Wednesday, April 7, 2004, 2:25 p.m.
Mountain View Voice founder, publisher
Kate Wakerly remembered
as community leader, philanthropist
by Julie O'Shea
Mountain View Voice co-founder and former publisher Kate Wakerly,
whose devotion to local civic philanthropy spanned two decades,
died Monday after a long battle with breast cancer. She was 56.
From her determination to bring the city its first independent
community newspaper to her strong commitment to schools, civil liberties
and numerous other charitable causes, Wakerly's dedication to Mountain
View was all-encompassing. Her vision lived on through the St. Joseph
the Worker Center -- a haven for day laborers looking for jobs --
and the inquisitiveness of budding, young reporters.
Wakerly, who raised three children in Mountain View, was diagnosed
with cancer six years ago, but friends and family say she refused
to let the disease slow her down, stopping by the newsroom often
to offer story ideas or a tantalizing news scoop.
"She was kind of the mother hen of the Voice," said Managing Editor
Candice Shih, who was hired by Wakerly as an intern three years
ago. "I never felt too worried or too stressed when she was around."
But as much as Wakerly loved the Voice, the newspaper was third
on her list of greatest accomplishments, said her husband John.
Number 1 was her three kids -- Gina, Michael and Susanne -- followed
by her drive to "do good in the community."
A native of Chicago, Wakerly moved west with John more than 30
years ago, eventually earning a master's degree in communications
from Stanford University. After graduating, she began her professional
career in journalism with the Sun Newspapers chain, where she quickly
moved from reporter to managing editor.
"She's just a wonderful person," Mountain View City Manager Kevin
Duggan said. "You couldn't talk to her without feeling her warmth
and her interest in you -- it's just a tremendous loss."
Duggan met Wakerly in 1990. He was new to the city, and she was
editor of the city-funded monthly, The View. Shortly after, Wakerly
left to pursue her dream of starting her own publication.
"She was totally dedicated to Mountain View. Mountain View was
her community, and she wanted nothing but the very best," Voice
Publisher Tom Gibboney said. "She wanted the city to have its own
paper, and by God, she did it."
In 1994, Wakerly and her business partner, Carol Torgrimson, decided
to sell their newspaper to the Embarcadero Publishing Co., which
also owns the Palo Alto Weekly and the Menlo Park Almanac.
"Kate's commitment to quality journalism and to improving the
Mountain View community has been an inspiration to everyone that
has worked with her." Weekly Publisher Bill Johnson said. "She especially
loved mentoring young reporters, and her enthusiasm was contagious.
"Through her leadership of the Voice, her many volunteer activities,
and the generosity of her family foundation, Kate has left an amazing
legacy to the Mountain View community."
Taking time out to travel around the world and spend time with
her family, Wakerly returned as publisher of the Voice in 2000 before
finally retiring two years later.
Still, even as her days became more consumed with medical treatment,
Wakerly, ever cheerful, pushed on, looking for another challenge
to tackle or another exotic vacation to plan.
"We packed more into the last six years than most people do in
a lifetime," John said.
Last year alone, Wakerly logged nearly 50,000 frequent flier miles
and oversaw the construction plans of a new school and convent in
a poor Nigerian community.
The generosity of the Wakerly Family Foundation, started by Kate
and John in 1995, was recognized in February when Kate received
the Leadership in Philanthropy award from the Sisters of Notre Dame
In addition to her husband and three children, Wakerly is survived
by her sister, Mary Ann Kropp.
A memorial service has already been held.
The family asks that contributions be made to a charity or organization
of one's own choosing. For more information, visit the family's
foundation Web site at www.wakerly.org.