Former La Cañada resident Sue Finch Schecter, who served as the founding president of the Lanterman House museum's board of directors, died Feb. 17 shortly after settling into a new apartment in Fairfield, Calif., according to family members. She was 83; the cause of death was heart failure.

Schecter began a career as an elementary school teacher in the early 1950s, leaving that field when she became a mother. She returned to the workforce in the late 1970s, first as a substitute teacher and then as executive director of the Pasadena Historical Museum. When the city of La Cañada Flintridge was bequeathed Lanterman House on Encinas Drive, Schecter took a leading role in establishing it as a museum.

"Sue really was an excellent museum director and a really excellent president of the Lanterman Foundation," said Melissa Patton, executive director of Lanterman House. "She was the best diplomat I've ever known. She made you feel that your opinion was valid."

Patton said Schecter "fought a very tough battle" when neighbors of Lanterman House objected to its transformation from a residential property to a public venue. "She was absolutely steadfast in her support for it becoming a museum that would serve the entire community," Patton said.

Schecter was preceded by the Dec. 11 death of her husband, Ken, a former Navy pilot who also took an active role in civic affairs during the couple's 47 years living here and in neighboring Pasadena. They are survived by three children and seven grandchildren.

Funeral services and a celebration of life will be held for Sue Schecter on March 14 at St. Clement's Episcopal Church in Berkeley.

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Follow Carol Cormaci on Twitter: @CarolCormaci.

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