Passionate, outgoing, happy.
Those were some of the adjectives coworkers used to describe Rebecca Lawton.
Lawton, a local registered nurse, died last month at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane from complications of COVID-19. She was 35.
“She was in her prime, trying to live her life and do her best, and this is really tragic,” said former co-worker Karen Peterson, registered nurse care manager at Gritman Medical Center.
About 10 years ago, Lawton moved to Moscow, where she worked at Gritman. She spent about the last four years working at Bishop Place Senior Living in Pullman, where she served as director of nursing for enhanced care.
“She had so much passion and love for everybody that she really pushed everyone to do better, to be better, and even though she was scared to death of an event like this happening, she came to work every morning with her coffee and her head held high and took care of our residents in the best way possible,” said Crystal Poorman, resident care director of enhanced care at Bishop Place.
Poorman said she worked closely with Lawton, who was Poorman’s direct supervisor, since May 2019.
She said Lawton had “a lot going on medically” and that Lawton tested positive for COVID-19 in October. Poorman said Lawton struggled with the virus until she died in December.
Lawton is one of 29 Palouse-area residents who have died from COVID-19. There have been 23 deaths in Whitman County and six in Latah County.
Poorman said several residents at Bishop Place have died from COVID-19.
“The fact is, the virus, it’s mutating and it’s deadly,” Poorman said.
She said Lawton had a “heart of gold” and that she was a “strong believer in helping the community.”
Her obituary, which ran in Tuesday’s Daily News, said she was a paramedic for the Moscow Volunteer Fire Department and regularly helped care for cats at the Whitman County Humane Society in Pullman.
Poorman said Lawton fostered young kittens at the humane society — kittens so young they needed to be fed every couple hours, she said. Poorman said Lawton woke up every two hours of the night to feed the kittens.
Poorman said she fondly remembers sharing cat and coffee memes back and forth via text message with Lawton, noting Lawton loved coffee.
“There’s many nurses and doctors in the community — in Moscow and Pullman — who have worked with her for years and we’re all devastated,” Poorman said.
Peterson, the Gritman nurse who worked with Lawton in case management, said Lawton was an “excellent nurse and problem solver” who “related well to people.”
Crystal Schluter, director of care management at Gritman and who was Lawton’s supervisor, said Lawton was passionate about caring for patients and always seemed to enjoy life and people.
“I was shocked,” Schluter said of Lawton’s death. “I just kept thinking how young she was.”
A memorial service for Lawton will take place remotely via Zoom at 9 a.m. today. To receive an invitation to the Zoom link, send an email request to email@example.com and request the link.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.