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Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - January 6, 2012

Deaths

Betty Britton

Betty Britton, 75, an active participant in the Palo Alto community for many years, died Dec. 28. She spent a happy Christmas with her family and finally her struggle with Parkinson's and kidney diseases ended.

Many at the Palo Alto Adult School will remember her as a capable, patient and fun upholstery teacher. She guided many students through the complexities of upholstering vintage chairs and enjoyed the company of her students. She served as a board member of Palo Alto Stanford Heritage, where she helped research historic properties.

Earlier in her life, she volunteered at the nursery school, elementary school library and the international children's playgroups at Stanford's Bechtel International Center. For several years during the fall, her family hosted foreign families arriving for study at Stanford, which resulted in many long-term friendships.

She was always up for something new and different. She got her private pilot's license in 1987 and joined the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots. She and her husband made trips all around the United States, including to Alaska. An accomplished cook, she wrote a cookbook entitled "Lots of Pots — Cooking for 10 to 300," the inspiration for which grew out of the many meals she catered for friends and organizations.

She was born April 24, 1936, in Chicago, Ill., but moved to Southern California at age 2. After graduating from Hamilton High School in Los Angeles, she attended Tobe-Coburn School for Fashion Careers in New York City.

She moved to Palo Alto in 1958, where she took a job with the Emporium at Stanford. She married and started her family in June 1960. As her children became more independent, she returned to do retail for some time, managing a small chain specializing in women's sizes. She later took up upholstery. At first upholstery was a hobby but finally, with a new teaching credential, she taught it until Parkinson's disease took its toll.

She is survived by her husband of 51 years, Ralph Britton; sisters, Jane Childs of Torrance, Calif., and Kathleen Cairns of Santa Cruz, Calif.; daughter, Carla of Boise, Idaho; son, Stuart of San Diego, Calif.; and two grandchildren.

A celebration of her life will be held in the garden of the family home in the spring. The family requests that memorials be sent to The Parkinson's Institute at www.thepi.org.

Myrna Klee Robinson

Myrna Klee Robinson, a longtime resident of Menlo Park, died Dec. 21.

She died at the age of 64 in her home, surrounded by family and friends. Shortly before her death from advanced melanoma, she said: "I never knew I was so beloved."

Born Nov. 20, 1947, in Pittsburg, Pa., the only child of Edward and Sylvia Klee, she lived in that area for her childhood and adolescence, and then went on to graduate from Vassar College in 1969. At that time she relocated to the Bay Area, where she didn't know anyone. Once working in San Francisco, she attended U.C. Berkeley to receive her master's degree in social work in 1974. She married in 1981 and divorced in 1998.

She was a highly skilled and compassionate psychotherapist with a thriving private practice in Palo Alto for 41 years. During that time, she pursued many professional interests, including individual, couple and collaborative divorce counseling. She received an honorary Ph.D. from the esteemed Sanville Institute in the summer of 2011. Known for her extremely generous nature, she maintained several lifelong and meaningful friendships with people from all sorts of backgrounds.

She was a tireless and passionate campaigner for the Cleo Eulau Center, an organization that she helped create in honor of her mentor. The culmination of her work with the center was becoming chairperson of the board and using her commitment and vision to lead the agency to create a more expansive reach. Under her ambassadorship, the center tripled in size, reaching a statewide and national audience in the past year.

She developed her longtime love of interior design and spent any of her limited free time in the homes of those who needed imaginative help in finding a new face and a new love for their residences. On Tuesday afternoons she could be found playing bridge with a tight-knit group of friends, whom all looked to her as a caring teacher and master of the game.

Far more important than any of this was her deep relationship with her son, Eric Robinson, who survives her. When Eric showed an early childhood interest in music, she went to unusual lengths to foster his passion. He has since gone on to become a successful musician and record producer in Los Angeles.

A memorial service, which is open to the public, will be held at Sharon Heights Country Club in Menlo Park on Sunday, Jan. 15, at 2 p.m. The family requests that in lieu of flowers contributions be made in Robinson's name to the Cleo Eulau Center, 2483 Old Middlefield Way, Ste. 208, Mountain View, CA 94303.

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