Lois Hogle, environmental pioneer, dies


Lois Hogle, environmental pioneer, dies

Lois Crozier Hogle -- known for her 40 years of "gracious activism" on behalf of the environment and foothills protection -- died at home Dec. 27 with her family beside her. She was 92.

A memorial service will be held in February, date and time pending.

She was honored with Palo Alto's Tall Tree Award in 2002. She is survived by her son, Allan of Sebastopol; son, Steve of Healdsburg; daughter, Francie Kelley of Los Angeles; and four grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Committee for Green Foothills, 3921 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303; Greenbelt Alliance, 631 Howard St., Ste. 510, San Francisco, CA 94105; Native American Rights Fund,

1506 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302.

In August 2001, the Palo Alto Weekly published an in-depth story about Hogle:

Lois Hogle's life of 'gracious activism'

Palo Alto environmental pioneer who helped 'save foothills' looks back, forward, inward

Michael A. Fox of Stanford University didn't know whose door he was knocking on in mid-2000 when he decided to inform a neighbor of Stanford's Dish area that an 8-foot fence would be built around her property.

The nice lady who answered was Lois Crozier Hogle -- known for her 40 years of "gracious activism" on behalf of the environment and foothills protection, predating the first Earth Day in 1970 by a decade.

Fox, as facilities coordinator at Stanford, was charged with installing a new chain-link fence around the perimeter of the Stanford Dish area as a prelude to restricting dogs and limiting hiking access to the ridge west of Junipero Serra Boulevard, north of Page Mill Road. The fence would run right behind Hogle's back yard.

"I was quiet," Hogle recalled of the conversation with "this nice young man" from Stanford.

"I wasn't prepared -- it was such a surprise. We talked about it ... and all the time I thought, 'Don't fence me in!' I was quiet about it but I wasn't going to take the fence. I thought it was just too much to ask."

After Fox left, Hogle's next calls included one to the Palo Alto Weekly. The resulting story launched a raging community debate over the future of the Dish property. She refused to smile for the photographer because "I want them to see how upset I am!"

More than a year later, there is no chain-link fence around Hogle's hillside home, off Old Page Mill Road opposite the historic brick "Frenchman's Tower" structure from the 1800s.

The fence battle is just one more victory for Hogle, who at 87 is still actively promoting environmental awareness in spite of a mild stroke and other health concerns in recent years. She is considered a mentor by a Who's Who of younger environmentalists in the area, aged from their 20s to their 60s.

Hogle is perhaps best known as being a key co-founder, in 1962, of the Committee for Green Foothills, whose longtime members refer to themselves as "GreenFeet." Meeting in neighbor Ruth Spangenberg's living room, she and several others had gathered to plot a battle against a plan by Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to run high-voltage powerlines right up the foothills.

"We got about 28 already-dedicated people ... and we were seated there, and the idea came forward, 'We have to get a good name, and something that will stick.' I think it was either Gary Girard or Larry Dawson who said, 'We want to be 'for' something.' And that was definitely the case -- we all agreed on that. And so we became the Committee FOR Green Foothills."

The late Wallace Stegner, the great author of the American West, became the first Committee president and former Congressman Pete McCloskey -- then a local attorney -- became its first lawyer.

Hogle recruited her three children -- along with Spangenberg's six children -- into a "Junior Green Foothills" group that helped distribute anti-powerline pamphlets and help in other ways in a variety of local battles.

"I remember all of my kids one day, and all of Ruth's kids, and everybody we could get were putting out pamphlets. PG&E employed 60 people to canvass Palo Alto, I remember. And here we were, little (David &) Goliath, with just very few members. We didn't win it but we educated a lot of people, and that was the beginning," Hogle recalls.

What followed was a series of save-the-foothills and slow-growth efforts, work in election campaigns such as McCloskey's first run for Congress, and other battles -- such as the effort to prevent development of the Coyote Hill area south of Page Mill Road.

But Hogle's trail of activism is only one facet of her life. She has followed an inner path as well, which began with a Quaker family heritage and encompassed both a philosophy and a spiritual compass to her life, guiding her directions and bolstering her during hard times such as the early death of her father and, many years later, the ending of her marriage.

Hogle is a native of the San Joaquin Valley, which "you might think a very dull place; one thing for sure it was a very hot place." But the Sierra Nevada mountains were not far off, and "I think I got my first love of hills and of nature by going to Huntington Lake every summer" for her first 16 years -- a high lake northeast of Fresno.

