Palo Alto native Florence Minard dies at 102


Florence Anna Paulsen Minard, the last of a pioneer Palo Alto family, died peacefully in Menlo Park on July 5, five weeks short of her 103rd birthday.

Minard was born in Palo Alto, the seventh of nine children. Her father, Jasper Paulsen, owned the first livery stable in town and the Stanford Marguerite buses are named after his favorite horse.

She graduated from Palo Alto High School and attended Stanford University, where she met her husband, Claude Minard, a law student.

They lived briefly in Sacramento, when he was elected to the state Assembly, then returned to Palo Alto after he became secretary of the California Bar Association.

In 1938 Minard joined the Palo Alto Auxiliary to the Stanford Convalescent Home, the forerunner of Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For decades, she worked as a volunteer server at the auxiliary's restaurant at Allied Arts and at rummage sales. She led a Girl Scout troop and tutored in Palo Alto and Ravenswood schools.

During World War II, when her husband served as a military governor in North Africa and Europe, she volunteered at the Red Cross, planted a large victory garden, and raised chickens in her backyard, say family members.

In her later years, she became interested in peace and social justice issues and had never missed voting in any election until she was 101. Shortly before her 100th birthday, she said she would not accept a congratulatory telegram from President George W. Bush because she was opposed to the Iraq war.

An avid walker, she once hiked eight miles in a state park at age 75. She enjoyed traveling and exploring U.S. and European cities on foot. She loved going to the opera, playing bridge, and was a creative seamstress and cook, say family members. After she became a widow, she shared her home with Stanford students from the U.S. and Africa.

She is survived by her daughter, Susan Erving of Menlo Park, with whom she had lived since 1995; daughters Paula Berka of Menlo Park and Sally Brice of Half Moon Bay; four grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Claude Minard; son Claude Minard Jr.; and grandson Rob Erving.

A private celebration of her life will be held in August. The family asks those who wish to remember her to make a donation to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.

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