She stood 5 feet and weighed 98 pounds, a no-nonsense grandmother with an unlikely cause. Though not a supporter of illicit drugs, Betty Hiatt favored the use of marijuana for medical purposes.
She had to; without her morning smoke, the Ballard woman ravaged by cancer and Crohn's and Parkinson's diseases could not keep down her medication or keep up her appetite.
Ever since her late 70s, when her physician authorized her to use marijuana, Hiatt had said she was "old enough to make my own health care decision."
She died June 25 at home, surrounded by her family, 19 days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal government can prosecute medical marijuana users. She was 81.
"The last kinda good day she had was the day the decision came down," said her son, Douglas Hiatt of Seattle. "She basically felt that people should be able to make their own health care decision, that it was not anybody else's business what went on between her and her doctor.
"She thought the idea of prosecuting people for medical marijuana use was sickening."
She was born Betty Rand on Feb. 3, 1924, in Chattanooga, Tenn., the third of four children. She moved to a Cleveland suburb and married Gordon Hiatt in 1957.
The couple later lived in Chicago, where her love of jazz grew.
"She had drinks with Dizzy Gillespie on the nightclub circuit," her son said. "Dave Brubeck. Cannonball Adderley. She snuck me into clubs when I was a kid."
After moves to Atlanta and Walnut Creek, Calif., Hiatt was diagnosed with Crohn's and Parkinson's diseases.
Following a move to Seattle in 1999, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, became nauseous and lacked an appetite.
"That's why she ended up being a medical marijuana user," said her son, a defense lawyer. "She had never tried marijuana her whole life until she was sick. She was not necessarily in favor of drugs, but she wasn't a fan of American drug policy, either. She thought that locking everyone up (for medical marijuana use) is ridiculous."
A citizen's initiative passed in 1998 permits medical use of marijuana in Washington.
The King County Prosecutor's Office said the recent ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court would have little or no effect on people who use marijuana under the provisions of the initiative.
Her son said his mother, who earlier in life had trained to teach children who were deaf or had learning disabilities, was "always about putting people first. She didn't cry over things. She'd say, 'Things are just things.' "
She was an avid reader and finished up to five books a week -- everything from "War and Peace" to a romance novel -- until two weeks before her death.
Hiatt willed her body to the University of Washington School of Medicine.
"She didn't believe in wasting anything," her son said.
Hiatt divorced her husband in 2002.
In addition to Douglas, she is survived by another son, Daniel Hiatt, a prosecuting attorney in Atlanta; granddaughters Jessica and Samantha Hiatt of Seattle; grandson Joshua Hiatt of Atlanta; brother Parker Rand of Florida; and sister Edda "Pete" Burroughs of New Jersey and Florida.
No services will be held. Remembrances may be sent to any cancer-fighting organization, especially those engaged in the battle against breast cancer, Hiatt's family said.