Public celebration of Vera Katz's life set for Jan. 28
A public celebration of Mayor Vera Katz's life has been scheduled at the Portland Art Museum at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28.
Doors will open at 1:15 p.m. Admission is free.
Katz passed away at the age of 84 on Dec. 11, 2017, due to complications from leukemia and kidney failure.
During her tenure as Portland's longest-serving woman mayor, the city made unprecedented investments in the arts. The Portland Art Museum was the first of several art institutions to receive substantial city funding.
"Vera understood the value of a world-class art museum to the soul of her city," says Brian Ferriso, Executive Director of the Portland Art Museum. "It is our privilege to open our doors to pay tribute to this urban visionary who dedicated her life to making her community a prosperous, welcoming and beautiful place."
Because his mother was known to shy away from pomp and circumstance, Katz's son, Jesse Katz, said the event will be an unpretentious and uplifting tribute.
"Mom always said that the most important thing to her was to make a difference," said Jesse Katz, a Los Angeles author and journalist. "Based on the condolences I've received these past few weeks, I can see just how many lives she touched — how profoundly she inspired others to do more and be better."
Jesse Katz also thanked his former Lincoln High School classmate, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, whose office has been collecting condolences. Staff have received letters from as far away as Suzhou, China, expressing the Portland Sister City's gratitude to the woman who bridged an ocean by bringing their culture to Portland with the Lan Su Chinese Garden.
In lieu of flowers, the Katz family has requested that donations in her honor be directed to Lan Su Chinese Garden, or your favorite local arts organization or public school foundation.
Vera Katz was one of the most Portland's most influential elected officials.
In a political career that spanned three decades, Katz was first elected to the Oregon House of Representatives as a Democrat representing Portland and Multnomah County in 1972. She was re-elected nine times through 1990. Katz was chosen Speaker of the Oregon House in 1985, becoming the first woman to serve in the position, which she held for a precedent-setting three sessions.
As a legislator, Katz is known for sponsoring the landmark school reform Oregon Educational Act for the 21st Century, helping pass legislation prohibiting discrimination based on gender in places of public accommodation and supporting gun control measures.
Katz was elected mayor of Portland in 1992, defeating former state representative and then City Council member Earl Blumenauer, among others. She was re-elected mayor in 1996 and 2000, leaving the office after her third term in January 2005.
To read a previous Portland Tribune story on Vera Katz, go to tinyurl.com/y7gncuql.