Pamela Mary Castle
July 15, 1926-May 23, 2022
Palo Alto, California
Submitted by Susan Castle
Pam Castle, a Palo Alto resident for 55 years, passed away on May 23, 2022, in Claremont, California with her family by her side. She was 95 years old.
Pam was born in Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), the only child of Mary Montgomery Rowbotham, born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and Robert Neville Rowbotham, born in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Neville was a rubber tree planter and Pam spent her first five years near the village of Udugama, in the district of Galle. Fifty years after departing the island country, Pam returned to Sri Lanka to retrace her roots. The highlight was locating her remote bungalow home up in the jungle.
In 1931, Pam’s family relocated to southern California to manage a citrus ranch. Thus began her time in San Dimas, nestled along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains and surrounded by acres of orange and lemon trees. She attended San Dimas Grammar School and graduated from Bonita Union High School in 1944. She went on to attend Pomona College in nearby Claremont, earning a B.A. in history in 1948.
Following college, Pam worked as a secretary at Caltech in Pasadena in the biology department. While at Caltech, she was introduced to a graduate student from the Geology department, Bob Castle. The pair were married two years later on April 3rd, 1954, in the garden of “Coleraine,” her San Dimas home. Their union would last for 63 years. The newlyweds headed out to Massachusetts where Bob began his long tenure with the United States Geological Survey; with their new golden retriever puppy, Rudy, in tow. Pam and Bob’s first child, Peter Neville, was born in Lawrence, MA, in June 1956. The UCLA Ph.D. program brought the young family back to the West Coast in 1957 where they lived in the San Fernando Valley. Pam became a surrogate den mother to the younger graduate students and many parties were hosted at their Granada Hills home, the advent of Pam’s calling as a remarkable cook and hostess. Their daughter, Susan Alison, was born in July 1959.
In 1965, Bob joined the Menlo Park division of the U.S.G.S. The family moved to a home in the Palo Alto neighborhood of Greenmeadow, where they lived for 10 years and where lifelong friendships were forged, both at The Survey and on Ben Lomond Drive. Fred, the poodle, joined the family in 1969. With the children in grade school, Pam dug into taking cooking classes, first within the Greenmeadow community and progressing to classes with professional chefs around the Bay Area. Her family and friends enjoyed countless “Pam Castle Dinners.” In 1975, Pam and Bob moved a mile away to Torreya Court, where they lived for 45 years. Again, more lifelong friendships were made with treasured neighbors. Pam loved creating a beautiful home, caring for her tranquil garden, and continuing to entertain and provide sumptuous meals for friends, old and new.
Pam devoted much of her time to volunteer work, in particular, as a member of the Palo Alto Auxiliary at Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, benefiting Children’s Hospital at Stanford. She worked as a server and ultimately became the chair of the menu committee, a perfect blend of her desire to help others and her talent for cooking delicious meals. She continued her association with The Guild well past Bob’s retirement from the U.S.G.S., for a total of 43 years. She and Bob also traveled, including to South Africa, Turkey, France, New Zealand, and a memorable trip to Morocco with cherished friends.
Through it all, Pam had a flair for poetry, from penning lyrics for Caltech talent shows to exchanging poems with the milkman. She had a great sense of humor, enjoyed tennis, hiking, and aerobic dance; was a lifelong democrat and political junkie, a fabulous homemaker, a Nordstrom shopper par excellence, and a lover of nature and dogs. She was an avid fan of Stanford football, the 49ers and the Golden State Warriors. She was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. Despite a diminishing memory in her final years, Pam retained her essence – she was stylish, funny, gracious, and loving.
Pam is survived by her daughter, Susan Castle, her son-in-law, Bill Work, both of Claremont, her granddaughters, Molly Work of Rochester, Minnesota, and Erin Work of Los Angeles. She was predeceased by her husband, Bob, in 2017, and her son, Peter, in 1994.