Whether it was work or personal life, Chris Redden was all in. She was dedicated and dependable in everything she did. As the longest-serving employee at the Los Altos Town Crier, she embraced every challenge and did whatever it took to get the weekly newspaper off to the printer. And despite the demands of work, Ms. Redden always made sure she had quality time with her family.
For Ms. Redden, 62, who died Sept. 3 after a long illness, the Town Crier was more than a place to go to work. It was a place where she raised her “second family” as the longtime director of advertising services. Described by friends and family as a social butterfly, Ms. Redden combined a friendly demeanor with a get-it-done attitude that endeared her to numerous employees and clients throughout her 44 years with the paper.
“She loved the people she worked with the most,” said her daughter, Stacey McCauley. “She enjoyed getting to know so many of the advertisers in Los Altos and feeling like she was a part of the community. She grew up being part of the paper.”
Town Crier co-publisher Howard Bischoff agreed.
“Chris gave her heart and soul to the Town Crier,” said Bischoff, who worked with Ms. Redden for more than 30 years through multiple owners.
The Cadillac, Mich., native moved out to California when she was 5, and grew up in San Jose, Campbell and Santa Clara. She graduated from Santa Clara High School in 1976. It was during her senior year that she joined the Town Crier, beginning her lifelong profession.
Family members are unclear as to how she got the job, but from the beginning, Ms. Redden was picking up legal notices and other advertising, and helped with the layout of the paper.
“She was a very energetic, lively person who always helped facilitate getting things done,” said Mort Levine, publisher of the Town Crier at the time of Ms. Redden’s hiring. “Ad services is a grab-bag of various duties, where something was screwed up and they had to deal with it. She was special.”
Ms. Redden’s duties never wavered, despite several changes in Town Crier ownership over the years. When Los Altos residents Paul and Liz Nyberg purchased the
Town Crier in 1993 from the Tribune Company, Ms. Redden was the first employee they hired back.
“When we bought the Town Crier on a Saturday in 1993, we had never published a newspaper, just niche magazines,” Liz Nyberg recalled. “After signing the purchase agreement, Paul asked, ‘Now what should we do?’ The response was, ‘First, you need to hire Chris Redden.’ So we did just that at 4 p.m. that day. Chris’ first response was, ‘Oh, shucks, I was hoping to have a two-week vacation before job hunting.’ Fortunately, she came to work the very next day and the paper went out on schedule.”
Nyberg said Ms. Redden played an essential role at the paper, solving printer problems, invoicing the advertisers and becoming “gracefully adept” at collections, among her many tasks.
“She kept the rest of us on task with her light-handed approach,” Nyberg said. “She was a gold-star employee and friend. Paul and I will miss her.”
Love for family
Outside the Town Crier, Ms. Redden was extremely devoted to family. She loved spending time with her granddaughters, Stella and Maren. McCauley said Ms. Redden would drive up to Sacramento most weekends to visit them. She also enjoyed traveling to visit her partner Jeff Herbel’s family in San Luis Obispo as well as relatives in Michigan.
“She took any opportunity she could to visit her family in Michigan, especially her Aunt Ketha, who she called ‘Auntie Mom,’ and many of her cousins, who she considered siblings,” McCauley said. “Last September, she was able to go on a huge family vacation to Maui with her partner, Jeff, my husband and I, my sister, her husband and the grandchildren. She loved Maui. She also got to spend a weekend in Disneyland with my sister and the grandkids in January.”
Other passions included visits to arts and wine festivals, including the one in Los Altos, and playing Bunco with a group of friends.
“She also loved to shop,” McCauley said. “She was incredibly social and enjoyed spending time with her many friends.”
Her 19 years of involvement in the Kiwanis Club of Los Altos gave Ms. Redden an opportunity to socialize while serving the community. She helped the club in a variety of ways, whether it was volunteering at annual events such as the Kiwanis Special Games, the Pet Parade in downtown Los Altos or the Christmas tree lot; helping out on the club’s scholarship committee; or handling club publicity.
“She was always smiling,” said fellow Kiwanian Karen Smith. “She was so helpful and involved with Bunco, the Pet Parade and the tree lot – such a good person to have around.”
Among her many fond memories, McCauley reminisced about a mother who “worked hard and played hard.”
“She struggled as a single mom for some time but always made sure there was food on the table and clothes on our backs,” McCauley said. “She always made sure we had everything we could want or need. Even as adults, she made sure we were taken care of. She was an incredibly kind and caring person and would do anything for anyone. If you needed her, she was there, no matter what time of day or night.”
Ms. Redden is survived by her partner, Jeff Herbel of Manteca, daughters Stacey (Brian) McCauley and Jennifer (Travis) Cassidy, and granddaughters Stella and Maren. She was preceded in death by mother Merna Redden, father Bill Redden and “Auntie Mom” Ketha Beckstrom.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a celebration of life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Ms. Redden’s name to the Kiwanis Club of Los Altos Foundation, P.O. Box 484, Los Altos 94023.
More photos of Ms. Redden can be found on the Town Crier's Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/LosAltosTownCrier.
“For over 20 years, Chris and I worked together on various projects. But the biggest one in my mind was the Festival of Lights “Thank You” ad that appeared every year the week after the parade. ... Creative, collaborative and calm, Chris always got me through the last-minute corrections and additions. She was a wonderful representative for the Town Crier. I will miss her.”
– Nancy Schneider
“To me, Chris was the Spirit of the Town Crier. When Paul and Liz Nyberg acquired the paper, it was Chris who gathered all the materials that would keep the Town Crier publishing with as smooth a transition as possible. She knew what was needed and just did it. She will be missed.”
– Gayle Geagan
Former Town Crier co-worker
“It’s not often your boss ends up being a good friend while working together, and after I left the paper. I worked with Chris for seven years at the Town Crier. She was always kind and there for you when needed. ... You will be missed, my friend. My heart is broken.”
– Leslie Coe
Former Town Crier co-worker
“I have worked with Chris going on 22 years, and I have nothing but high praises for her professionalism, patience and creative energy she has always brought to her work. No matter how she was feeling or how many times or how late I made changes on any of my ads, I never once got a hint of defensiveness or lack of patience, but instead a desire to please me, the customer, to have the creative product just right. She was always open to give me her suggestions and perspective on how the ad could look better. She was always reachable out by phone or email, no matter what her pressures were. Truly the greatest to work with.”
– Leslie Chiaverini
Owner, Adventure Toys
"She was great. When I first bought Cranberry Scoop, I had very little background working with advertising. She really helped me along, always showed me the correct path. Whenever there was a question, it was always, 'Let's ask Chris.' She was such a joy to work with."
– Ellen Biolsi
Owner, Cranberry Scoop
“It was always a good idea to cc Chris to make sure whatever needed to happen would happen. She stood by her deadlines and seemed to be the backbone of the paper. She obviously helped make the Town Crier the respected paper where every Los Altos home seller is proud to see their home listed!”
– Gillian Newson
Marketing Designs Inc.
“My heart breaks. Another huge loss to our community. She had such a beautiful spirit and loving heart. I am so very sorry.”
– Jeanne MacVicar
Realtor, former Los Altan of the Year
“She always made everything seem possible while putting together our ads. Her smile and upbeat attitude made her an inspiration during her illness. She’ll be sorely missed. I’m especially sorry for all of you to lose her.”
– Chris Kendall
Owner, Yum Yum Tree