Deaths | August 12, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - August 12, 2011


M. Kenneth Oshman, Silicon Valley pioneer, dies

His family foundation donated $10 million to build Jewish community center in south Palo Alto

Silicon Valley pioneer and Jewish Community Center benefactor M. Kenneth Oshman has died. He was 71.

Oshman, an Atherton resident, died peacefully Saturday surrounded by his family, according to Sinai Memorial Chapel. He was executive chairman of Echelon, a San Jose clean-tech company, since 1989 and also served as the company's CEO from 1988 to 2009 and president from 1988 to 2001.

He stepped down in 2009 after he was diagnosed with lung cancer, according to a statement from Echelon.

Echelon is a pioneer in energy-control systems for smart electric grids, smart buildings and smart devices.

The company's board of directors released a statement this morning praising Oshman as a "brilliant leader who served as an inspiration to everyone around him" and commending him for creating a "culture where hard work and collaboration just came naturally."

"He was one of the original Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, whose personal vision and passion formed not one, but two, industry-leading companies that developed revolutionary technologies that paved the way for today's communications and modernization of the smart grid," the board said in the statement.

Ron Sege, Echelon's president and CEO said in a statement that Oshman's colleagues "will deeply mourn his loss and miss his spirit, good humor and big-heartedness."

"We will dedicate our efforts to continue to innovate and grow at Echelon as Ken would have wished," Sege said.

Oshman was raised in Rosenberg, Texas. He attended Rice University and graduated Summa Cum Laude with undergraduate degrees in engineering. He married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Daily, in 1962.

The couple moved to the Bay Area in 1963, where Oshman was a member of the technical staff at Sylvania and developed nonlinear optical techniques and systems. While at Sylvania, he attended Stanford University and received his master's degree in 1965 and his doctorate in 1968.

Oshman and three associates founded ROLM Corporation, a telecommunications company, in 1969. He was company CEO, president and a director until its merger with IBM in 1984. He was a vice president at IBM after the merger and a member of its corporate management board until 1986.

He was a past president of the board of the Stanford Alumni Association and past member of the advisory council of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, of Stanford Associates and the board of directors of the Community Foundation of Santa Clara County. He was a member of President Ronald Reagan's Economic Policy Planning Committee and the Committee to Advise the President on High Temperature Superconductivity.

Oshman was known as a gifted businessman and lent his expertise to the boards of Sun Microsystems, Knight Ridder, ASK Computer Systems, StrataCom, Inc. and Charles Schwab Corporation, among others.

His family foundation donated $10 million to help build a new south Palo Alto Jewish community center, which opened in 2009 and was named in their honor.

At the center's 2007 groundbreaking, according to J. Weekly, Oshman recalled the 2,000-square-foot building in Texas where local Jewish families socialized in his youth.

"For Barbara and me, the Oshman Family JCC is a marvelous, modern, urban extension of exactly the same community gathering place — a place not for a handful of families but for thousands of families," he said.

Oshman's generosity extended well beyond the local Jewish community. His name is associated at Stanford University with the Oshman Family Gallery at the Cantor Arts Center, the Barbara and Kenneth Oshman Professor of Engineering (jointly with Applied Physics), the Barbara and Ken Oshman Fund at the Stanford Library and an undergraduate award in the Taube Center for Jewish Studies.

He enjoyed playing golf, attending opera and time in Hawaii. The most important thing in his life was spending time with his family. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Barbara, and sons Peter and David and their wives Stephanie and Joanna, four grandchildren and his brother, Rick Oshman, and sister-in-law, Tania, of Houston, Texas.

Physician, teacher, naturalist William Hadley 'Bill' Clark dies

Longtime Palo Alto Medical Clinic physician, nature guide and teacher succumbs at 92

William Hadley "Bill" Clark, an early partner at the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, a lifelong teacher, community leader and a dedicated nature guide in his retirement, died July 30 following a lengthy period of failing health.

Dr. Clark joined the Palo Alto Medical Clinic staff in 1946 and cared for patients for decades until he retired in 1983 following the first of several heart operations.

He served on the Palo Alto City Council during the politically tumultuous years of 1967 to 1973, showing a broad understanding of community issues and demonstrating an ability to listen to differing viewpoints — relating to community growth, housing and the Vietnam War, among other issues.

He was a born in Oxnard, Calif., in 1918, but spent his childhood in Ventura County, where he worked with his father on a farm, chiefly raising chickens and selling eggs. After both parents died, he moved to Palo Alto with his stepmother in the early 1930s. He attended Palo Alto High School, where he got his first taste of leadership as student-body president. He graduated in 1936.

