As community leaders and residents watched on, Kim Lisk and members of the Carnation City Council unveiled the new and improved Tolt Avenue in a grand ribbon cutting ceremony.
It’s a huge moment for the city and a fitting end for Lisk, a longtime community advocate. After spending four years as mayor, Lisk officially resigned Sept. 1, preparing a move to Green Valley, Arizona, after 28 years of living in town.
But being on council for almost the past decade only tells part of Lisk’s devotion to the city.
Whether it was the senior center, Fourth of July Committee, Chamber or the other countless initiatives she got behind, Lisk rarely ever said no when there was an opportunity to serve — and she was beloved for it.
“I’ve never met someone who serves so much. You just give and give and give,” Carnation Councilmember Adair Hawkins told Lisk at a recent council meeting. “No one’s ever going to take your place. Your entire family — I don’t know what Carnation will do without the Lisks.”
Lisk, who works as a swimming instructor, attributed her community service beginnings to the Eastman-Rush pool proposal, an effort to bring a community pool to the city that Lisk spent five years working on. From there, she said, her investment continued to evolve.
After attending community steak dinner nights being hosted by the Sno-Valley Senior Center, Lisk’s son, who was 8 at the time, asked if they could volunteer as servers.
“I had this 8-year-old and myself and I don’t know how many years we were there, [but] we lived around Saturdays once a month and made sure we were at the senior center,” she said.
Around the same time, Lisk also joined the PTA at her son’s school — a role she didn’t give up until last year. She also started worked on planning committees for Carnation Fourth of July beginning in 1996 and Christmas in Carnation beginning in 2002.
“I think that’s the uniqueness of Carnation,” Lisk said. “We have the Sno-Valley Senior Center. We have the Empower Youth Network. We have HopeLink. We have the Special Care Agency. It’s all these agencies that depend on volunteers and by getting involved you just get to know everybody.”
Eventually, in 2014, Lisk was elected to Carnation City Council, where she assumed the role of deputy mayor in 2015, followed by mayor in 2018. Between her and her husband, Stuart, the two have spent well over 20 years serving on the city council.
For Lisk, she said her devotion was driven by hearing the stories of longtime community advocates Howard Miller, Wes Larson and Isabel Jones, who taught her the history of the city, and a personal desire to leave the town better than she found it.
“They bring you in and embrace you so much and give you their history, that there’s no way they can’t impact your life,” she said. “Listening to their stories and how they made a difference, you just always want to make things better.”
The people make Carnation stand out, she said. The Carnation City Council will often talk about what it means to retain a small town feel, and for Lisk, that has less to do with the actual size of the community and more to do within the residents inside it.
Businesses like “Pete’s Club, Carnation Cafe, Ixtapa, people know when to go to these places on which day because they know they’re going to see everybody. I think that’s the beauty of it. It’s like the TV show ‘Cheers,’ ” she said. “You go to Ixtapa on Thursday night and if you haven’t seen somebody, you’ll probably run into them.”
“It’s hard giving all that up and leaving a community that we’ve really embraced as our family,” Lisk said. “I’m saying goodbye to more family than I am friends.”