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Former Cloverdale City Manager Nina Regor was at the helm of the city during challenging economic times, her five-year tenure coinciding with the onset of the recession and its lingering aftermath.

Regor, 51, who left Cloverdale at the end of January to take a job as the top administrator for Camas, Wash., died Sunday at her home there.

The cause was metastatic uterine cancer, according to the Clark County Medical Examiner in Vancouver, Wash.

Regor was in attendance at the Sept. 16 meeting of the Camas City Council, before taking medical leave the next week. Her sudden passing stunned City Council members there, who at their meeting on Monday mourned the loss of their city administrator.

"Nina was a kind, thoughtful, dedicated employee and due to her illness, we never were given the time to see the best of her work," Camas Mayor Scott Higgins said in a written statement. "What she did with the short time she had has helped the organization, and we will truly miss her."

"It's very shocking. She was a young woman," said Cloverdale Mayor Joe Palla. "She left in very good stead. She was very well respected and in good physical health as well as anyone knew."

Palla and other City Council members said Regor did a commendable job during a difficult period that began after her arrival in late 2007. The recession and the accompanying decline in property and sales tax revenues led to Cloverdale's general fund dwindling from $11 million annually to about $5 million by the time she left .

The number of employees went from 50 to 39 and also left Regor with little administrative support. Not only was she in charge of overseeing projects, city goals and objectives, she also pursued economic development and grants, and did her own typing and research, Palla said.

Regor was known for her hard work and long hours.

"It wasn't unusual to go by City Hall at 10 o'clock at night and see her light on in her office — if it was Friday and there was work to be done," said Councilwoman Carol Russell. "And it was not unusual to get an email from her on a Sunday afternoon."

Russell, who helped hire Regor, said she had "a wonderful intellect and broad base of knowledge." She said it was hard for Regor to make staff reductions because she was sensitive to employees. "She was a talented personnel woman. She understood the 'human' in human resources," Russell said.

"She helped us through the worst economy in 70 years," said Russell. "It's easy to be city manager when things are going well, not when you're in the Great Recession. It takes a special person to do it with grace, and she did."

Regor began her career as a budget analyst in Gresham, Ore., and rose to become assistant city manager there within 10 years. She then became deputy city manager for the new city of of Spokane Valley, Wash.

When she left Cloverdale, Regor was given credit for helping to facilitate a number of community projects, including the Cloverdale Fire Protection District headquarters, the History Center and the Performing Arts Center.

She took the city administrator job in Camas, saying it would allow her to be nearer to her family, including an aunt and uncle and their children. She also grew up in the area.

Despite Camas being a bigger city with more employees, she took a salary reduction for the job there. It paid $128,000, compared to the $154,000 she earned in Cloverdale.

Higgins said in Regor's short time there, she helped see through financing to complete a new community center. He said she was diagnosed with cancer in late March and underwent chemotherapy and radiation.

"At that point we felt the treatment course she was on was going to work. No one was concerned," he said. "I don't know that she knew or believed she was really fighting for her life until the very end," he said.

True to form, Regor continued to work from home even after going on medical leave.

Regor was never married and had no children. But she was close to her mother, Joan Regor, who for awhile lived with her in Cloverdale.

Regor also attended the Windsor Presbyterian Church and sang there. Her other pursuits outside work included assisting people to learn English as a second language and nurturing literacy, including giving away copies of Harry Potter books to eager young readers.

In addition to her mother, Regor is survived by a sister who lives in Florida and another in Tennessee. Both were at her side toward the end, said Camas Mayor Higgins.

Higgins, who is also a pastor, said she was "at peace."

Regor asked him to lead her memorial service scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 2 at the Journey Community Church in Camas.

— Clark Mason