Almanac

News - September 11, 2013

City moves ahead with Cate Fisher memorial

by Sandy Brundage

Two years after she died, plans to formally remember Menlo Park gymnastics instructor Cate Fisher on the grounds of the center where she loved to teach are finally underway, according to city staff.

The 19-year-old woman taught for the city for nearly three years before she was shot and killed in July 2011. Although a tree was planted outside the gymnastics center and an insider area was set aside as "Cate's Corner," neither had any indication that they were in memory of the popular young instructor, contrary to what residents, family members and some staff expected.

Staff emails obtained by the Almanac suggested that personnel conflicts between gymnastics supervisors and Michelle Sutton, Cate's mother, who had also taught for the city until abruptly being fired earlier this year, derailed plans for a memorial.

Now Community Services Director Cherise Brandell confirmed that a sign for "Cate's Corner" has been ordered, as well as a plaque for the crepe myrtle tree that was planted in the instructor's memory.

"We are hoping to have them in time for a dedication by the family scheduled for October 26," Ms. Brandell said in an email on Sept. 5.

Ms. Sutton said that within 24 hours of the Almanac's story about the delays in creating a memorial, she received an email from gymnastics manager Pearce Wagner saying he had been instructed to take charge of and expedite the project.

"Thank you, again, for honoring Cate's memory both inside and outside the gymnastics center. She would be, as we are, truly touched by this gesture," Ms. Sutton replied to his email.

She told the Almanac that she was both "thrilled and grateful" that the plans were finally underway, and that the family is willing to pay for associated expenses.

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