Doris H. Thurston: 1924–2017

Port Townsend, Washington

February 24, 1924 – March 7, 2017

Doris Horton Thurston died peacefully on March 7, 2017 at her home in Port Townsend, Washington, surrounded by her children. She was 93 years old. Writing haiku was among her many creative pursuits, and she always enjoyed hosting haiku meetings in her inviting home.

Doris grew up in Woodland, Washington, went to college in Eugene, Oregon, and in 1989 graduated from Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. She raised five children in California, moving to the Olympic Peninsula in 1973, and lived in Port Townsend for the last three and a half decades of her life. She was a longtime member of the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and engaged in a multitude of community organizations including various community choruses, the weaversguild, Northwind Arts Center, Copper Canyon Press, Centrum, and the peace movement. Doris published poems in dozens of journals, magazines, and chapbooks, taught haiku at summer workshops in McCarthy, Alaska as well as hosting haiku and singing groups in her Port Townsend home. She was an accomplished storyteller as well.

Throughout her life Doris expressed her artistic creativity through painting, weaving, photography, writing, poetry, and music. She was known for her beautiful voice and skill at the piano, entertaining people until the very end of her life playing jazz standards and popular tunes. Doris loved to be outdoors hiking, backpacking, canoeing, and gardening. She placed great value in preserving the natural environment for future generations and was committed to fostering a society that demonstrated compassion for everyone.

Doris is survived by four of her five children—Peter, Marci (deceased), Andrew, Peggy and Polly; ten grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Her creativity inspired many. Her family and friends will miss her bright spirit, compassionate heart, and generous nature.

See the obituary notice in the Port Townsend Leader. In the summer of 2018, Doris Thurston’s family privately published A Life’s Story, a book of 278 pages collecting as many of Doris’s haiku and longer poems as they could find.

To Doris Thurston on Her Eightieth Birthday

The following poem by Sam Hamill appeared in his book Measured by Stone (Willimantic, Connecticut: Curbstone Press, 2007, page 69):

I hope that should I live to be

four score years or more,

I too will have learned to see

the beauty of this suffering world

through the eyes of a good-hearted woman.

What joy sustains and grief embraces—

the people, the stories, the places—

make it worth it to be human.

Selected Haiku

See additional poems in a PDF scan of Doris’s book, A Circle of Light.

rain cloud

the day blows in

through sunshine

rain barrel


its overflow song


frozen to tree bark

morning silence

yellow leaf

you flutter down like a bird

but no song

I listen again—a whisper

winter settles into the grass

there is no ending—

only the change

of seasons

piano keyboard black and white songs in my fingers

why do I reach

for miracles in vision when one

small flower will do?

spring ritual

pulling out roots to make room

for roots

in a puddle

a leaf with a puddle

in the middle

spider web

floating in the wind

garden fragrance

wind in the trees

my dreams also fly

over the hill

things live and die

along the edge of consciousness

I reach out my hand

full moon—

from the cloud bank

a circle of light

quiet so deep

you can hear the swan

crook its neck

morning frost

a compost seedling


low tide—

the shells

not chosen

stone before stone buddha