Paula Rinta Stewart, of Anacortes, Washington, died Oct. 12, 2023, after a long illness. She was 83.
Paula was born on Aug. 5, 1940, in Portland, Oregon, the eldest daughter of Rev. Jaakko Rinta and Elsie Wayrynen. She graduated from Ridgefield High School in Ridgefield, Washington, in 1958 and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford University in 1962.
Through her early adulthood, she lived in Boston, Washington, D.C., Germany, Venezuela and Switzerland, before returning to Washington state. Throughout her career in occupational safety and health, she worked for the U.S. Department of Labor in various capacities and served in Gov. John Spellman’s administration as a member of his staff and as deputy director of the Department of Labor and Industries. She finished her working years at the Weyerhaeuser Corporation, most recently as director of safety, health, and statutory benefits, retiring in 2003 to her beloved home in Bellevue, Washington.
Upon retirement, Paula served on board for the Girl Scouts, the Bellevue Art Museum and the Washington Environmental Council. She traveled extensively with family and friends and enjoyed being home with her dogs and her garden.
Bilingual in Finnish from childhood, Paula remained fiercely proud of her Finnish heritage and embodied that combination of determination and intestinal fortitude called “sisu,” all while remaining a consummate mother, cook and hostess, values and skills she passed on to her children and grandchildren.
Survivors include her sons, Andy (Kristin) and Fritz, siblings, Maila (Jim), Pamela, and Jim (Marcia), grandchildren, Claire, Colin (Dani), Grace, and Esmé, and a large extended family in the U.S. and Finland. Nothing was more important to her than her family. She will be deeply and dearly missed.
At the request of the deceased, there will be no memorial service. Memories and condolences can be shared at www.evanschapel.com/obituary/paula-stewart Donations in Paula’s name may be made to Hospice of the Northwest (www.hospicenw.org).