Town loses a leader

Coupeville lost a prominent resident who was known throughout the community for her preservation efforts.

Sally Hayton-Keeva died Thursday from a rare form of uterine cancer. She was 55.

A published author, Hayton-Keeva was known in the area for her conservation work. Since moving to Coupeville in 1997, she and her husband restored the Blower House near downtown Coupeville. Last year the Keevas purchased and restored the historic one-room schoolhouse that can be seen across from Grasser’s Lagoon in San de Fuca.

“She was by far my best friend,” said her husband, Joe, on Friday. “We did everything together.”

They had plans for the summer. They just purchased a boat and were planning to take time to island hop.

But then Sally was diagnosed with cancer less than two weeks ago.

She was also helping out with another preservation project. She was a member of the Friends of Krueger Farm, a community group that is raising money to preserve a 33-acre property on the west side of town that was once a farm.

“She had an incredible passion for doing those things,” said Tom Sterling, a Coupeville resident who worked with Sally in connection with the Friends of Krueger Farm. “She had a long history of that.”

Joe said his wife wanted to preserve the farm because she was afraid it would open the door for developers to drastically change the landscape of the town.

“She was very protective of the island and Coupeville in particular,” said Joe, who has been married to Sally for 28 years.

In addition to her preservation work, she was an author who has several books to her credit, including “Ancestral Walls: Old Abodes of Central Whidbey Island,” published last year.

Hayton-Keeva was born in Mount Vernon in 1955, but was raised in Corona del Mar, Calif. After graduating from the University of California, Irvine, she performed in plays in Australia, recorded audio tapes, wrote freelance advertising copy, worked as a ghostwriter, and wrote and recorded an audio book about heroes and heroines of the American Revolution, according to her Web site,

She married Joe in 1976 and moved to the San Francisco Bay area where she wrote short stories and book reviews for the San Francisco Chronicle, as well as a humorous column for the Sonoma Index Tribune.

Joe added that people will always remember Sally’s sense of humor.

“If we would walk into a store, she’d make people laugh. She was always cracking jokes,” Joe said.

Joe and Sally moved to Montana in 1992 where they owned a ranch in the Flathead Valley. While staying in Montana, they would negotiate conservation easements for ranches to help preserve the area.

They moved to Coupeville on a full-time basis and lived in a house that was originally built in the 1850s.

Sally is survived by her husband Joe and son, Blake Hinderaker.

Interment is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 21 at Coupeville’s Sunnyside Cemetery with a wake to follow at the San de Fuca schoolhouse.

Joe added that he’s been overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support since Sally’s death.

You can reach News-Times reporter Nathan Whalen at or call 675-6611.

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