Body found in Volunteer Park identified as Capitol Hill woman

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(Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

Friends say the body discovered Monday morning in a Volunteer Park lily pond was 49-year-old Amy Vanderbeck.

A longtime part of Capitol Hill and the Seattle coffee scene, Vanderbeck was a popular Vivace barista and opened Watertown cafe on 12th Ave with two fellow Vivace employees before closing the venue in 2010. Writing about Watertown in 2009, the Seattle Times said Vanderbeck had been pulling shots since 1985, starting at a Nordstrom’s espresso cart “and moving in 1989 to Vivace’s original espresso cart outside Washington Mutual on Broadway.”

Vanderbeck also worked in tech and as an audio engineer and video producer.

In 2016, she began producing the Struggle to Connect podcast. “Spurred by her therapist to leave the house a minimum of 2 hours a day,” the description reads, “Amy Vanderbeck wanders around Seattle visiting her friends and sticking microphones in their faces.” In the most recent episode from November she catches up with an old friend at Vivace. “I define a friend as someone I’ve been in the foxhole with at some point in my life,” she says. “Someone who has been right next to me when something shitty or completely awesome — but mostly shitty — has happened.” Through the episode, the two discuss love, work, sex, and Capitol Hill.

Her body was found Monday morning by a worker in Volunteer Park. Police say there was no indication of foul play.

The King County Medical Examiner is investigating the death. UPDATE 3:33 PM: The medical examiner released information identifying Vanderbeck Tuesday afternoon. The results of the investigation of her death are pending toxicology reports that sometimes take weeks or longer to complete.

UPDATE 1/11/2017: If you or anybody you know needs assistance or is in crisis, call (206) 461-3222 for help.

A Friends of Amy Vanderbeck giving campaign to raise funding for her funeral expenses and a possible memorial has raised more than $17,000 from friends and loved ones.

Her friends and loved ones will gather Friday at Century Ballroom and then walk together to Volunteer Park’s lily pond.

UPDATE 1/13/2017: Vanderbeck’s family has asked CHS to help them reach out anybody who knew and loved Amy about the gathering Friday to remember her and mark her life. “If you knew or loved or met her, come out,” Vanderbeck’s sister Lisa Weir tells CHS. Weir especially hopes to connect with people drawn to the issues of mental illness and loneliness that Vanderbeck spoke about in her Struggle to Connect podcast. “Just because she’s gone, it doesn’t mean they’re less important,” Weir said.

We are gathering to celebrate Amy. Century Ballroom, Friday, January 13. 2pm to 6pm Tell everybody who loved her. That’s why we have a big room. Everyone who loved Amy is welcome – everyone who loves us is welcome. We will march to the pond following the gathering – wear layers. Bring memories, photos, yourself. Please share post with your Amy circle. She touched so  many lives – we can hardly reach wide enough.

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18 thoughts on “Body found in Volunteer Park identified as Capitol Hill woman

  1. i’d really like to send my condolences to amy vanderbeck’s family, friends. i had the pleasure of seeing her at my place of work on capital hill often. i enjoyed interacting with her. love and blessings elizabeth

  2. I met Amy a few months back at a mutual friends birthday party. I was pouring myself a soda water when I broke a glass and spilled all over. She stepped in to help me clean up and we had what could have been a future podcast. It was one of the most natural conversations I’ve ever had with a stranger at a party. Be Kind and Share Serious Love with each other.

  3. I am so sad to read this. Amy and John were my regular / most favorite baristas at Vivace starting in the mid-90s. Amy even remembered me after I had been gone for years and then stopped by a few months ago when she and John happened to be working there one Saturday – she remembered my name! She always made me feel like more than a customer. I am heartbroken for all that knew her.

  4. Very sad. I frequented Watertown back when I lived on First Hill, and Amy was always such a cheerful presence. She poured me my first legal drink on the morning of my 21st birthday (Irish Coffee).

    I hope she is at peace.

  5. 💔 love you Amy. You were there for me on my darkest night. You continued to check in on me and your support was so authentic and loving I struggled with its beauty. I can only imagine that you knew exactly what I needed through your own experiences.
    We shared many a laugh, sometimes at both our expense. We discussed many topics and opened up to one another. You were a ray of sunshine with your amazing smile, your beautiful intellect and sharp wit. You always had me laughing even on your dark days. The world will not be the same without you in it. I want you to know the podcast we were set to do in idea alone helped me through a hard time. It changed the course of my life. You are loved. You are admired. You are missed and I am so thankful to have known you.
    PS. Last night you were making fun of me in my head and I growled at you. I suppose I will always make fun of myself lovingly through your eyes.
    So much love. So much Miss. x

  6. It was always a joy to spend time with Amy. We enjoyed each other’s humor and misanthropic nature. She was smart and funny and caring. I hope she has found peace. I wish I could say goodbye. I will miss her terribly. There is such a hole in all our hearts

  7. NO! She was an amazing person. All the Vanderbeck sisters are. Just lovely, wonderful people. I can’t believe it.

    I will miss her very much.

    I’m so, so sorry to all my old Vivace peeps. So devastating.

  8. I didn’t know Amy but am listening to her podcast. I really wish I would have known her. RIP Amy. You’re a beautiful spirit and I’m glad I can get to know you and your friends through the podcast. She is such an interesting person with interesting stories.

  9. Amy was one of the first students I had at SCC. What an amazing, bright, dedicated person. She later worked in our office on campus, bringing her humor to our crazy work space. Recently, she returned to our office to fill in for a time while a colleague was on leave. Her office door was ALWAYS open, and she told me it was because she wanted students and staff and faculty to know she was there to help. I had many conversations with her where she once again made me laugh. And think. We will all terribly miss this wonderful soul.

  10. I was shocked and saddened. What a great gal. So funny and smart and a woman who’s been in my circle, for years. We go back to the same alma mater… Bothell high… then she served me coffee… she was a patron of my shows…she shared her sound making ability… and finally we just hung at the outdoor tables, petting dogs, lamenting about jobs, money and loser date & mates and watching the crazy parade on Broadway. I’m so sorry to have just found out. My heart goes out to all the “Vivacites” and her family and friend. I wish Amy Peace.

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