It is with deepest sorrow that we announce the death of our precious child, Starla Jane Hindberg-O’Keeffe. Starla passed away September 17, 2021, at Seattle Children’s Hospital after a brief battle with A.D.E.M. (Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis) which caused acute inflammation in her brain and spinal cord. Starla was born March 2, 2011, in Spokane Washington. On Aug 19, 2013, Starla and her siblings came to live with her Great Aunt Ann and Uncle Tom O’Keeffe. Starla’s young mom recognized she was unable to care for the children, and with love, brought them to her Aunt and Uncle. The bond between the children and The O’Keeffe family was immediate and deeply felt and Starla and her siblings were embraced as Ann and Tom’s children.
Starla was a very special soul who faced many challenges due to her diagnosis of Static Encephalopathy: Alcohol Exposed, which is under the umbrella of FASD ( Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) , Childhood of Apraxia and Polycystic Kidney disease. Despite her disabilities, she worked hard to address her weaknesses and grow her strengths. Starla was a student at Emerald Park Elementary. School was very hard for Starla due to her cognitive difficulties and anxiety, and she longed to be home with her Mommy. When overwhelmed by the academic rigor and demands she would elope in order to go home, causing great concern for her teachers and mom. Her anxiety lessoned when she was given an 1-1 aide whom she developed a deep fondness for. Ms. Kiana was her safety net at school during Covid Online classes and Summer School and Starla willingly would work for and with her.
Starla enjoyed outings and looked forward to Kent Parks summer concerts, Reber Ranch Western Days, going to the library and riding her bike. She loved going to musicals and the movies. While crowds overwhelmed her, she still enjoyed some of the activities that Kent Parks provided such as Easter Egg hunts and Halloween trick or treating at the stores, Cornucopia Days and parades.
Starla was a very artistic soul who loved to sing and was learning to play the Ukulele, and bells. She sang like an angel and often used her songs to self-soothe. Her favorite repertoire included all the songs from both Frozen movies. She also enjoyed dancing and performing on stage. She took Tap, Ballet and Jazz. Ballet was her favorite and she looked forward to seeing her favorite teacher, Miss Mary.
Reading was a passion, and she spent many hours reading her favorite books over and over. She also loved to write and much to her mom’s dismay often used every sheet of paper in the house, as well as her siblings school notebooks, to write her stories of Frozen and Queen Elsa. Other activities that came easily to Starla were building Legos from directions and 300-piece puzzles. More recently Starla had mastered riding a two-wheel bike and was very proud of her accomplishments. Her tenacity to stick with challenging activities was admirable.
When she was 8 Starla demonstrated incredible courage and poise when she sang “Let It Go” in the school’s talent show. She was looking forward to performing again. She won her mom’s heart by singing to her almost every night when she was tucked into bed. Her favorite song, which she called “our song” was, All is Found, from Frozen 2.
Starla was an incredibly loving and kind child who enjoyed having all her older brothers and sisters visit and pay attention to her. When she felt safe with a person, she loved with a fierce loyalty. Starla loved her friend Rayne and looked forward to a time when they could play together again. We are grateful Starla had such a deep abiding friendship. Additionally, we extend our gratitude to all her therapists, doctors and medical specialists who supported and helped us through the years.
Starla wanted to spread the word about FASD and educate everyone of the dangers of drinking while pregnant. Her greatest wish was for Educators, Doctors and Therapists to be better informed about the impact FASD had on children, so they could better understand and these children and their families. Please visit https://www.nofaswa. org/ to learn more about this preventable disorder.
We will deeply miss our precious little Angel who enriched and made our lives better with her presence. Starla is survived by her mom, Ann O’Keeffe, siblings Clara and Alex Hindberg-O’Keeffe, Jenna Hindberg, and Roman Hindberg. Her “chosen Daddy” Michael O’Keeffe, siblings/cousins, Katie Lee, Andy O’Keeffe, Amy Scroggs- O’Keeffe, Virginia O’Keeffe, Jeremy O’Keeffe and Patrick O’Keeffe. Her Grandparents Joann and Matthew Riffel, Uncle Martin Riffel, Aunt Elizabeth Riffel and Aunt Maddie Treacy and her bio mom, Sara Hindberg. Starla was predeceased by her Great Uncle Tom O’Keeffe.
Funeral Services will be at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Covington on Wednesday, September 29th at 11AM, reception to follow at Zion Lutheran Church, burial will be at 2PM at Hillcrest Burial Park.