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Cancer claims beloved Rogue River volunteer


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Cancer claims beloved Rogue River volunteer

Co-workers, family praise Hope Warren as 'tremendous person'

By sanne specht

Mail Tribune

ROGUE RIVER — The sorrow was palpable at City Hall as friends and co-workers of Hope Warren absorbed the news of her death Monday from lung cancer.

Warren, 58, worked for the community in Rogue River for more than 20 years. First hired as an office assistant, Warren eventually became the city's planner, then its financial officer. Warren also spearheaded many local volunteer activities, such as painting homes for the needy, creating a recycling program for at-risk teens and helping form a girls' softball team at Rogue River High School.

"Whenever there was a need, there was Hope to fill that need," said City Councilwoman Jo Anne Mead.

Diagnosed with lung cancer in June, Warren's battle has been inspiring to those who knew and loved her, they said. At first, Warren returned to City Hall regularly to put in a few hours of work after enduring radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

But Warren's visits to city offices became less frequent as the treatments failed to subdue the cancer. Co-workers remained hopeful Warren would somehow beat the odds and return to work. Her name remains on the schedule board, and her many Jackson County and Rogue River community service awards hang on the walls of her cubicle.

"If anyone could do it, it seemed like it would be Hope," said Mead.

Her husband, Craig Warren, described his wife of 36 years as "a rare gem" and his "compass."

"I remember what she was wearing the first day I saw her," said Craig Warren. "It was an A-line dress and an angora sweater." They met in high school in Southern California, and married soon after he returned from service in Vietnam, he said. At age 21, Hope Warren was already volunteering, spending her after-work hours at a children's hospital in California, he said. She soon had him helping out, too, he added.

"She was naive and beguiling at the same time," Craig Warren said. "You just don't say 'no' to Hope."

The pair traveled the West Coast before settling in the Rogue River area with their three daughters. Craig Warren said they recently had been talking about slowing down and enjoying life at their Wimer home with their five grandchildren "plus another one on the way."

Just before Christmas, the Warren family was notified that Lori Armstrong and members of "Team Hope" would be carrying on one of Hope Warren's 15-year, good Samaritan endeavors: visiting shut-in seniors, those who had recently lost relatives and anyone else she figured might benefit from a cheery smile and a bright red rose.

Warren's daughter Melissa Warren-Benbow had joined her mother in the Christmas Eve tradition in recent years. Her own children also participated, bringing a smile to the faces of her mother's "extended family," she said.

"I'm proud of my mom and everything she's done," said Warren-Benbow.

"She really was a tremendous person," said City Planner Laurel Prairie-Kuntz. "She had a great life and it really isn't fair. But the best thing we can do is honor her for what she did and remember the good times we had together."

Services are pending. The family is setting up a "Team Hope" foundation for cancer research, Warren-Benbow said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com

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