Her parents built a cabin in a roadless stretch of the lake, and they and the four children would have to carry in all their supplies when they arrived late at night, walking across a narrow dam with no railings.

"My father would take us, would load the car with chickens and vegetables and fruit and children, and off we would go, across the hot desert to Huntington Lake, which was a beautiful lake -- and it still is, because we kept the freeway out of there."

But the abrupt death of her father when she was 15 and a junior in high school soon ended the Huntington summers.

"It was a very big blow to the family -- this was in the heart of the Depression. They were hard years ... I don't think we suffered much from the major Depression, but we had our own. Her father "chose to be a farmer and to do his law practice, and it was too much for him," she recalls.

The family moved south to Glendale, and in 1932 Hogle entered Glendale Junior College for two years. She then enrolled in the University of Redlands with her brother, following their two older sisters into college. It was the beginning of "two great years for me" during which she flowered as a popular student and got her first heady taste of leadership while majoring in economics and sociology.

"I had a great time. I was in music, lots of music," she recalls -- she still plays the harpsichord. She sold tickets to dances and events and was business manager of the yearbook. She was advised to go into sales -- but didn't.

"Something directed me a different way -- I learned to think critically, and I think that should happen to everyone who goes to college." If it doesn't, college "has failed them -- it really has," she said.

Critical thinking hit her hard: "I got a new philosophy: I wanted to save the world," Hogle recalls. "And I guess I must have meant it, because I've been active ever since, trying to save things and do things that would make a difference. It was a big step, a really big step."

She graduated in 1936 -- years later she earned masters degrees in education and social work. She took a two-year job with the liberal First Baptist Church in Los Angeles. After-hours she went to Clifton's Cafeteria, a center for social activism where groups worked on facets of the slogan: "Peace, Jobs and Freedom."

Hogle began a decade of political involvement "in all of the issues that were important to the day."

She was elected state chairman of the California Youth Legislature, the western branch of the American Youth Congress, and joined a delegation to Washington, D.C., where she met First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

"I remember 30 of us were invited to the state dining room for lunch with Mrs. Roosevelt, and she came around to each table. She was so tall, you know, she knelt on the floor and talked to us. She said, 'Now how can I help you? What do you need in California?'

"Well, we needed money, of course. And we needed sympathy.... But we had a friend in Eleanor."

About three years later, when Hogle was working with a Roosevelt agency, the National Youth Administration, "Mrs. Roosevelt asked to see me." They discussed politics over lunch.

On July 4, 1943, Hogle left Los Angeles to visit her mother in Seattle, then drive across country to a new job in New York: a six-month job raising student war-relief funds on college campuses.

Funds went to student prisoners of war and to help Chinese non-Communists "move their universities inland -- on their backs, literally, during that time.... It was the beginning of Communism in China. We were trying to salvage some of the student leadership for the future."

Hogle visited a hundred U.S. campuses -- and traveled to Europe to see the positive results of the war-relief efforts there.

Following a YWCA job planning conferences and organizing activities in 10 Midwestern states, Hogle married George Hogle, on his way to becoming a physician and Jungian analyst. They moved to England for four years while he completed his Jungian training -- "four wonderful years" in Kent, the "garden county of England.... We lived a quiet life but also very exciting because England is exciting to explore, and we explored it."

In 1959 they moved to Palo Alto, wanting to "to buy what everyone else wanted: We wanted to buy an old house and do it over. The kids would ride to school on bicycles and that would be 'it.' That whole year we looked and there wasn't a single place available." Their children, Francie, Steve and Allen, were 4, 6 and 8 respectively when they moved to Palo Alto.

They finally settled on a 1945 house in the lower Palo Alto foothills, where Hogle still lives. The famed architect/landscape-architect team of Morgan and Kathryn Stedman designed a teahouse and pool addition -- used in 1973 for the first retreat of the new board of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, approved by voters in 1972.

But the 1959 move back to California jolted her:

"I was shocked to see what had happened to it. It had developed so much, and there was every evidence of the kind of development I didn't want to see. This really was a challenge, and it reminded me of what I visualized this place would always be -- these beautiful hills threatened. And they were. They were in danger.

