More than 200 people came out to the Albany Senior Center Thursday to remember Katie Nooshazar, who for the past 31 years worked in the city Parks & Recreation Department. She died Monday, Oct. 2. She was 59.
The center was filled with people, some laughing, all with tears, or the remnants of them in their eyes. Some came from as far away as Tennessee to pay their respects.
"It warms my heart to see so many people who know Katie," said Parks and recreation director Ed Hodney. "I don't say knew, but know Katie."
Nooshazar came to the department in 1986. In 2002, when parks director Dave Clark died and she was named interim director, Hodney described her as the "Comforter-in-Chief" for the staff during that difficult time.
"Katie was the perfect person for that role," he said.
Hodney also described Nooshazar's extensive resume and list of accomplishments, which include creating the Northwest Art and Air Festival, River Rhythms, and a litany of other programs and events too numerous to list.
"I want you all to imagine what Albany would look like if Katie hadn't stopped by," said Hodney.
Former city attorney Jim Delapoer also spoke, telling the gathering that while he has been to his share of memorials, when he heard of Katie's passing, he experienced an emotion he did not expect.
"I thought, somewhat selfishly, that the world will not be as fun a place without her," he said.
Delapoer also said that while Katie was fun, she was also a solid leader and an effective business woman. Next, he told the story of a festival convention in Seaside that involved an after-hours party to which the police were called because of a noise complaint.
Delapoer said that as a conservative and straight-laced lawyer, he did not attend the party, but because city attorney Sean Kidd had no trouble going, he relayed the story to Delapoer. He said that now-famous incident gave way to another one of Katie's accomplishments: a tongue-in-cheek accolade called the 419 award.
"I guess it's awarded for turning a negative situation into a positive, and you can't go to jail," he said.
Delapoer ended with a remark about Katie's value to the community when he said, "I think it's gonna be pretty tough to replace her."
Katie's best friend since her college days, Rhenae Lengle, who came down from Olympia, Wash. with her husband, Steve, told stories of pranks and fun.
"Katie's my very best friend, and she had a dark side," joked Lengle. "I'll never have a friend like her."
Lengle's husband played on the guitar and sang the song, "Will the Circle be unbroken."
Lengle also quoted from an e.e. cummings poem, "I carry your heart with me (I carry it in my heart), I am never without it, everywhere I go."
Katie is survived by her husband of 34 years, Farhad Nooshazar.
Contributions in Katie Nooshazar's name may be made payable to Albany Area Seniors Incorporated, P.O. Box 490, Albany, OR, 97321-0144.