Despite a courageous 2.5-year fight, Tina Engebretson discovered one thing she couldn’t win over with her positive can-do attitude, sunny disposition, and fierce determination: cancer. In her inimitable fashion, she ultimately gave up the fight on her terms — on July 13, while on the Hawaiian vacation she had eagerly waited to enjoy with her family for more than one year (delayed due to COVID travel restrictions). She was 52 years old.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Education from Washington State University, Tina’s first career was in teaching. As she told me back in 2018, when she received the Leadership Award in Retail from enLIGHTenment magazine, “I was teaching part-time for a few years after college and working for a tile and carpet shop. They were going out of business, so I took the opportunity to look for work that aligned with my passions. I ended up at Inland Lighting in Yakima, Washington because I was most interested in design. I loved making the tile and carpet shop’s showroom look beautiful.”
Two life-changing things happened when she started working at Inland Lighting in the year 2000 — she fell in love with lighting, and she fell in love with showroom owner Jim Engebretson; they married in 2004. Jim told me he was impressed with her intelligence and knack for creative problem-solving right from the start. “She was detail-oriented,” he recalls, adding that when she was studying for the intensive Certified Lighting Consultant (CLC) exam from the American Lighting Association (ALA), she was determined to get a perfect score. Tina later volunteered her time to help others with the program, enthusiastically serving on the ALA Certification Committee and was a member of ALA’s Women in Lighting group.
In Tina, Jim found the perfect partner in life and in business. He was proud of her accomplishments in lighting and delighted in her companionship when they would often watch the sun rise together with their yellow labs beside them. Most of all, he admired her joyfulness as well as her positivity in the face of incredible challenges. Jim told me that going to the Dallas Market together to see their friends in the industry, select product for their showroom, and attend educational seminars was something they both looked forward to twice a year.
Besides a passion for gardening, Tina also enjoyed photography, quilting, duck hunting, cooking, and being involved with the Volkswagen Club and the Women’s Club in her hometown of Naches.
Tina was preceded in death by Richard Thomas (father), Tim Thomas (brother), and Tammy Thomas (sister). She is survived by her husband Jim, mother Sharon Thomas, brothers Tony Thomas (Michael) and Travis Thomas, sister Tricia (Ken) Clements, nephews Casey Thomas, Tim Thomas, and Wyatt Clements, nieces Emily Thomas and Hannah Clements, and sister-in-law Kathy Thomas (Tim).
A memorial service will be held at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 7809 Tieton Drive, Yakima, WA on August 28 at 11:00 am with a luncheon to follow.
In lieu of flowers, Tina’s family says she would want donations to be made to the Wellness House, YWCA, Samaritan’s Purse, or any cancer research program of your choice.