completely rachel

By human standards Rachel Macy should have lived another forty to fifty years. We are in the process of accepting her shortened life as part of our new reality. But for the purposes of this post I’m taking the approach that Rachel’s 41-year life was fully lived, complete.

Rachel the Kid

1-1973-Hush Little Baby

Shhhh. Hush Little Baby. Rachel’s parents raised her with great love and specific intentions that she grow up to be independent and successful.


Margaret-Rose held Rachel close in one of the original Snugli baby carriers. M-R and Mauri drove up to Evergreen, Colorado, to the home of its inventor to purchase it months before she was born.

3-1974-Pop and Rachel make faces and baskets

They did not want to raise her with cultural bias and made sure her toys included a basketball hoop and trucks, along with the typical dolls.

4-Scan 1 copy

She clearly embraced her femininity.

4a-Scan 1

The Macy family often sang for public gatherings. Around this time Mauri was invited to produce recordings for Wee Sing in their home studio. All three Macy children participated in those projects. Here’s what one of the Wee Sing originators wrote to Rachel about that time in her life:

“I have been listening to your voice on the many Wee Sing songs you recorded and reflect on those wonderful days with the Wee Singers. I picture you all with your headphones, then the excitement of ‘It’s a wrap!’ and off to Burgerville. It was great joy to see the relationships develop and the camaraderie of the choir as you all worked so hard to create such fun music for kids. Your voices continue to be shared in so many places around the world, and those young voices live on. Thank you for sharing that time of your life—your positive attitude, friendship, joy, determination, and your beautiful voice. You are a treasure.” — Susan Nipp

Rachel the Sister


Rachel adored her brothers and expressed that love in various ways.


Sometimes by borrowing their toothbrushes or pinching their necks! But as they grew older she would do anything for them and the reverse was true as well.

John's graduation

She valued family and prioritized attending important events.


Reception 058


Rachel the Student

Scan 5

Shortly after her mother’s death in 1988, Rachel was chosen to be the freshman homecoming princess. Family friend Debbie Rickey wrote to Rachel, remembering the drama around finding this homecoming dress. “You were so beautiful and every inch a princess!” (I look forward to hearing Debbie tell the whole story when she comes to host Rachel’s memorial celebration. See full information at the end.)


Her high school senior picture—1992.

12-2000-Rachel's Portland graduation

Graduating from Portland State in 2000 with her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.


Rachel sees me up in the bleachers at her George Fox hooding ceremony.

Rachel the Teacher

“Have you ever seen her teach?” Rachel’s friend Rebecca asked Mauri when he visited Philly last winter. “She’s a wonder, a force in the classroom!” Rachel was passionate about her profession; having to concede to her constant pain and give up teaching was one of her deepest sadnesses.

Rachel and Christine _Snapseed

Christine is hidden in the shadows over on the right in this purposely blurred photo of “Wonder…Do…Write,” their after-school science and writing club for second and third graders. She wrote this after Rachel moved to Oregon:

“I was instantly drawn to your passion and love for teaching. You had so many wonderful teaching ideas! At that time, I had no one to share with, and I was feeling a bit discouraged about the whole teaching thing. You were there to encourage me and to lift my spirits. You helped me realize what teaching was all about. With you, I found that there were others out there who loved teaching as much as I did and would be willing to sit for hours and talk about it. I knew I wasn’t alone!! We found an instant bond through teaching and the CCCS community, but I also found a kind, gentle, fun-loving new friend. We sat together at lunch, whether in the teacher’s lounge or in our classrooms, when the teacher’s lounge was way too loud! We talked about teaching, husbands, and the possibility of having children soon. We talked about how we can’t understand why our school does not recycle. We were determined to make that happen. We tried so HARD! Rachel, I’m not giving up the fight! CCCS will recycle! We are the official “tree huggers” of Christopher Columbus Charter School!”


Rachel and Christine birthed babies exactly one week apart! Here Rachel shows off Oscar to her class.

4D kids_Snapseed

She was a “chip off the old block.” I enjoy imagining her mom proudly reading some of these affirming comments shared by teachers and staff at Wissahickon:

“I’m so glad you had a few weeks with the kids here this year. They still remember joyfully the games you played and the ways you helped them. I hope you know and feel how loved you have been by so many children.” — Jenny

“Your genuine concern and care for the kids was obvious to see. I always wish that I could unearth as much tenderness and understanding as you showed.” — Tim

“You weather those crazy 4th graders with grace.” — Chantal

“Even at the hardest, most trying times you were always so smiley. You are such a sweet, kind, and wonderful person.” — Jenn

“You are inspirational and I wish to be more like you.” — Angelica “Thank you for the love and care you brought to your work and the emotional growth of your students. I have been honored to work alongside you.” — Amira

Rachel the Mom


Look at that cute “little” expectant belly! Rachel was so eager to be a mom!


