Mary Fung Koehler was born on December 26, 1933 to Tuck and Li Chen Fung in Chicago Illinois. She was the seventh of eleven children and grew up working in the family’s Chinese-American restaurants. Mary attended the University of Illinois and became the third woman to ever graduate from the school of chemical engineering. She worked for a time with the U.S. Department of Mines.
Mary came to Seattle in 1964 with her then husband who was a professor at the University of Washington. She had two young children when with her characteristic restless intelligence, Mary decided to attend UW law school. She had two more children and was seven months pregnant with her fifth child when she graduated on time, three years later. She was the only female minority in her law school class. At a time when diversity was rare, Mary practiced law in Lake Forest Park for two decades, handling cases ranging from criminal defense to divorce, real estate, personal injury, and business law. She was also fearless. In the early 80s she successfully represented two lesbian mothers in a child custody dispute brought by their ex-husbands. The landmark case went up to the appellate courts and was upheld. She was a true neighborhood lawyer. When clients couldn’t pay her, they painted her house, worked on her car, and brought her food from their restaurants. Mary never hesitated to call out those in positions of power and authority if she thought they were acting with prejudice or bias. At one point she was a board member of the ACLU. She also became the broker of Koehler Realty Inc.
Mary had an extremely colorful personality and was a true extrovert. Her smile literally reached from ear to ear. She enjoyed cheering on all Seattle sports teams and especially the Seahawks. She fought hard for her clients. She raised strong children.
She loved meeting people and learning about their lives. Her mission in life was to heal people. She also liked to predict people’s IQs and at one point declared that the family dog Izzy’s IQ was higher than that of George W. Bush.
Mary loved life and appreciated her many blessings, the most important being family.
She was tremendously proud of and loved her five children: Karen, Debbie, Susan, Jennifer, and Gregory; her grandchildren Cristina, Alysha, Noelle, Erin, Alex, Ryan, Ben, E.J.; and her children and grand-children gained through marriage: Laurie, Elena, Rob, John S, John V, and Sol. She is survived by her siblings Helen, Rose, John, Timmy, Paul, Dorothy, and Jimmy.
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to Bastyr University, https://bastyr.thankyou4caring.org.