Ten years after La Cañada Flintridge became its own city, Joan Feehan started her career at City Hall.
A mother of five, she had rallied for the incorporation years before and now was able to protect and build on the community she loved.
In 1986, she became the second woman to serve on the City Council, after Barbara Pieper. She received the most votes in a race between four candidates for three open seats. She went on to become mayor in 1988, and served two more terms.
Later, she inspired others to do the same.
City Councilman Dave Spence remembers when Feehan came up to him at a social function in 1991 and suggested that he run for City Council. He was hesitant, but she persisted.
“She just said, ‘I am going to help you run your campaign,'” he said. “She was very influential.”
Spence was elected to the council the following year.
During her time on the council, Feehan worked on several projects. She pushed to install bus benches around the city, to develop Memorial Park and to put in place safeguards that would prevent city employee retirement benefits from getting out of hand.
Feehan died on Jan. 23 at St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange after battling melanoma cancer, said her husband, Vince Feehan. She was 81.
The couple lived in a home on Hampstead Road for more than 40 years. In recent years, not needing the extra space, they moved to a smaller place in Tustin.
One Hampstead neighbor, Ken Brown, said Feehan was friendly and well-liked, especially by his dog.
He remembers one night when Feehan called out to him and said she had leftovers from dinner. She went outside to the back door and gave his Labrador retriever some steak. From that day on, if there was a light on in the kitchen, he said, his dog would perk up and run to the back door for a treat.
When the Feehans sold the house, they told the people moving in that giving the dog a treat was part of the package. And they have obliged, Brown said.
Brown was the city's attorney when Feehan was on the council.
“She was a very, very solid person,” he said. “Easy to get along with as a member of the council. She worked well with her colleagues and was patient with people.”
Feehan is survived by her children Vince Feehan Jr., Doug Feehan, Susan Willett, Nancy Nygaard and Dan Feehan, and 11 grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 15 at La Cañada Presbyterian Church.