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Her spirit and service benefited North End

KINGSTON — No matter her condition, Kathleen Sutton was always working, always trying to make the Little City by the Sea a better place to live. From her tenure as chamber president to making sure Kingston’s historic Independence Day parade went as planned, nothing stopped her from getting the job done.

However, those who worked alongside Sutton in the past will now have to continue these efforts without her leadership.

Sutton died April 19 in Seattle after battling breast cancer for more than six years. She was 60.

She was a vivid character in Kingston as a member of the Kingston Chamber of Commerce, Kingston Kiwanis, Kingston Yacht Club and the Kitsap County Association of Relators. Sutton was very active in working to bring passenger-only ferries to Kingston and served as a member of the local POF committee. She was also the director of Kingston’s famous 4th of July parade in 2001 and 2002.

“I don’t think she had a fear of dying or moving on, I think she had a fear of not getting the jobs done,” said co-worker and friend Sonny Woodward.

The two shared an office in the Kingston John L. Scott building and whenever Sutton would come up with a plan that she felt was important to carry out, Woodward said he couldn’t refuse, regardless whether he agreed with the idea or not.

“The fact that she sat here for the last eight to nine years, I felt like her little brother,” he said with a laugh, noting they almost had a “sibling rivalry” friendship.

Sutton was recognized for her work in the community with various honors, including the Helen Meredith Award for community service, the Don and Ellen Nakata Community Hero Award in 2002 and the John L. Scott Emerald Award.

Aside from making sure Kingston’s chamber was helping the local economy and community events were taking place as scheduled, her professional life was just as busy. Sutton was a real estate broker and owner of Appletree Cove Realty until 1997 when she joined the John L. Scott office in Kingston as a sales associate.

Her other professional careers included working for the Canadian government as a helicopter pilot for fire patrol and animal management. She also ran a helicopter tour program at local fairs in the Northwest. On the water, she assisted and piloted yachts for a yacht delivery service, including transporting the vessels along both the East and West Coasts. Sutton also had a fixed-wing aircraft pilot license and drove race cars in the Powder Puff Derby.

Friends and co-workers said she made a big impact on those who crossed her path.

“She’s a mentor to so many in so many ways,” said co-worker Karla Woodside. “But she proved to me she could make a difference as one person.”

Co-worker Kathy Morris said Sutton had a particularly strong influence on the John L. Scott office.

“She’s always inspired us to be more active as Realtors with community issues,” Morris said.

Sutton’s positive attitude didn’t stop with her cancer diagnosis in 1997. She trusted her doctors so much, she would try any new treatment they would put before her, Woodside said.

“She was willing to try anything with a positive outlook,” Woodside said.

Current Chamber president Tom Waggoner said the thing he will remember the most about Sutton was “her will and efforts to whip the problem she passed away from.”

It will also be hard to find someone with the strength of spirit and community service that she had, he added.

“It’s going to be very hard to replace that,” Waggoner explained. “She was very determined to get things done.”

Sutton was also well-known for annually organizing her “Flo On for the Cure,” team for the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure event in Seattle. Sutton’s team was one of the largest non-corporate fund-raisers for the foundation from 1999 through 2003.

Sutton was also the founder the Flo On Association, a funding source that was established to help breast cancer victims in the Kingston area with costs associated with traveling to and from doctor’s appointments.

While Sutton fought the battle against the disease for nearly seven years, she was determined it was not going to take her life, Woodward said.

“She never, ever let go of that,” he said.

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