Community mourns loss of longtime aide, swim teacher
Those who knew Laurie Maitland told the News-Times she was compassionate, kind, grateful, positive and adaptable.
The longtime employee of the Forest Grove School District and Forest Grove Aquatic Center died recently.
Maitland spent a lifetime teaching young children how to swim, leading adult water aerobics classes and working as a special education aide at Forest Grove High School for many years.
Maitland, 70, was a breast cancer survivor and suffered from Parkinson's disease for many years, according to longtime friend Doris Inkley, who met Maitland in the 1970s.
Maitland loved teaching swimming lessons, Inkley said, having first gotten into the gig when her children competed on swimming teams.
"She taught a lot of young people to swim in this community — hundreds," said Forest Grove Parks & Recreation Director Tom Gamble, who met Maitland in the 1980s when she signed up for the first lifeguard training class he ever taught.
Maitland was always willing to try new techniques and adapted her teaching style to the times, Gamble said.
"She was a people person," he said. "She loved the kids and parents."
Former aquatic center manager Paul Waterstreet said patrons "would always ask to be in Laurie's class. She was great at her job and passed on her enthusiasm."
Maitland particularly loved teaching children 5 years old and younger as well as students with disabilities.
"It takes a special person to not treat them like they're different or like there's something wrong with them," Inkley said of Maitland's students with varied abilities. "She was just a compassionate person."
That compassion showed up in her work in the classroom; FGSD's Community Based Activities Program, an inclusive summer program for youth with and without disabilities; and Adventures Without Limits, a local nonprofit that takes young people of all abilities on outdoor adventures.
"She was always willing to give extra time," said Forest Grove School Board member Brad Bafaro, who worked with Maitland when he was a special eduction teacher. "She always thought about the kids first, then herself second."
Bafaro remembers one time he, Maitland and a few other staffers took a group of special education students — some with walkers and wheelchairs — on a hike up the steep Saddle Mountain in the Oregon Coast Range.
"Laurie was willing to do what needed to be done to make that work," he said.
Maitland also loved going on her own adventures, Inkley said. She enjoyed kayaking, skiing, running, racing dragon boats and even the occasional motorcycle ride.
Scott Maitland — Laurie Maitland's son, who lives in Milwaukie but grew up in Forest Grove — still remembers the eight-week camping trips at Loon Lake their family took in the summers when he was growing up.
"She never sat still and she was always up for everything," Scott Maitland said. "We were not a family that sat around and watched TV."
Her passion for exploring and trying new things stands out to Scott Maitland now that his mother is gone, he told the News-Times as he drove his young son up to explore Mount Hood.
"That was one of her greatest influences on my life," he said, "having that childhood of get-up-and-go."
Maitland also had an artistic side, Inkley said, having participated in a tole painting group for decades. She was a dedicated gardener who enjoyed preserving what she grew.
The friends enjoyed many camping and beach trips together. They also weathered life's ups and downs together: health problems, raising children, divorces and remarrying.
"We're all going to miss her," Inkley said. "It's still a shock that she's gone."
A celebration of life for Maitland will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Forest Grove Elks Lodge, 2810 Pacific Ave.
Note: This story has been updated with the corrected name Paul Waterstreet. The story originally said George Waterstreet.
By Stephanie Haugen
Reporter, Forest Grove News-Times
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