In memoriam: Lili Catherine Hein

Lili Catherine Hein of Orcas Island, Washington, passed away Feb. 9 due to cancer. She was 50.

Lili was born in Taipei, Taiwan on Mother’s Day, May 11 in 1971.

From age one, she grew up in Poulsbo, Washington, also living some of her adolescent years in Spain and the Republic of Korea while her father was employed in those countries. She was graduated from North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo in 1989, and subsequently from the University of Washington, where she became fluent in Chinese while earning a Bachelor’s degree, followed by a Master’s degree in Geography.

While a UW student Lili became active in AIESEC, an international youth-run, non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that provides young people with leadership development, cross-cultural internships, and global volunteer exchange experiences. After graduation, she spent several years in China working to help establish AIESEC chapters there. And, it was in AIESEC that Lili met her future life partner, Arthur de Haan.

After completing nearly three years’ AIESEC service in China, Lili returned to Seattle and worked several years for the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, which promotes the Greater Seattle region to domestic and international markets in areas of business, education, tourism, ports and the like. She was an avid traveler for pleasure as well as business.

Lili continued to be active in AIESEC throughout her adult life. She helped build the national alumni chapter for AIESEC, called AIESEC Life, as a founding member and also as executive director during 2009-11.

Lili loved animals and the natural world. She was a self-studied practitioner of animal communication, Reiki, and ancestral healing, and brought insights from these fields into the way she lived and her relationships with others. Her quiet, thoughtful presence was a gift to all who had the good fortune of knowing her.

Lili and Arthur married in 2002 in Bonaire, a Caribbean island mecca for windsurfing, which they enjoyed.

Over the next few years, the couple built a rural family life on acreage on Orcas Island in the San Juans, populating the farm with a few Icelandic horses and two sons. Lili was a life-long horsewoman and became an accomplished farrier. She also was active in Orcas’ Montessori schools, and in the vegan community.

Lili was predeceased by her birth mother, Teng Ya-heng. She is survived by her husband Arthur and their sons, Chao and Jay; by a brother Jesse Hein (Erin Okuno) and a sister Elisabeth Kikuchi (Paul); by Lili’s parents Donald and Lina Hein; by Arthur’s parents Ruud and Yvonne de Haan; by Arthur’s siblings Nathalie de Haan (Nine) and Robin de Haan (Marjon); and by numerous cousins, nieces and nephew, and aunts and uncles.

A small family memorial will occur at a future date.

An online memorial website has been created at

In lieu of flowers, donations in Lili’s name may be made to AIESEC or AIESEC Life.