Not long after that she held Oscar Kedric in a modern-day baby carrier, just as her mama did.


She joyfully shows off OK to her pop.


No caption necessary.


The stylish school teacher comes home to instruct her son.


Narrowing the choice of pictures of Rachel having fun with Oscar was a challenge.


Linked for life and eternity.

Rachel the Wife

In the last several weeks of Rachel’s life, many texts and e-mail passed between all of us. One unforgettable text from Rachel referred to her husband as “my dear, dear Johnny.” Her love for John and his love for her have always been evident and remained so to the finish.

kids in 1998or9

John began showing up in our photo albums around 15 years ago.

1999-John and Rachel copy


Rachel’s hair color often changed, but John remained her steady.


In 2002 they eloped to Puerto Rico,

NewlywedsJPG copy

then about a month later they threw a big wedding party in their backyard so we could all celebrate with them.

John&RachLOVE-JPG copy

Two years later, after Rachel completed her masters degree in education at George Fox, they packed a U-Haul and moved to Philadelphia. John started art school and waited tables at night, and Rachel started teaching.


They loved their urban life.


But life got better when Oscar joined the family.


He gave them “excuses” to expand their world.

John's 42nd

This picture was taken on June 18, 2014, just a year before they moved back to Oregon. They were on a vacation provided entirely by For Pete’s Sake, an organization that gives a break to people like Rachel who diligently work to keep cancer at bay.


While Rachel spent years doing all the right things to stay alive, John offered his loving support in any and every way he could. Days after her death he wrote:

“My best friend. Flashback: last fall, a rare breakfast out, just the two of us. Oscar had just started kindergarten and Rachel was beginning her second round of chemo. Her indomitable spirit is so plainly evident here. We had hopes of beating cancer and living our lives well into the future. Moving back to Oregon.

“We made it back to Oregon, only not on our terms. Rachel spent the last week and a half surrounded by family, rare Oregon sun in June and so much love and care. It rejuvenated her spirit and carried her peacefully into the night.

“I continue to be amazed by how many lives Rachel has touched. The love and outpouring of emotion is felt far and wide.

“Rachel is the most genuine person I know. She did everything with integrity, honesty, and compassion. We are all better people for knowing her.

“The void is vast and Oscar and I will miss her deeply, but we will carry her spirit with us in everything we do.”


Do you have a story about Rachel? Please share it in the comments! We’ll be compiling stories and memories at her memorial celebration on Sunday, July 19, at 3 p.m., at Newberg’s Chehalem Cultural Center. If you can’t come in person, we will gladly add yours to the collection, which we’ll eventually make into a book.

Rachel's obituary

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15 Responses to completely rachel

  1. Aneta Hullinger says:

    Well done Sherry. You did such a great job writing and including many photos. Sharing the beauty that she had and love of her students. Her family will miss her but the memories you are creating will be able to be reviewed often.

  2. Sharon Hodgkins says:

    A beautiful tribute/ celebration of Rachel. I met Rachel and John in Guatemala when we went there as volunteer teachers. From the moment I met her I knew she was a unique and special person and her smile always shone so brightly. Rachel had just found out she was pregnant with Oscar and must have been feeling a little sickly in the heat and dust of the village but I never saw her without a huge smile.
    We loved our time with the little kids and often talked about our teaching experiences back home in Philly and the UK. I knew that she loved teaching and would be a wonderful mum to Oscar. John and Rachel were clearly meant to be together and it was wonderful to see them enjoying this new experience.
    Back home in our respective countries we kept in touch and when I visited Philadelphia two years later, I arranged to meet the family- now complete with Oscar. A lovely meal in a Mexican restaurant and Oscar eating salsa with gusto. The next day John and Oscar took us on a tour of Philly art works and the “Love” series of murals. A very special time- however brief.
    Although I only knew Rachel for a short time, I feel privileged to have spent time with her and her wonderful family. She is one of those people who you know straight away is so special and her effect on the people around her has been magical. I know all her wonderful qualities will shine through in Oscar.
    I send my love to her family and friends and especially to John and Oscar.
    Sharon Hodgkins, Sheffield – England.

