Christine Marie Arnold, a 40-year civil servant and past director of Sonoma County's planning department, has died. She was 64.

Arnold, who had retired to Eugene, Ore., died Oct. 13 from brain cancer.

She was director of the county's Permit and Resource Management Department from 1997 to 2002, a turbulent time following the agency's formation in 1995. She replaced Jane Soloman-McGee, who was fired in 1997.

"She had a calming influence over things," said Pete Parkinson, the current department head and deputy director under Arnold. "She really set us on our feet as an organization."

Arnold left Sonoma County after receiving a presidential appointment to become director of administration for the Peace Corps.

Arnold was born and raised in Southern California.

She began her career as a budget analyst for San Bernardino County and later served as principal staff analyst in Orange County. She was director of the California Department of Aging and chief administrative officer in Humboldt County before coming south to Sonoma County.

Arnold took over the newly formed PRMD, which combined services from five different departments — planning, public works, the water agency, engineering and health.

She encouraged teamwork and helped the department grow from 95 employees in 1995 to a high of 168 in 2007. Budget cuts have since reduced staffing to 102.

"Chris was really a gentle soul," Parkinson said. "Yet she was also very determined. You don't work as a government employee for 40 years without developing the determination to get things done."

Parkinson said she retired from the Peace Corps in about 2005 and moved with her husband Richard C. Rogers to Oregon.

Rogers said in a written notice that she was known for her public service, remembering everyone's birthday, her crocheting and her baking skills.

"She was a wise and talented woman, who helped many through both actions and example," he said. "The sense of loss for her family and friends is inexpressible."

In addition to her husband, Arnold is survived by her daughter Lori Little of California, son Scott Arnold of Texas and four grandchildren. She's also survived by her mother, Helen, and sister Diana Silva, also of California.

Services will be held at a later time. The family requested donations to Forgotten Felines of Sonoma County or the American Cancer Society, directed to brain cancer research.