Surrounded by twinkling lights, candles, and her sweet puppy, Theo, Amberlee Hatton-Ward passed away at home Sat., Oct. 5, in the loving arms of her mother. She was 37 years-old.
Affectionately known as Ber, Amby, Ams, and Ambo, she joined the welcoming arms of her brother, Louie, and grandmother, Marlae, who preceded her in death and were there to guide her soul to their joyous reunion.
Born Jan. 25, 1982, to Shauna and Andrew Hatton-Ward, Amberlee was trapped in a body with extreme physical limitations. At last, she is free to run through fields of flowers, dip her toes in cool streams, and dance and sing her heart out to the tunes of Frank Sinatra.
In spite of, or perhaps because of, her limitations, Amberlee touched people deeply. She guided us through her challenges to the gifts of patience, courage, empathy, grace, and living in the moment. She taught us the deep understanding of what is most important in life. When you observed her in public and the reactions of those around her, it changed you. Oftentimes, people would stop to say “hello.” She was a popular soul and always insisted on being dressed impeccably, shoes and all.
In addition to dressing up and beauty treatments, she liked going to SLAC’s Christmas plays with her little buddies, and binge-watching Disney movies; Cinderella was her favorite. Knock-knock jokes and Grandpa Rasmussen’s snorting noises made her laugh, especially while riding in his truck to and from family gatherings.
She liked wheeling around the halls of Healthsouth Rehabilitation Hospital in her “chariot” and being pulled behind a bicycle with her mom and brother. As a little girl, she liked bath and story time with her daddy. She loved birthday parties, champagne, and taking the school bus to and from Jordan Valley where she earned a high school diploma. She loved music, theatre, opera, and most recently, “School of Rock” at the Eccles theater and “Cinderella” at the Hale Center Theater.
Over the years, there have been many magnificent people who supported her journey. From the hundreds of nurses and CNAs, her unsung heroes who cared for her every hour of every day, under the caring guidance of Doctors Dave Folland, Michael Wall, Mark Rada, and Richard Parkin to the teams at Healthsouth and Primary Children’s, thank you for your tireless devotion, skill and wisdom. Her entourage was a village of lovely caregivers who were companions to both Amberlee and her mom through her many illnesses as well as her numerous adventures. Her fragile body lived well beyond expectation, due to the care of those around her. To Symbii Hospice, Uncle Ty, and our beloved Teresa Snow, your guidance during her last days were beyond measure. To our many friends and family, her life was made rich and full through your enduring love and support.
As her brother, Louie, so eloquently said in the final hours of his own life, “Maybe it’s all about love -- people caring about people.” It has been an honor to care for our sweet Amberlee and although our hearts are broken at her passing, she will live on forever in the hearts of many.
With grace and gratitude, we will celebrate Amberlee’s life and legacy Sat., Oct. 26, 3 p.m. - 5 p.m., Starks Funeral Home, 3651 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City. Guests are encouraged to use the complimentary valet parking on the north side of the building.
Please – ADULTS ONLY. A separate celebration for children – Amberlee’s little buddies -- will be held later at Salt Lake Acting Company. Please check back soon for further service information.
In lieu of flowers, we have established “The Amberlee Scholarship Fund” at Salt Lake Acting Company to enable children with disabilities and their families to attend the annual Christmas play. To donate, please call SLAC at 801-363-7522.
We love you Ber Ber.