Kent Senior Center manager Lea Bishop dies after fight with cancer

Worked 38 years for the city of Kent

Lea Bishop

Lea Bishop

Lea Bishop, who managed the Kent Senior Activity Center for more than 30 years, has died.

Bishop, 69, passed away peacefully Nov. 13 at her Enumclaw home after an 18-month fight with cancer, according to her obituary released by the family last week. She worked 38 years at the Senior Center, most of them as the facility’s manager.

“Lea Bishop was an exceptional co-worker, an incredible human being and a dear friend to many,” said Lori Hogan, city recreation and cultural services superintendent, in an email Tuesday. “She fought her illness the way she lived her life, with strength, courage, grace and dignity.”

A celebration of life is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 17, at the Senior Center, 600 E. Smith St. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made in her name to the Senior Center for a memorial project to be determined or to the Old Dog Haven of Western Washington at olddoghaven.org or Old Dog Haven, P.O. Box 1409, Oak Harbor, WA, 98277.

Bishop loved breeding and showing dogs and brought home numerous awards and ribbons. She also had a passion for travel photography, and took many photos during trips to South America, Asia, Europe and Africa.

At the Senior Center, Bishop was a trendsetter who made sure activity remained the focus for the facility, Hogan said. Bishop was instrumental in several projects, including a building expansion and creation of a fitness center with equipment specific to the physical needs of seniors; and starting up a cafe-style lunch program with a low price that serves hundreds of seniors and non-seniors each week.

“Lea was a force at the Senior Center for 38 years,” Hogan said. “Senior programs and services flourished under her leadership. She assembled and led a talented staff of professionals who provide active, interesting, and meaningful programs and services. She set high performance standards for herself and those she worked with, demonstrating daily the city’s fundamental values of integrity, communication, teamwork, innovation, achievement and caring.”

Bishop served multiple terms on the Board of Directors of the Washington State Association of Senior Centers, worked tirelessly on conference committees and spoke or facilitated at conference sessions where she shared knowledge and experience with up and coming professionals. She received the Washington State Association of Senior Centers Professional of the Year Award in 2003.

“She was respected. She was loved. She will be missed,” Hogan said.

Bishop was born Nov. 23, 1948 in Burbank, Calif. She graduated from Van Nuys High School in California and UCLA. She moved to Washington in 1980 to begin a job with the city of Kent. Survivors include Emerson Bishop, her husband of 27 years.

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