Longtime Almanac writer Marion Softky dies at 84

She covered the Almanac community for 40 years

Marion Softky, who wrote thousands of articles for the Almanac over more than 40 years, died at The Sequoias in Portola Valley on Christmas evening of complications from long-term abdominal cancer. She was 84.

"During the previous week, countless visitors from as far as Texas had massaged her feet, helped moisten her mouth, sang Christmas carols, brought flowers and cards, and mostly listened to re-told stories of her childhood, marriage, and Open Space (!)," her son Bill Softky said in an email.

Open space and the environment were among her many favorite topics. Among the others: local history and people, the town of Portola Valley, science, San Mateo County government, and just about any other subject of significance in the Almanac area.

She had been married to a fellow nuclear physicist, Sheldon Softky, and they lived for many years in the Felton Gables neighborhood of Menlo Park.

Bill Softky pointed out that when his mother was young, the Washington Post ran a photo with a caption about a pretty young brunette next to a battleship-gray industrial console with huge dials. "Physicist Marion Harvey teaches professors to use the new Mark II Research Reactor," that caption read.

She was a graduate of Bryn Mawr College, with a master's degree in physics from the University of Minnesota. She and her late husband, Sheldon, moved to Menlo Park in 1959.

"Marion's last week alive was in many ways surprisingly intimate and graceful," her son said. "Her mantra, even to her last day, was her husband Sheldon's last words 18 years ago: 'It's been more than wonderful.'"

A 121-minute video of Marion Softky being interviewed by Portola Valley historian Nancy Lund (and recorded by Virginia Bacon) is on YouTube. During the interview, Softky discusses her 50 years of covering county planning issues.

Click here to see Marjorie Mader's cover story on Marion Softky, "Covering the community for 40 years."

Links to some of her best local articles and interviews for the Almanac are online here.

More information about Marion Softky will be posted soon.

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Like this comment
Posted by Carroll Harrington
a resident of Community Center
on Dec 28, 2011 at 10:18 am

Marion was one of those people that I thought would be around forever. You could always count on her for accurate, informative and visionary reporting. We are all lucky to have had in our lives.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Palo Alto High School

on Sep 26, 2017 at 4:02 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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