All day Friday we have been hearing from people who knew and admired Lisa Melancon. Their praise illustrates the depth of her commitment to Tacoma.
Below is a sampling of what people had to say about her. Please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section.
From Jeanie Peterson of Hilltop Action Coalition:
“She worked her way up from the office to the field in Code Enforcement. She was famous in the office for handling situations. It was ‘Call Lisa Wilson. She can solve everything.’ Then Lisa became something we can’t pronounce (Melancon). She was always the go-to person in the office. Can you imagine an office staff person with that reputation? She was the Greg Hopkins of Code Enforcement. The first time I met her, it was ‘So you’re Lisa Wilson.’ “
From Cathy Barta of the Mann Neighborhood Safe Streets group.
“Our neighborhood’s changed. The people in the neighborhood were doing things, but it’s also the people who support us. Between her and (Tacoma Police Community Liaison Officer) Don Williams, they were always competing to be the best city employees. She loved her job. It was important to to get things done. If somebody needed help, she helped them. Boy. She was the best code enforcement officer out there. It will take somebody awful big to fill her shoes.”
From Carole Wolfe of City of Tacoma Code Enforcement:
“She lived what she worked. She had integrity She was lucky enough to do by day what she would do anyway. She was like a natural den mother. She was always looking out for kids, working with people to negotiate solutions. One of her colleagues said she spoke with everyone with complete respect no matter the neighborhood or the economic situation. That was one of the things that made her so valuable as a city employee. You can’t get better than that.
“The other thing so many people have said is that she had the brightest smile and the brightest eyes. She always said hello, and she was always cheerful. She was the first woman code inspector.”
From Allyson Griffith, City of Tacoma:
“She really could explain to people why it was important to make a cleaner Tacoma. ‘Here’s why we are asking you to do this. We care about Tacoma and care about the way it looks.’
“On the city staff, everybody loves her from the police officers to the garbage haulers. Everybody loves her.
“She was the face of code enforcement. She’d get it done, but in a way that made everybody feel good at the end of the day. She was a great, great lady.”
From Eric Anderson, Tacoma City Manager:
“This is a terrible thing. She was so important to everyone she worked with and to the work to which we are all committed. Such a loss. If you asked what the staff side of Community Based Service or Safe and Clean should look and act like, Lisa would have been the example you would use to demonstrate the very best. Her personality and competence, combined with her commitment to making Tacoma better, made her a role model for public service. We will miss her every day.”
From Leslie Young, Whitman Area Neighbors:
“I loved working with Lisa and being in meetings with her because of her soft-spoken, sweet nature in a code enforcement job that also required a toughness and strength, which she also clearly possessed. She always seemed to be able to balance the two sides perfectly. She was such a sweet, caring woman. Her smile could fill a whole room and she always had a unique comment to share with all of us in each meeting. She made me laugh numerous times. She had a pretty face and beautiful eyes and I will miss working with her very much.”
From Gia Casto, Pacific Avenue Business District
“We all loved how she just jumped in and took over clean-up of blight in our area and coming to community meetings after hours just to hear us tell her what needed to be done. Just Wednesday I was walking my dogs and speaking with a neighbor who lives across the street from a foreclosed house, and I mentioned that someone had finally gotten the waist-high weeds mowed. He told me, ‘Lisa did it.’ Th ewhole community is grieving and wondering if we have all become so hardened that if we see trouble outside our doors we need to stay barricades in and not help. This is a very sad day for many people. Tears are in my eyes as I write this.”
From Joe Lonergan, Tacoma City Council, District 5:
“Lisa was dedicated to making Tacoma a better place. As an employee and a resident, she exemplified the philosophy of community and government partnership that she helped implement through our Community Based Services program. She touched many lives and had the respect and appreciation of those she helped. The neighborhoods and communities she worked with are better today because of her work. I have no doubt that the men and women she worked with in the city and the community will remember her and honor her as they continue on in the efforts she championed.”