Janet Sitton, a longtime Forestville resident who served on the school board and was president of the PTA, has died. She was 73.

Sitton was elected to the school board in 1976, beating out former Sonoma County Supervisor Ernie Carpenter by four votes, said her husband of 51 years, Gary Sitton.

She served until 1981 and in recent years was on the town's water board.

When Carpenter was elected to the Board of Supervisors, Sitton joked that if he didn't do a good job, she would run against him, her husband said.

"She was very outgoing and very active," said her husband. "I'd say Janet was a born leader."

Sitton was born in Iowa in 1939 and moved to Forestville when she was 4 years old. She was raised by her adoptive parents, the late Marda and Robert Aldridge.

She grew up in a pink Victorian house on Covey Road, just south of El Molino High. She met her husband as a student there in 1956. She went to Santa Rosa Junior College and later transferred to San Jose State along with her sweetheart.

The couple was married in 1961 and had two children. Their daughter, Patricia Sitton, now lives in Laguna Beach. Their son Todd, a former high school track star, was killed in a 1984 bicycle accident on Bohemian Highway.

Sitton worked in the banking industry after college and later became a real estate agent.

The family lived briefly in Reno and Hawaii before settling in Forestville in the 1960s.

Sitton was involved in many aspects of the community. In addition to serving on the PTA and school boards, she was a Little League organizer. She worked to raise awareness of unsafe bicycling roads after her son's death.

In 1986, she and her brother Barry, now of Santa Rosa, shared the town's "Citizen of the Year" award.

Sitton announced to family members in 2008 that she had been suffering lung disease for at least three years. Her health continued to fail until this fall, when she became house-bound except for doctor visits. She told family that she wanted to make it through the holidays and she did, her husband said.

"Janet took care of me for 47 years and I took care of her for four," her husband said. "I got the better deal."

In addition to her husband, daughter and brother, Sitton is survived by her other brother, David of Sebastopol, sister Betty Pownall of San Jose and a granddaughter.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Feb. 2 at Forestville United Methodist Church. A reception will follow.

The family asks that donations be made instead of flowers to the Todd Sitton Memorial Fund, El Molino High School, Forestville.

— Paul Payne