Seattle Culture

Remembering A True Hero: Former Seattle Mag Top Doc Passes Away

Dr. Shannon Heitritter built a life rich in meaningful relationships based on love, trust, and mutual support

By Stephanie Russell May 8, 2024

Dr. Shannon Heitritter brought joy and compassion everywhere she went.

Editor’s note: Every life is valuable and worthy of remembrance, and memorializing the dead is a fundamental aspect of human culture. The author of this piece, Seattle magazine editorial contributor Stephanie Russell, remembers and celebrates the life of a woman she knew and loved. 

If you had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Shannon Heitritter, your life was immensely changed. Shannon passed away peacefully in April of complications related to pancreatic cancer, surrounded by her loving family. She was 49.

Shannon was an endocrinologist at The Polyclinic, was featured in our Top Doctor issue numerous times, and even appeared on the cover in 2013. She entered Harvard Medical School, winning the Golden Stethoscope Award for excellence in teaching, and graduating near the top of her class. Shannon’s enthusiasm for endocrinology, commitment to providing the highest quality of care for each patient, and wonderful relationships with patients and colleagues, underpinned The Polyclinic’s emergence as the largest private endocrinology group in the Seattle area during her tenure.

Shannon was named a Top Doctor in Seattle magazine year after year. She loved being a doctor. I had the pleasure of working with Shannon, her husband, and their two boys as a nanny many years ago.

Dr. Shannon Heitritter, beloved endocrinologist, on the cover of Seattle magazine in 2013, is remembered for her warmth, expertise, and the profound impact she had on everyone she met.

I met Shannon in January 2013 when I worked as the family’s full-time nanny. I always enjoyed her infectious smile and laugh as she greeted me at the front door each morning. I’m sure she made her patients feel the same way. Our working relationship continued over the years, and I even took her boys on an outing to a pumpkin patch during the pandemic even though my career had shifted. We always found ways to stay connected. 

One of my jobs for Shannon and her family was preparing dinner. I vividly remember the time that she picked out a scallop recipe. I am not a seafood person, and made sure to tell Shannon that I had never made or tasted scallops before. “Oh, I’m sure they will be great,” she said in her typically upbeat and enthusiastic way. “Don’t worry about it.” She was always positive and encouraging. 

As she walked out the door, I quickly headed to YouTube for a tutorial on scallops, and then to the grocery store to buy ingredients. As the time crept closer to her arrival, I was overwhelmed with anxiety. I headed to YouTube for another tutorial.  Apparently, it’s easy to overcook scallops.

I’m still not sure whether they were any good. But, to believe Shannon, they were very tasty. “Wow Stephanie! These are delicious. You did a great job.” I’m still skeptical, but that was Shannon. Always encouraging. Always full of joy and positivity.

Her upbeat attitude on life was refreshing. I didn’t realize it at the time, but she taught me to take slow steps out of my comfort zone to try new things. To this day, Shannon remains my favorite boss. She was an amazing mom, wife, daughter, and doctor, among other things. She lives on in me and in so many people she touched. Her legacy will last forever.

Goodbye, Shannon. I’ll always cherish the lessons you taught me in your kind and caring way. I hope everyone brings kindness to this world like you did. You will be incredibly missed.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 1 p.m. May 11 at Edmonds United Methodist Church. It will be livestreamed at https://www.edmondsumc.org/memorial-service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Arnold P. Gold Foundation (https://www.gold-foundation.org) in Shannon’s honor.

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