  3. Rebecca says:

    rachel the friend
    lazy afternoons, grass underfoot
    ice cream just because
    libras, we (you and me)
    beers at doobies, shared ‘special dinners’
    christmas sweet: gingerbread houses, gumdrop trim
    love and outrage and more love (education)
    “how are you?” asks smiling eyes
    fashion forward, has my back

  4. Di Murphy says:

    It’s a gift to all of us to be able to see these pictures, Sherry.

  5. Rebecca Macy says:

    I thank you through the tears. What a wonderful tribute.

  6. Sherry, and Mauri Macy, I thank you for sharing the wonderful story of Rachel’s beautiful life. Many images brought back some of the happiest times of my time spent in Newberg, Or. It seems like so long ago, yet like yesterday.

  7. Pam Beall says:

    Beautifully done, Sherry! Thanks for letting us see into Rachel’s life.

  8. Alex says:

    Hi, my name is Alex and I am in the “Wonder… Do.. Write” class picture from CCCS. I wanted you to know that I will forever remember Ms. Macy as she was one of my favorite teachers. She gave me the foundation I needed to write well and challenged me to always do my best.

  9. Mona Gettmann says:

    I spoke to the Newberg Friends Youth Group one night in 1991 or 92 — It was Rachel’s senior year. Your FIRST BORN.
    MINE had gone to college the previous year, and there was a lot I wished I had told him.
    I told this youth group: “You are right on the edge of leaving childhood . . and stepping into a world that expects you to be adults. You’ll be facing lots of choices — no doubt you already are. Choices only YOU can make. No one can make them for you. You are, or soon will be, questioning a lot of things you’ve been taught. And you will be questioning your beliefs. “Are they mine, or are they just my parent’s beliefs?” Is this thing called FAITH real? Do I have it , Or even do I want it?”

    After my talk –( My attempt to pass some “wisdom” to these teenagers . Ha! I thought! Knowing they mostly wanted to hang out with their friends.. pretty normal.) But, afterwards, Rachel came to me and said she was REALLY THERE! Doing all that thinking and pondering..
    I will always remember that moment of connection and how hopeful I felt that Rachel was solid .. as gold. She was a BEAUTY and I saw her as growing into a very fine, strong young woman.
    The photographs of her are amazing. Thank you for sharing them with so many who have past, and surely future, connections with this sweet young Champion!

  10. Donna says:

    Thank you for the photo chronology – glimpses into Rachel’s rich life. I met Rachel about 4.5 years ago at a block meeting. My sons and I had just moved to the 5300 block of Webster Ave. Rachel was the secretary and kept the meeting moving and focused. Otherwise, we only saw each other coming and going to school. (One cold, winter morning, the door of her red car would not shut. It creaked, but we were able to slam it shut and send her off!) I don’t remember when Rachel and I actually sat and talked – I know it was on her front steps. It was probably at a block clean-up in 2011. We found out we were both Philly teachers. We could commiserate – love learning with students but the reality of Philly school budgets took (takes) it tole. When she moved to a new school, she shared about a unit plan. It was great but it also took many, many hours to plan and prepare. Teachers who don’t implement “out of box” lessons know what it takes to plan – and follow through. Long nights reading and assessing assignments. It is those “little” successes that keep us going. As Rachel’s illness progressed, we spent more time together. I looked forward to our Friday nights – time with Oscar and time to talk. We had a lot more in common than teaching despite our age difference. (Rachel and my “baby” sister are the same age – my sister is exactly one month older than Rachel.) From the freedom of our 20s to Central America to a mutual friend to eloping to a summer of 2013 hysterectomy. (John and Rachel’s shared their special pizzas when I came home!) We shared stories of growing up, family, life / faith questions, and, again, teaching. I admired her focus on the positive – from her “good things” jar to turning conversations from her ever present illness to being hopeful. We celebrated Oscar’s progress in reading and she listened to my struggles with motivating teenagers at home and school. (Thank you, Rachel, for listening…. the topic remains between us but, thank you, thank you.) Rachel was always clear about her beliefs, generous and kind. Rachel had a full life – and leaves a fun, full, and formidable legacy! Now, when I get up and leave in the AM, I look across the street, and smile. I “wave” to Rachel and say “hey.” So much good still flows out of John, Rachel and Oscar’s home.

  11. Marchand Lewis says:

    I was so saddened to recently hear of Rachel’s Homegoing. I met Rachel at NFC Youth Group and considered her a sweet friend through high school. I remember she had the most lovely voice. I liked to sit near her while we sang worship songs on those carpeted risers so many years ago. She was a beautiful person inside and out and always loved visiting with her. I am very sorry for your loss.
    Marchand (DeChenne) Lewis

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