loving and supportive mother, grandmother, sister, cousin aunt, and great-aunt to dozens of family members.

Noel moved with her parents from Seattle to Bainbridge at the age of five. The fourth of ten children of Elmer and Rita Rockstad, Noel loved being among her enormous extended family. She was a proud Islander and Bainbridge High School alum, who enjoyed camping, hiking, sewing, cooking, gardening, voracious reading, spending time at the beach, and in her high school days, was a competitive show-jumper.


After high school, Noel pursued a career as a secretary and moved to Seattle, where she worked at the courthouse. In later years, she worked in roles of progressively greater responsibility in educational, pharmaceutical, and charitable industries.

Married to Michael Hanish in 1971, they were parents to three children. With her family, Noel traveled the world, living and working overseas in Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong, and in the United States in Omaha and St. Louis, before returning to the Pacific Northwest to retire. She loved to travel, and visited dozens of countries in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East during her life. She often visited old friends, including on her last overseas trip this Fall to visit dear friends and former neighbors now living in the United Kingdom and Switzerland.


In each place she lived, Noel immersed herself in her community as a volunteer and active participant in her local Catholic church. On Bainbridge, she volunteered constantly with Island Volunteer Caregivers, and served in a number of roles at St. Cecilia’s Parish, including as minister of the eucharist. She used her sewing skills for charity as well, making clothes for donation to impoverished communities overseas. Noel’s hospitality and sense of service to others was profound – for her whole life, she prioritized giving of herself and making each community she lived in a better place, spending countless hours as a volunteer helping those less mobile seniors in the area to run errands or get to medical appointments. A loving mother and grandmother, she took every opportunity to spend time with her four grandchildren, and delighted in sharing her love of nature, good food, and crafts with each of them.

Noel was preceded in death by her brothers John Rockstad, Michael Rockstad, and Matthew Rockstad. She is survived by her children Patrick Hanish (Evin), Daniel Hanish, and Carolyn Lee (Blandon); her grandchildren Berivan, Madison, Ethan, and Alan; her siblings Paul Rockstad (Connie), Susan Lester (John), Margaret Huling (Bob), Linda, Logan, Theresa Rockstad, Rita Elsberry (Bill), Patricia Lunde (Mark); and dozens of nieces and nephews, aunts, cousins, and their families.


A memorial service will be held on January 3, 2024 at 11:00am at St. Cecilia’s Parish on Bainbridge Island, with interment at Hillcrest Cemetery to follow.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Mary Noel Hanish, please visit our flower store.

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Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Pacific time)

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