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A Memorial to a Friend in Preservation

By Dale May

In early December Kathy Flanigan passed away after a long battle with cancer.

For more than 20 years, she was involved in historical surveys and studies, along with historic designations, throughout San Diego County. Majoring in history and minoring in Spanish, Kathy graduated with honors from San Diego State University in 1976. She went on to earn a master's degree in 1985 with an emphasis in architectural history at the University of San Diego.

Kathy loved to write and published her first research article "The Baja California Gold Rush of 1889" in 1980 in The Journal of San Diego History. She published many papers and, in 1989, published with her close friend Susan Carrico "San Diego's Historic Gaslamp Quarter: Then and Now." Kathy wrote SOHO's 25th Anniversary book in 1989 as well.

In 2000 when SOHO took over the Whaley House we needed to create a one-page history sheet to hand out to visitors. Kathy, a board member at the time, volunteered to do it, and being the prolific writer she was, kept asking, "Are you sure only one page?" Well, she struggled with the limitation and finally got it down to two pages, which we printed front and back. This is what we still use today for visitors. She also created a lengthy chronology, which is used, in part, to train docents. Kathy also decided to do a ghost chronology. She found out what spirits actually existed in San Diego, much less resided here now. She had a lot of fun with it and helped to dispel decades of myths.

There were so many things she did for SOHO, but her biggest gift was in her spirit and passion for saving our treasures. One of her biggest disappoints was the U.S. Grant Presidential library. That was a big blow to us all, but Kathy could not believe something of such immense national history would be bulldozed. She won many battles as well. She also got some of our greatest sites listed, the San Diego County Administration Building, just one among so many notables. Her lectures were fantastic, and the endless hours of research she gave to others were amazing.

Kathy served two terms on our board of directors .She was a docent year after year at most of our home tours. Kathy was a recipient of our PIP awards for projects she was involved in and received SOHO's 2003 Preservationist of the Year Award.

Her memorial service brought about 300 friends and others in the community who were all touched in some way by our dear Kathy. The personal devastation of losing her will never be able to be put into words by those of us closest to her. Bruce Coons spoke on behalf of SOHO. In part, he said these words, which convey what all who knew and loved her felt.

Kathy was irreplaceable like the historic resources she fought so hard to protect. I only wish we could have protected Kathy the way it is possible to protect historic places. Kathy's work will live on, in the research she has compiled, places she has saved and in the hearts of all the people she helped and all who knew and loved her. We miss her terribly. I can't believe she's not going to be with us tomorrow.

Bruce meant that last sentence both figuratively and literally. After the memorial many of us gathered around and said that the next day's huge battle for the designation of the Coronado Railroad, a battle that Kathy felt so strongly about, we would win for Kathy. Thanks Kathy, you were there with us. We all felt you and we won it together.

2004 - Volume 35, Issue 1

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Coronado Railroad Designated Again


Cinderella Story


Old Enough


The strength of a nation lies in the homes of its people
SOHO Becomes a Partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation

A Partnership to Preserve America


Preservation Action Update


After the Fires


Port Votes to Demolish 40% of the OPHQ


San Diego to Host OHP and CPF Training Workshops

From Lemons to Locomotives & Beyond


Know something About the Hemphill Dance Studio?
S. Kathleen Flanigan Preservation Revolving Fund

A Memorial to a Friend in Preservation


A Formal Groundbreaking


1950s Wrestling & Roller Rink Building to be Razed

SOHO Forms Modernism Committee


Herbert Kunzel Residence Receives Historic Designation
Identification & Evaluation of Mid-20th-Century Buildings

Events & Education Update


Letters to the Editor


2004 Craftsman-Spanish Revival Weekend


People In Preservation


Strength in Numbers


Lost San Diego


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