If you’ve been to Tigard High School at all this week, you’ve probably seen it: A small dogwood tree, adorned with colorful scraps of paper.

The vibrant display is one of three living memorials planted across Tigard-Tualatin School District to remember Jan Kittleson, a tireless volunteer in the schools who spent countless hours working behind the scenes.

Kittleson died in February after a years-long battle with pancreatic cancer.

A staple at Tigard High School and school events, Kittleson volunteered in the school district for more than 30 years, often working behind the scenes to raise money and serving on the district’s Budget Committee, the Foundation for Tigard Tualatin Schools, Tigard Turns the Tide and various election committees putting together ballot initiatives to build new schools and local option levies.

Wayne Kittleson said planting trees was the perfect way to remember his wife’s commitment to the district.

“I think that it is such a great symbol,” he said. “It’s a living tree that will grow with the school for years to come. It’s perfect.”

More than 50 friends and family members gathered at the school Monday morning for the dedication.

“There were people from all walks of Jan’s life,” Wayne Kittleson said. “They were her neighbors, friends, church members, principals from other schools, students and School Board members.”

Students and staff members at Tigard High School wrote out small “wordgrams” describing Kittleson, which they hung from the tree.

At Monday’s dedication, family and friends added their own messages to the tree.

Some were comments about Kittleson or phrases that characterized her, Wayne Kittleson said.

One note quoted Mother Teresa, “A life not lived for others is not life.”

Wayne added his own note to the tree, he said. He kept his short.

“Your good works live on,” he wrote.

Purchased through private donations, the trees were planted at Tigard High, as well as Templeton and Metzger elementary schools — the three schools where Kittleson devoted the most time.

Her husband and a small group of friends and family visited each tree following Monday’s celebration.

Editor's note: This story originally misspelled Kittelson's last name.

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