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Originally published March 21, 2008 at 12:00 AM | Page modified March 21, 2008 at 12:01 AM

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Rita Creighton, 58, backer of Aviation High School

Rita Creighton never worked as a teacher or a lobbyist. But as a mom who believed in the value of education, she made a career out of advocating...

Seattle Times South King County reporter

Rita Creighton never worked as a teacher or a lobbyist. But as a mom who believed in the value of education, she made a career out of advocating for young people.

Combining her passion for education and aviation, Mrs. Creighton inspired young people to go after the careers of their dreams. She built the education-outreach program at the King County International Airport (Boeing Field) and was a founding force behind Aviation High School, a theme-based high school in the Highline School District.

Mrs. Creighton, 58, died March 16, of natural causes at her Normandy Park home.

Attending a PTA meeting at her children's elementary school was what sparked Mrs. Creighton's years of involvement in education advocacy. She went on to participate in regional and state PTA organizations, and she served as president of the Washington State PTA.

In 2005, she was appointed to the Highline Community College Board of Trustees.

"She never wavered in her focus," said her husband, Stuart Creighton. "No matter what level, what kind of project, she always kept her eye on the ball."

Mrs. Creighton was born Rita Trask in Oklahoma on Sept. 10, 1949, and her family moved to Washington shortly after. The family settled in Normandy Park, then a quiet, rural suburb where Ms. Creighton would later choose to raise her own family. She graduated from Mount Rainier High School and attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Mrs. Creighton returned to Washington to work in technical support at Boeing, where she met her future husband. The couple married in 1979.

For the past 10 years, Mrs. Creighton was the community-relations and aviation-education manager at Boeing Field. She developed educational programs to get students excited about careers in aviation and served as a liaison to the media.

In the office, she was the person who could be relied on for everything, said Airport Director Bob Burke, Mrs. Creighton's supervisor for five years. She was honest and unafraid to "tell it like it is," even to her boss, Burke said.

Mrs. Creighton's biggest source of pride, her husband said, was her involvement in starting Aviation High School, Stuart Creighton said. The aviation-themed school embodied everything that she worked for: It brought kids from all different backgrounds to a place where they could work hard and get the rewards they deserved, he said. She was looking forward to seeing the school graduate its first class this June.

In a letter to students, Aviation High Principal Reba Gilman called Mrs. Creighton the school's "godmother."

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Creighton is survived by a son, Jeff Creighton, of Reno, Nev.; a daughter, Courtney Chaffee, of Federal Way; and brothers, Stan Trask Jr., of Issaquah; Michael Trask, of Lynnwood; and Richard Trask, of Tacoma.

A celebration of Mrs. Creighton's life will be held at 2 this afternoon at the Normandy Park Community Club, 1500 S.W. Shorebrook Drive, Normandy Park.

Lauren Vane: 206-464-2926 or lvane@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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