He attended the University of California, Berkeley, from 1936 to 1939, then transferred to Stanford University, from which he received a bachelor's degree in 1940 and his medical degree in 1944 from the Stanford School of Medicine, then based in San Francisco, where he did his internship from 1943 to 1945.

Dr. Clark served in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps in the closing months of World War II, and was on a ship scheduled to participate in the invasion of Japan when it was canceled due to the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His ship was diverted to China, where he helped care for war victims. He later served in the Naval Reserve.

While in high school, he met Jean Helen Yuill at a picnic on the beach at Searsville Lake, beginning a relationship that lasted from high school until his passing. They were married in 1941 and had four children between 1944 and 1951: David, Carolyn, Peter and Bruce.

When the Stanford School of Medicine relocated to a new complex in Palo Alto in the mid-1950s, Dr. Clark was named Stanford Hospital's first chief of medicine in Palo Alto, during 1957-58 — which his children recall as a terrible year of overwork and absences from the family.

He later served as secretary, vice-chief and chief of the Palo Alto medical staff at the hospital. He also was an attending physician at the Palo Alto VA Hospital from 1960 to 1979.

Dr. Clark loved teaching as well as sharing his extensive knowledge of birds, plants and nature in his later years. He and Jean both served as docents at Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve, which now encompasses their beloved Searsville Lake region.

He was a clinical professor of medicine at Stanford, was affiliated with numerous professional organizations, and in 1990-91 founded and was first president of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic Retired Physicians group.

Prior to serving on the City Council, Dr. Clark served on the Palo Alto Park and Recreation Commission in 1957-58. He was an avid hiker and a naturalist.

He was also active with the Peninsula Open Space Trust, based in Palo Alto.

But the lasting memories of Dr. Clark by his family, medical colleagues, patients and friends included "his great gusto with which he approached everything in life," according to his youngest son, Bruce, now a physician. He also had a "rascal" streak as a youngster, including once getting kicked out of a Catholic school for tripping a nun.

Dr. Clark also had a great love of teaching, his son David noted during a family reminiscence for the Weekly this week: "I've worked in schools most of my life, and watching him as a teacher in general ... he was a very good teacher."

"He was beloved," Carolyn added, noting that he had large turnouts for his grand rounds and twice yearly three-month teaching stints at Stanford Hospital. "He was a listener. He had a quality of listening and 'seeing you.'"

She said he listened closely even to those with differing views during years of community leadership through organizations, including the Rotary Club and community-based organizations.

"He was a community builder," Peter added, and had an "incredible memory." They also said he was a great storyteller, from his Navy experiences to Sierra hikes to last night's sports game.

His and Jean's relationship lasted as "one of the great love relationships" even during recent years of health problems for both of them. The couple celebrated their 70th anniversary recently.

Despite heart bypasses and other physical problems, "his spirit just kept going," Peter said.

He is survived Jean; son David Clark and his wife, Catherine Clark, of Austin, Texas; daughter, Carolyn Clark Clebsch, and her husband, William Clebsch, of Menlo Park; son Peter Clark and his wife, Gail Hartman, of Minneapolis; and son Bruce Clark and his wife, Deborah Clark, of Novato; and nine grandchildren.

Private family services are being held.

The family prefers memorials be contributions to the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve and the Peninsula Open Space Trust.

Debasis Sen

Debasis Sen (known to his family as Satu), 78, a 35-year resident of Palo Alto, died July 11, 2011, at Stanford Hospital of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

He was born in Purulia, West Bengal, India in 1932. He graduated from the University of Calcutta in 1954. He moved to London in 1959, sent off in style with a personal letter from the then-President of India Rajendra Prasad. There, he met his wife of 27 years, Jill Otto. They moved to the Bay Area in 1966; to Houston, Texas, in 1970; and back to Palo Alto in 1980.

He worked as a financial analyst, an auditor and in various other capacities at Shell Oil, Sohio, Westinghouse, Lockheed and L-3 Communications. He loved playing tennis, cooking, listening to opera and hiking, and was a passionate supporter of the San Francisco Giants.

He was incredibly generous to those in need, loved ones recalled. He was a loving father and grandfather, and he is sorely missed, family members said.

He is survived by his two daughters, Maya Gillian Sen and Julia Nihar Sen; one grandson; former wife Jill Otto; and son-in-law Dylan Campopiano.

A memorial service has been held. Memorial donations may be made to Doctors without Borders or UNICEF.

— Jay Thorwaldson


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