If anyone ever asks you what good one person can do, tell the story of Pam Card.
Card, who embodied the good citizen, died at home Monday "from one too many combustions of her fabulous heart," as family noted in her obituary. It will take dozens of people to fill the holes that Card's death leaves in numerous civic organizations."She did the work of 10 or 20 people," said Salt Lake police Det. Shane Jones, who worked with Card on a variety of projects.
Card, 41, lived on borrowed time since 1988 when she suffered a heart attack while giving birth to her son, Tim. Diagnosed with Marfan's syndrome, Card was told by her doctors that she had anywhere from five minutes to 10 years to live, friends said.
One characteristic of Marfan's syndrome, a hereditary condition, is a defect in the middle layer of the wall of the aorta, the body's main artery.
With the clock ticking, Card, who had worked as a nurse prior to the birth of her son, devoted herself to her community. Tall and lanky, always trailing a portable oxygen tank, Card became a familiar face at City Hall.
If there was a good idea, something that would improve the neighborhood or community, Card was for it. She devoted time, unbridled enthusiasm and energy to making things happen.
"She knew things would stay ideas unless someone got up and ran with them," said Robin Webb, who worked with Card in the Capitol Hill Community Council. "She was the runner."
Card told friends she wanted to make every moment of what she knew would be a short life count.
She also hoped to create a legacy for her small son.
At the time of her death, Card had served as chairwoman of the Capitol Hill Community Council for the past three years. Among her recent projects was a bid to gain RDA assistance to preserve the neighborhood, creating a true gateway entrance to the city.
The night before she died, Card sat with Hermoine Jex, who served with Card on the community council, whittling names from a mailing list because of a cut in city funds.
"She'd say, "If they've come once, I wouldn't want to leave them out,' " Jex said. "She just wanted to be able to have everyone share in everything."
Card and her neighbors planned the first monthly block party of the summer for this Friday, an event Card launched years ago to bring her neighbors together. The party will go on, just as Card would have wanted, said neighbor Lani Puriri.
Card served on the PTA at Washington Elementary School, her son's school. She was working to create a wetland near the Children's Museum of Utah, and, in fact, planned to leave Monday morning to attend an environmental conference in San Francisco as part of that project.
Card also led efforts over the past 11/2 years to create the Youth Peer Court at West High School, a program that lets specially trained youths mediate minor offenses, such as truancy, committed by their peers. The program reflected her peacemaker approach to problem-solving, said Lori Hargraves, a counselor at West High.
Neighborhood Watch, First Night, Night Out Before First Night - the list of projects to which Card devoted time is seemingly endless.
Card served on boards for the Salt Lake Association of Community Councils, the Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition and Wasatch Fish and Gardens.
Wasatch Fish and Gardens held a special interest for Card. She was instrumental in organizing the Marmalade and Hillside community gardens, now being sown for the third consecutive year. In lieu of flowers for her funeral, Card asked friends to donate to the organization.
Even in contemplating her death, Card showed the depth of her concern for others. Card willed her body to medical researchers at the University of Utah Health Sciences Center. She hoped they might find clues to help others with Marfan's syndrome, friends said.
A celebratory service commemorating Card's life will be held Friday at noon at the First Unitarian Church, 1300 E. 569 South.