Nehalem Mayor and longtime public servant Shirley Kalkhoven, 87, has died. She was found unresponsive in her home Monday and was rushed to Providence Seaside Hospital, where doctors determined she had suffered a stroke, according to local news reports.

“I have served several mayors in my 25 years, and she was everything a mayor should be and more,” Nehalem City Manager Dale Shafer said. “She’s going to be irreplaceable.”

Kalkhoven served as the city’s mayor for 10 years and served on the Nehalem City Council for 10 years before that. In August, the state of Oregon honored her with the Mayor’s Leadership Award, for which Shafer nominated her.

Kalkhoven’s civic roles and accomplishments are extensive.

She was the immediate past president of the Oregon Mayor’s Association and a past president of the League of Oregon Cities. She was a member of the Northwest Regional Solutions Advisory Council and Chairwoman of the Tillamook County Futures Council.

In addition, she had been the chairwoman of the Northwest Area Commission on Transportation since 2007, chairwoman of the League of Oregon Cities Water Wastewater Policy Committee, a member of the League of Oregon Cities Transportation Committee and a member of the Board of Col-Pac Economic Development Commission, representing Tillamook County small cities, according to Shafer’s nomination letter.

The list goes on.

“She was a tiger,” State Sen. Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) wrote in an email to a reporter. “The 17th Street Pier is a result of Shirley’s participation in the Connect Oregon process. There was a deep connection between Astoria and Shirley’s work on transportation. Tillamook County has lost a ferocious advocate on transportation and other issues.”

“She is one of the most amazing women that I have ever known,” said her friend Tillamook County Commissioner Mark Labhart. He noted how rare it is for a person in her 80s to be as “active and vibrant and engaged in her community, in her county and in her state” as was Kalkhoven. “I wish we could all strive to achieve what she has done, to be as active as she has been.”

A memorial service was held at the Port of Tillamook Bay Officers Mess Hall in Tillamook on March 22.


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