Kathleen Wysong will be missed after years of public serviceSEASIDE - Kathleen Wysong's eight years as a Seaside city councilor capped a lifetime of public service.
Wysong, 75, died Sunday in her Seaside home surrounded by members of her family. She had been diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer in mid-August.
Her family and friends on Monday recalled her dedication to helping others, activity in a range of causes and her love of Seaside. Family members who survive her include seven children and 14 grandchildren.
Born in Portland in 1927 to James Forsythe and Hazel Pitt Forsythe, she moved to Seaside as a teenager and graduated from Seaside High School. She received a bachelor's degree in history, with honors, from the University of Oregon. There she met the man who became her husband, John Wysong, and they moved to Annapolis, Md., where he was a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy.
She obtained a teaching certificate and did graduate studies at the University of Maryland, and became a high school teacher of history, government and social studies. She also was a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher for 48 years,
Wysong helped to found and run the Stanton Community Center in inner-city Annapolis, often bringing her own children when she was teaching in its after-school program.
"She made it seem second-nature to help your community," said one of her daughters, Miriam Huntsman of Seaside.
Another daughter, Becky Holland of Annapolis, recalled how Wysong visited patients at Crownsville State mental hospital weekly for eight years. "She saw a need and pitched in, but she was never preachy about it."
Her outlook was largely shaped by her Christian faith and the stance of helping people taken by her parents, who were in the Salvation Army, family members said.
Wysong helped to found and run the Helping Hand Center for low-income family emergency assistance in Annapolis, served as a foster mother, and also was a civil rights, peace and right-to-life activist. She was a host to several foreign exchange students and an adviser to high school cheerleading squads.
In addition to raising her children, she enjoyed sewing.
Wysong was active in the New Democratic Coalition, a campaign manager for two candidates for the Maryland Legislature and a candidate for Annapolis City Council.
Upon leaving Maryland in 1982, she received a citation from the governor and from the mayor of Annapolis, who declared a "Kathleen Wysong Day."
"She had such happy memories of Seaside she wanted to come back," Huntsman said.
Involvement started early with candidacy for the Seaside School Board. She was a volunteer reading tutor, and became a member of the Seaside Improvement Commission, Community Center Commission and chairwoman of the Clatsop County Election Board.
Wysong participated on the local Democratic precinct committee and was chairwoman of the Clatsop County Democrats board.
She was active with efforts to preserve Neawanna Point north of town. She was chairwoman of the Friends of Sacagawea group, seeking to bring a statue of the Shoshone woman to Seltzer Park at the Cove.
Her background in teaching history also found its way into more recent activities. For years Wysong served on the Clatsop County chapter of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Association, recently as its president.
She began serving on the Seaside City Council in 1995 and has been council president - a position which includes running meetings if the mayor is absent - since 1999. She did not file to seek re-election this fall.
"She was a wonderful citizen, trying to make this community better for everyone," said Ann Shaffer, who served with Wysong on the board of the nonprofit group Northwest Performing Arts Inc. "She was caring but also firm in her views, and yet tried to listen to everyone.
"We're going to miss her an awful lot."
Last month, Mayor Rosemary Baker-Monaghan and City Manager Mark Winstanley visited Wysong at her home and presented a plaque on behalf of all city councilors in appreciation of her dedicated service to Seaside. The mayor also presented a 2002 Distinguished Service Award "in recognition and thanks for exemplary service."
In a letter to Wysong, the mayor commended her assistance in the city overcoming political turmoil, developing effective partnerships with the Seaside Chamber of Commerce and the school district and supporting the Neawanna Natural History Park.
"Your passion for history, arts and culture will long be remembered," the mayor added. "Your ability to thoroughly debate the pros and cons of every issue helped us make decisions for the best possible future of Seaside."
She saluted Wysong's ability to vote according to her heart as "an example to future city councilors for years to come.
"Thank you for your dedication, your sense of humor and your unwavering willingness to give to this community."
A memorial service for Kathleen Forsythe Wysong is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday at Seaside Christian Church, 88786 Dellmoor Loop Road. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Northwest Performing Arts Inc. at P.O. Box 401, Seaside, 97138; or to the North Coast Land Conservancy, P.O. Box 566, Astoria, OR 97103.