Longtime Lake Oswego civic leader Dorothy Hope (Frantz) Stafford died Oct. 17 of complications from a fall. She was 97. Dorothy Stafford

Many in the community were saddened to learn of her death. She was a longtime volunteer at the Lake Oswego Public Library, Oregon Public Broadcasting, the Portland Art Museum and for other causes.

“Dorothy was such a bright light — the best company possible,” said longtime friend Bill Baars, director of the Lake Oswego Public Library. “She always made you feel as if you were the most interesting person in the world, even though you knew it was always Dorothy. When Dorothy’s Corner at 10th and Sunningdale was dedicated, I suggested three words for the plaque: Friend, teacher, inspiration. She was all of those things, but of course — hugely — she was so much more. She was vibrant, quick to laugh and always interested in the world. Her motto was ‘why not?’ and spending time with her was being with someone who was endlessly fascinating and endlessly fascinated.”

A small plot at the intersection of Sunningdale Road and 10th Street, next to the Stafford home, was developed by a city street crew and planned by a group of citizens, including Stafford, who passed the space every day during her stroll through the neighborhood. At a dedication in April 2007, Stafford was surprised with a personalized plaque. Flowers, grass and shrubs bloom there year-round.

Originally from Nebraska, Dorothy Hope Frantz met and married William Edgar Stafford in 1944, while he was working in the Civilian Public Service camps operated by the Brethren Service Commission of the Church of the Brethren. The couple had four children and lived in Lake Oswego since 1957.

Stafford was a favorite teacher of two generations of third- and fourth-grade students at Lake Grove and Forest Hills elementary schools in Lake Oswego.

William Stafford would become a famed American poet and activist, who served as the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress in 1970, a position that now carries the title poet laureate. He was named Oregon poet laureate in 1975. He taught at Lewis & Clark College from 1948 to 1980, and, as a professor’s wife, Dorothy Stafford was part of the academic community. She was always a supporter and ambassador of the school.

In May, Lewis & Clark College bestowed upon her an honorary doctorate for her years of support to the school. She and her children bequeathed to the college 20,000 pages of William Stafford’s daily writing, 3,000 publications and 10,000 photo negatives. William Stafford died Aug. 28, 1993.

“She was at the genesis of this institution. She represents its very beginnings to where it is today,” said Doug Erickson, archivist of Lewis & Clark’s Special Collections at a ceremony in May. “By giving her an honorary doctorate here, it’s an opportunity to showcase and honor a living embodiment of who we are and what we did.”

“Dorothy Stafford was so much more than William Stafford’s widow,” said Lake Oswego author Brian Doyle. “She’s a wonderful story. ... She mattered in our town.”

During Lake Oswego’s centennial celebration in 2011, Stafford was named an ambassador of the city.

“We could not have had a better representative, and we should all be proud that she called Lake Oswego home,” said Baars. “It’s wonderful that we will be celebrating her husband for Lake Oswego Reads next year, but we will lament her absence. And, although I think she would want us to savor our time and seek the beauty we have around us, as one of the ‘Friends of Dorothy Stafford,’ I will sorely miss her.”

“A friend of the library is a wonderful thing,” said son, Kim Stafford. “In my Mom’s case, she was a relative of the library.”

Stafford is survived by son, Kim Stafford, Portland; daughters, Barbara Wilson of Portland and Kit Stafford of Sisters; and seven grandchildren. A son, Bret, preceded her in death in 1988.

A celebration of her life will be held Nov. 3 at 3 p.m. at Agnes Flanagan Chapel on the Lewis & Clark College campus.

The 2014 Lake Oswego Reads program will be a celebration of the Centennial of William Stafford, as he would have turned 100 next year.

Barb Randall can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 100. Follow her on Twitter, @barbatthereview.

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