Irene R. Deaton of Newport was a typical mother – sort of.
She enjoyed reading storybooks, baking cookies, preparing sumptuous meals and creating fond memories with her eight children. But when she stepped out of her house to look up and down the streets of Newport, she realized not all children and their families were living with that same sense of safety or community. The notion that strip clubs and triple-X movie theaters were allowed to reside on the same blocks as families infuriated her.
"She wanted her family to be raised in a neighborhood and believed all children should be raised in a good environment. She became proactive," said her daughter, Beth Mitchell of Erlanger.
Mrs. Deaton was the first woman elected to the Newport City Commission in 1972. She was then elected as the city's mayor from 1980-84, the first and only woman to serve to date.
Mrs. Deaton died from Alzheimer's disease March 8 at Carmel Manor Nursing Home in Fort Thomas. She was 75.
In 1983, she told The Enquirer about her first campaign in 1971. She said, "I was different. I went door to door instead of bar to bar."
"She was a part of the new wave of city government," said Paul Twehues, former Campbell County Attorney. "She had a perspective of what she wanted Newport to look like, and she gave us the 'guns' we needed to get the job done."
The "guns" were city ordinances banning nudity and pornography. If a strip club was found in violation, law officials were able to use state law to enforce the ordinances and remove the clubs.
During the 1970s, the words "strip club" were synonymous with prostitution. These strip clubs and the Cinema X were the final vestiges of Newport's notorious "sin city" reputation.
Her daughter said when she was in her early teens, her mother received bomb threats. She said they had to leave their home and go up the street to wait while the bomb squad swept the house.
"She was down to earth and guileless," said Thomas J. Fromme, the current city manager of Newport. "She was straightforward and stood strong in the face of contentious issues."
"She was a great role model, a woman of honesty and integrity, and I am so happy she was our mom."
When Mrs. Deaton left office, she made an unsuccessful bid for county commissioner. Afterward, she decided to become a real-estate agent. She helped set up neighborhood watches and continued to serve the community by becoming an advocate for children through the Northern Kentucky Head Start Program. She was a member of Holy Spirit Church and the Lawler Hanlon VFW Ladies Auxiliary, both in Newport.
Her son, Charles "Chuck" Deaton, and brothers, Daniel and Thomas Cottingham, died previously.
Along with her daughter, survivors include sons Mark Deaton of Newport, James Deaton of Bellevue and Doug Ollier of Newport; daughters Peggy Schultz, Karen Griffis and Mary Ann Curtis, all of Alexandria; and Mercedes "Lynn" Deaton of Melbourne; 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Services have taken place. Dobbling, Muehlenkamp-Erschell Funeral Home, Newport, handled arrangements. Burial is in St. Stephen Cemetery, Fort Thomas.
Memorials: Carmel Manor Nursing Home, 100 Carmel Manor Road, Fort Thomas, KY 41075.
Online condolences to www.dmefuneral.com.
Published in the Kentucky Enquirer from March 15 to March 16, 2013