May 12, 1931- September 27, 2016
Oakley was born in New Haven Connecticut to Steven Comstock and Helen Evans.
Her parents were divorced during her early childhood and both parents moved to southern California where Oakley grew up dividing time between her Mother’s home in Pasadena and her father’s place in the Ojai valley.
Her mother married Philip S Brown and became a well-known gourmet cook and writer of west coast cookbooks. Her books under the name of Helen Evans Brown are still available today. Oakley became an accomplished cook in her own right as a product of this exposure to Helen Brown and her wide circle of friends in the food world, among them James Beard. After graduating from a private girls’ high school in Azusa, Oakley entered Reed College in Portland, Oregon and there she met her future husband Charles (Joe) Goodner who was entering his junior year. Oakley was an outstanding student for two years but elected to leave when, after Joe’s graduation, they were married in Pasadena in 1951. They moved that summer to Salt Lake City, Utah where Joe entered medical school and Oakley taught 6th grade in a private girls school. Upon graduation and internship after 5 years in Salt Lake City, they moved to Boston where Joe finished training as an academic endocrinologist. While in Boston Oakley had a son, Philip, and a daughter, Gretchen.
Oakley and family next followed Joe to Germany where he served two years in the US Air force as a physician at Ramstein airbase. A second daughter, Stephanie, was born while they were in Germany.
In 1962 they moved to Seattle where Joe joined the medical school faculty stationed at King County Hospital, now Harborview Medical Center. They made their home in Kirkland where Oakley soon became a member of the board of the Lake Washington School District. She served several terms, becoming president of the board.
In the late 60’sOakley studied to become a realtor and later a real estate broker. She rose rapidly in the profession and went on to manage major offices, first for John L Scott and then for the Coldwell Banker Bain agency. She was greatly loved and appreciated for her remarkable skill with interpersonal relationships and ability to bring out the potential in her agents.
In 1989 her older daughter Gretchen died of acute myelocytic leukemia. The family was devastated and within two years when Joe reached the age for early retirement, they both opted to retire and begin a new adventure by selling their home on Lake Washington and moving to Lopez Island.
They bought an old farm property on Lopez Sound and lived in a tent while first building a guesthouse. After that was livable they built a barn and a main house and developed a working sheep operation all with the help of their son Philip. Oakley had always wanted to move to a farm so they created one.
One motivation for raising sheep was to use them as an excuse for Oakley to train a border collie. Oakley raised purebred Romney sheep and had a series of border collies to help with their care. This gave her great joy over the years.
The other source of great joy for Oakley was becoming an accomplished international birder. She and Joe began going on guided bird trips around the world. They went on one or two trips every year primarily in the winter and early spring. As a result they were able to visit many of the most interesting places on earth and see the unique terrain in each place far better than with conventional travel so often focused on cities and other tourist venues. In the course of these trips they were many times in Africa, Central and South America as well as Australia, New Zealand, Madagascar, Ethiopia and Morocco and they were able to see almost half of the avian species in the world.
In the late 90’s Oakley developed a chronic low grade malignancy of the bone marrow called myelofibrosis. She was not greatly limited by this condition until the last two to three years when it began to require more and more frequent transfusion to maintain her red blood cell level. The disease progressed more rapidly in the past year and proved to be fatal in September. Oakley died at home surrounded by her family on September 27th, 2016. She is survived by her Husband Joe, son Philip, daughter Stephanie, grandsons Forrest and Murphy and Tru her last border collie.