Former Mayor Rosemary Stasek, known locally as an exemplary public servant, died Thursday morning in Afghanistan at age 46. A memorial service has been scheduled for noon on Oct. 23 at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts.
Stasek moved to Kabul in 2006 and founded the nonprofit "...a little help," which sought to empower women through education.
A close friend of Stasek's in Mountain View, Dennis Fischette, said that Stasek went into cardiac arrest in a German clinic in Kabul, where she was being treated for multiple sclerosis, an illness which was causing her health to decline.
"It's a real tragic loss," said Kevin Duggan, city manager. "She was really someone devoted to the Mountain View community. It is unfortunate that at such a young age this occurred, but more importantly she won't be in the world now to do her good work. It is just a very tragic and sad thing."
Flags will fly at half mast at city buildings through Tuesday in memory of Stasek. Those who knew her can record their thoughts and memories about Stasek in a book in the city clerk's office on the third floor of City Hall.
Stasek spent eight years on the City Council -- from 1996 to 2004. She prioritized making the city a more inclusive place and was instrumental in obtaining benefits for domestic partners of city employees. Former members of the city's Youth Advisory Group remember her as someone who listened to the group's concerns.
Though it never passed, Stasek worked hard on an ordinance to preserve the city's historic buildings. She was also an advocate for open space and parks. "Trees in Mountain View have had no greater friend than Rosemary Stasek," Duggan once said.
Stasek had been visiting Afghanistan off and on since a visit in 2002 with a group of young Afghans from the Bay Area. She supported a unique beauty school in Afghanistan that was the only place many women could gather. She began writing a book about the school that was never published.
Stasek found her work in Afghanistan meaningful enough that she did it in the face of significant obstacles. In a public talk on Sept. 11 of last year, Stasek told Mountain View residents that she often felt that her life was in danger there and would sometimes find the tires on her car, likely the only one in the country driven by a woman, slashed. She once told a magazine reporter that she faced intimidating verbal comments from men an average of six times a day.
"The irony is being in Kabul with everything going on there, and it's her health that gets her," said a shocked council member Mike Kasperzak, who served on the council for six years with Stasek.
The Voice summarized Stasek's eight years on the City Council when she retired in 2004.
MSNBC produced a TV news segment about Stasek's work in Afghanistan, available here.
More can be found about Stasek's work in Afghanistan on her Web site: www.stasek.com/alittlehelp