Pat Dando, a former San Jose vice mayor remembered for her advocacy and tireless work ethic, will be honored with a bronze sculpture at the Almaden Library and Community Center next year.
The idea for the sculpture took shape at Dando’s memorial service held after the beloved politician and community advocate died from lung cancer in July 2017 at the age of 71. It’s a tribute that seems appropriate on a number of levels, friends said.
“She loved art,” said Bill Baron, a longtime friend of Dando’s who is leading fundraising efforts for the project. Baron noted that Dando would often seek out bronze sculptures while on vacation with her husband, Bob. So the choice of material just made sense.
The location of the statue also holds significance. It will be located in front of the library, a project she supported while on the council, Baron said.
The project is driven by a committee of 20 community members who were either friends of Dando’s or at least knew her over a span of decades. It is co-chaired by current San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo along with former mayors Chuck Reed and Tom McEnery.
Reed served on the council with Dando when she was vice mayor and continued to work with her after she became the president and chief executive officer of the San Jose Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, which is now known as the silicon valley organization.
“She was a great, strong woman,” Reed said. “It’s good to have a statue made for her, it would be a good addition to the city.”
The sculpture itself will feature Dando sitting on a bench with two children. Next to the sculpture, organizers envision a boulder-encased plaque that includes a short summary of Dando’s life. A QR code will be included to direct readers to a website containing more information about her life, personality and accomplishments.
“The website will be full of inspiring information encouraging those visiting about the importance of ethics, importance of education, to be friendly and polite, to care about your fellow citizen and to become engaged in the community and to serve in leadership roles,” Baron told San José Spotlight on Friday.
The group set a fundraising goal of at least $350,000 for the project, with $250,000 going toward the sculpture and the remainder pegged for an endowment to the San Jose Public Library for children’s educational programming.
Baron says the group hopes to continue funding the endowment on an annual basis. The committee had raised $360,000 as of Friday. Additional donations will now benefit the endowment fund for future years.
Dando served on the San Jose City Council for 10 years beginning in 1995. She became vice mayor for two years during former Mayor Ron Gonzales’s term. Before that, Dando worked for McEnery during his second mayoral term which began in the late 1980s.
Before immersing herself into politics later in life, Dando worked as a school teacher in Schenectady, New York. After her family’s move to San Jose, Dando focused on her raising her children and became a strong advocate for improving the local schools and surrounding community, according to her obituary.
The mother of three co-founded the Almaden Valley Youth Counseling Center and the Almaden Valley Art and Wine Festival.
Dando also has been credited for her role in financing the construction of the city’s SAP Center, which is home to the San Jose Sharks. The project passed by just a few votes during Dando’s time on the council.
Baron described Dando as a unique person in her ability to touch others and embrace the “it takes a village” mentality. She never took sole credit for projects she had a hand in, Baron said.
“She sort of instilled a certain set of values that we now carry forward,” Baron added. “Pat continues to give back through the hundreds of people that she touched.”
Those interested in contributing to the endowment can write a check to the Almaden Valley Women’s Club, a nonprofit which is operating as the fiscal agent for the project, and mail it to Bill Baron, Partner, Bradenburg Properties at 1122 Willow Street, Suite 200 in San Jose.
The sculpture is expected to be established by March 2020.
Contact Carina Woudenberg at [email protected] or follow @carinaew on Twitter.