"That's when Palo Alto hired Charles Luckman" to do a planning study in the foothills. "His vision was quite different than mine. He wanted to put 50,000 people in the foothills. And in the end they had to buy up his contract and let him go, and that was a great day," Hogle said. "The environmentalists, I'm convinced, drove him out of town."

It was one of a long series of battles in which Hogle walked precincts, stuffed envelopes and went to (or hosted) countless meetings on behalf of her new "GreenFeet" path -- a particular challenge for a mother with young children at home.

"It was very hard because there was a competition always to be at home and take care of those children, and then there was this pull outward toward those hills," she said. "I was naturally interested in both, but lots of times I'm afraid the phone rang too many times and even on the weekends I was busy ... And a lot of the mothers had that same conflict."

Hogle said the formation of the Committee for Green Foothills, with McCloskey signing on as the first legal counsel, gave her another surprise: "I used to think that all environmentalists were Democrats." On his first campaign for Congress, she recalls going door-to-door in San Carlos when a small dog escaped from the house. "I had to spend the next hour running up and down San Carlos Avenue trying to find that crazy dog." She did, and got the vote.

Her toughest fight? "A lot of them, because we were always out for the underdog. I remember Vic Calvo (former Assemblyman and county supervisor) -- we got into supervisor fights, City Council fights...and we were for senators and representatives who represented our point of view.

"I don't know what the hardest one was, because I thought they were all hard."

The support and friendship of the late Wallace Stegner was invaluable, Hogle said. "We asked him to do writing, and we asked him to speak. He was one of our best contact people. No matter how small the issue was he would come forth and be on our side. And he gave us a lot of time. He was a real friend, as well as a great writer."

Along the way she was involved in the PTA -- convincing the Palo Alto school board to hire architect Ernest Kump to design the new Gunn High School instead of copying plans for the former Cubberley High. She was president of the Stanford YWCA, of which Jane Lathrop Stanford was an early member. She has maintained Quaker connections and has visited the Quaker retreat center in Boulder Creek many times.

Hogle's Quaker-origin interior path flowered in college when she realized during a religious-studies course that "Jesus was an agent of change."

She was inspired by famed anthropologist Margaret Mead, who sat on the review committee for Hogle's doctorate in education. "She really felt you can make a difference..., that a small, committed group can. And it can," Hogle said.

In recent years she has focused more on that path. In the 1980s, Hogle developed a friendship with the Rev. Howard Thurman, who studied and visited with Gandhi and was Martin Luther King's mentor.

"He was a tower of strength..., a very, very spiritual person," she said of the Rev. Thurman. After meeting initially in the 1940s at the Asilomar conference center near Monterey, during the 1980s they met for lunch monthly at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. Hogle one day expressed the need to "go off by myself and find my inner life" after her years of activism. He equipped her with books and goodwill, and she spent two months alone at Harrison Hot Springs in Canada "being quiet, trying to find a balance."

During her earlier stay in England, she was influenced by Hella Adler, whose husband, Gerhardt, edited Jung's letters. At 92, Adler is "still working with people," Hogle noted. Adler "didn't like me being called an activist -- she thought that was a little much. But it was true and I couldn't get away from it. But she was always on the side of getting a balance, and she had a point."

In 1988, Hogle embarked on a new venture -- writing a book based on interviews with college-educated American Indians: "I wanted to do a book that would let the Indians speak for themselves. There have been lots of books written about them" but few using their own words. The book, "Surviving in Two Worlds: Contemporary Native American Voices," is in its second printing by the University of Texas.

"It was a great experience, because it happens that these are very spiritual people, and I hadn't realized it," Hogle said. "I learned a lot about balance from the Indians."

Hogle is looking forward to an upcoming 40th anniversary celebration of the Committee, now at about 2,000 members, and to a "new generation" of environmentalists, both the "wonderful young persons" in groups such as Bay Area Action and older persons just getting involved.

"It isn't only members," she said. "It's that people are stepping forward and talking about the things that Green Foothills has accomplished.

"I'm often stopped on trails, and people express appreciation for the foothills, and for this environment that is here. It isn't Daly City . . . . I remember many times walking the Skyline and planning what we were going to do. In a way, we've done it -- and I think we've done it because we kept our enthusiasm for it.

"And that's one thing I would tell young people, that if they really have commitment and conviction about the thing they are after they can make a big difference," Hogle said, with enthusiasm.

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