Memorial service is Sunday for passionate city leader, volunteer

Photo Credit: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Cathy Stanton, who served on the Beaverton City Council for 19 years, died early Sunday morning following an illness. This photo was taken during a reception prior to her final council meeting in December 2012.Cathy Stanton was never employed as a librarian, but based on her devotion to the Beaverton City Library — and time she spent there as a volunteer — a regular patron could be forgiven for assuming otherwise.

“She just loved the library,” said Jennifer Johnson, manager of volunteer services for the library at 12375 S.W. Fifth St. “She showed up for every event, every celebration. I don’t know where her passion for libraries started. I just know it was full fledged.”

Johnson, who worked with Stanton at the library since 2006, was among countless city of Beaverton employees, leaders and residents saddened to hear the former longtime city councilor and community leader died Sunday night of complications from a stroke she suffered on Nov. 1.

Stanton, 65, served on the Beaverton City Council for 19 years, stepping down from her position at the end of 2012, when she chose not to seek re-election.

A memorial service to honor Stanton’s memory and accomplishments will be held on Sunday, Nov. 23, at 3 p.m. at Beaverton Christian Church, 13600 S.W. Allen Blvd. A reception for friends and family will take place immediately after the service.

An active Greenway neighbor and longtime Beaverton City Library volunteer, Stanton, for whom a Beaverton City Library conference room was dedicated to her service last year, was a champion for the city with a passion for service.

Before running for the council, Stanton made her mark as an active member of the Greenway Neighborhood Association Committee and the city’s traffic and planning commissions.

As a councilor, she was known for her intense curiosity, tenacity and attention to detail on the dais.

City Councilor Betty Bode, who served with Stanton for several years and visited her in Providence St. Vincent Medical Center last week, remembers her as a mentor and passionate Beaverton community advocate.

“We’ve lost a phenomenal city leader who loved this community,” Bode said on Monday morning. “She taught me a lot, and I’m going to miss her. It’s been a rough week.”

The council paid tribute to Stanton before starting its Tuesday night meeting with a moment of silence in the Beaverton Building Council Chambers while photos of the smiling retired councilor graced the chamber’s video screens.

A true Beavertonian

Stanton immersed herself in a number of causes and volunteer leadership positions since moving to Beaverton with her husband, Tom, in 1980. A San Francisco-area native, Stanton met Tom, an Oregon native, at Chico State University in 1969.

Stanton’s civic involvement started when she learned the city planned to demolish a pedestrian bridge in the couple’s Greenway neighborhood. Working with city officials as a private citizen, she helped persuade leaders to retain and ultimately replace what many considered a vital community link.

Councilor Cate Arnold, who joined the council after Stanton, called her a mentor in matters both personal and professional.

“When I met her, she was wonderful with how she shared her love of knowledge and learning,” Arnold said. “She was a mom, and so was I. Her kids were a little older. We both had sons with similarities. My youngest was a spitfire. Cathy told me what to do.

“She was a mentor as a mother, and a mentor as a councilor,” she added. “She was the quintessential community volunteer. That was Cathy.”

A good neighbor

Always passionate about transportation issues, Stanton, a former high school teacher and import-export documentation clerk, served on organizations such as the Westside Economic Alliance, the city’s Transportation Committee, Community Action of Washington County and as a Beaverton delegate to the Metropolitan Area Communications Commission.

Her youngest son, Tom Stanton Jr., 39, said his mother was driven to serve because of an innate desire to make a difference and her Christian belief to “love your neighbors as yourself.”

“She pretty much served at her own expense,” Tom said. “A lot of people go through council to become a mayor, get on a board, get a salary or have a career. My mom dedicated her life to this community just because she believed that’s what The Bible wanted her to do.”

Calling Stanton the “quintessential public servant in every positive sense of the term,” City Councilor Ian King agreed that Stanton did not seek out stepping stones.

“It was all a matter of service to her, all part of public service,” said King, who met Stanton while serving on the Beaverton Budget Committee in 2002. “I don’t know how she found so much time” to delve so deeply into council topics. “She really took seriously every intrinsic thing.”

The councilors enjoyed discussing a wide range of topics, from American history to raising children to the latest city-related issues.

“She was open to talking about anything,” said King, who spent time with Stanton last week in Providence St. Vincent Medical Center, where she died on Sunday. “She laughed at some of my corny jokes. Being surrounded by so many friends and family, it really showed how much love and respect there was for Cathy.

“I will miss her.”

Johnson, who noted Stanton’s regular volunteer work at the city library continued through June, said Stanton had a section of eclectic paperback books staff and some patrons knew as “Cathy’s Collection.”

“She owned it,” Johnson said. “She found the books, mended and cleaned them and put them on the shelf. It was a small, niche collection. She made sure we had romance novels. It was just kind of her thing.”

Faith in her city’s future

Tom Stanton Jr. said his mother had various health problems throughout the past year and had dedicated herself to getting better when her own mother, Lena Ragni, passed away in mid October at 94 years old.

“Going from getting herself healthy and finding ways to improve that, then so quickly to have an event,” he noted, “it’s kind of a punch in the gut, you know?”

Stanton suffered an aortic rupture that necessitated a double heart-bypass operation. Complications from plaque released during the procedure led to multiple strokes that damaged her cognitive function, Tom Jr. said.

Despite his mother’s struggles in the past year, he said he “still thought there would be more time.”

“It’s a pretty intense deal as a son to see your mom dedicated to (public service) like that,” he said. “She was a heck of a lady.”

Reflecting on her final weeks on the council before her term ended on Dec. 31, 2012, Stanton told the Valley Times it was difficult to walk away from an entity to which she gave so much of herself.

“I am feeling like any parent does when her last child leaves the house. I have an empty nest,” she said. “I nurtured this child, and want it to succeed. But I’m a mom, so I don’t know if it can succeed without me. (But) I know it can because we have the best community in the world here. Our citizens are informed and engaged and so cued into what’s going on in our neighborhoods and the city. It’s not like the city couldn’t get along before me, so it will get along without me.”

In addition to Tom Jr., Stanton is survived by her husband, Tom, and son Tim Stanton, 30, of Millbrae, Calif.

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