Search the Archive:

Back to the Weekly Home Page


Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednseday, March 26, 2003

Deaths Deaths (March 26, 2003)

Joe Copson

Joe Copson, 52, a 20-year resident of Los Altos, died March 6.

Born in Sacramento, he received his high school diploma at Palo Alto High School. He was a self-taught engineer and enjoyed a long career as a software engineer in Silicon Valley.

He is survived by his mother, Anne Copson of Palo Alto; and his brother, Bill Copson of Arizona. Private services will be held. Contributions can be made in his name to the Cancer Society.
Wolfgang Kuhn

Wolfgang Kuhn, 88, a Stanford professor for more than 25 years, died March 10.

A professor emeritus of music and of education at Stanford, he was born in 1914 in Lepzig, Germany. He studied violin until 1927, when he immigrated with his family to the United States. He received a bachelor's degree in music in 1936, a master's degree in music in 1943 and a doctorate of music education in 1953, all from the University of Illinois.

After heading the music programs at Illinois and the University of Colorado-Boulder, he joined Stanford in 1958 where he oversaw graduate programs in music education at the School of Education and the Department of Music.

He played an important role in integrating music and technology. In 1973, he and computer programmer Paul Lorton Jr. helped develop a computerized system for teaching musical skills.

In 1982 they released MusicMaster software, at the time one of the most sophisticated systems for computer-assisted music instruction in the country.

He is survived by his daughters, Suanna Breed of Kirksville, Mo., Elizabeth Bacchetti of San Francisco, and Virginia Day of Pacifica; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Plans for a memorial service will be announced later this year.
Palmer Charles Macdonald

Palmer Charles Macdonald, 100, a 33-year resident of Atherton, died March 6.

He was born in San Francisco Jan. 5, 1903. He joined the California Boys Band at age 13 and traveled from California to New York combining band music with gymnastic routines.

He began his business career in the paper distribution business at Blake, Moffit and Towne. He eventually became the assistant to the president.

He was director of the Portland Chamber of Commerce, president of the Portland Freight Traffic Association, trustee of Multnomah Athletic Club and director of the University of Oregon Marketing Council. He has also endowed a scholarship at the University of Oregon.

He celebrated his centennial birthday in January.

He is survived by his son, Tom, and daughter-in-law, Joyce, of Wilsonville, Ore.; stepson, Robert Ireland of Kentfield; stepdaughter, Patricia Fuller of Los Altos Hills; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be made to Rosener House, 500 Arbor Road, Menlo Park 94025.
Nick Podich

Nick Podich, 88, an artist and 48-year resident of Los Altos, died March 14.

He was born in Freedom, Calif., and grew up on his family's apple ranch where he began drawing and painting at a young age. Always athletic, he pitched for the old San Francisco Seals baseball team, and turned down a contract from the Cincinnati Reds in the late 1930s to remain near the ranch. He played with the DiMaggio brothers, Ferris Fain and Lefty O'Doul.

His baseball career ended during World War II, when he served as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army, commanding a division in Japan. The devastation of war impacted him deeply, and he returned to California to pursue an artistic career. He moved to Los Altos in 1955 and served as the art director for the McCarty Company, where he created logos and advertising campaigns for Larabaru bread, Japan Air Lines, Chevron, Safeway and Wells Fargo.

He became a freelance designer and illustrator in the '60s. He was known for his Christmas paintings that were displayed annually at his family's holiday open house along with an 18-foot tree covered with 3,000 ornaments, many of them handmade by his wife Marian and daughter.

In later years he began sculpting and carved his first large piece, "Embrace," out of a log of black walnut that had been drying in his yard for 30 years. He carved eight redwood wall sculptures for Harrah's Hotel in Lake Tahoe and carved the processional cross for Saint Simon Catholic Church in Los Altos, where he was one of the founding parishioners. At 86, he began his first stone carving. He carved a 1,200 pound piece of dolomite from his garden into two polar bears, and finished the piece four months ago. His final work was a mixed-media wall sculpture of an angel.

He is survived by his wife, Marian Podich of Los Altos; and daughter, Cyndel Podich of San Jose.

Services have been held. Donations may be made to a charity of choice; Saint Simon's Church, 1860 Grant Road, Los Altos 94024; or the Pathways Hospice of Mountain View, 201 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View 94040.
Emmet Salem

Emmet Salem, 81, a 50-year resident of Palo Alto, died March 18.

A native of Johnstown, Pa., he was a resident of Palo Alto for 50 years before moving to Palm Desert two years ago.

He worked for Joseph George Distributors, and more recently at Mac's Smoke Shop. He enjoyed playing all types of sports, especially golf. He was a member of the Palo Alto Elks Club. He was adored by his family and friends.

He is survived by his wife, Madeline Salem; daughter, Leslie Salem Holms; brother, Sam Salem; brother, Robert Salem; sister, Florence Klatte; three grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Jan Triska

Jan Triska, 81, an expert on communist Eastern Europe and a retired Stanford University professor, died Feb. 27.

A native of the Czech Republic and son of a cabinetmaker, his law studies in Prague were cut short during World War II. He was deported to a Nazi labor camp in Germany, where he remained until 1945. He finished his law degree in Prague in 1948, and fled to the American occupation zone in Germany following the communist coup d'etat later that year.

He immigrated to the United States as a political refugee and gained degrees from Yale Law School and a doctorate in political science from Harvard University in 1957. After teaching at the University of California-Berkeley and Cornell University, he joined Stanford's Department of Political Science in 1960. He headed the Stanford Studies of the Communist System during the '60s, was the chairman of the Department of Political Science four times and co-chaired the International Relations Program from 1983 to 1987. During the 1980s he ran the Overseas Study program in Poland.

He taught courses in international law, international relations, the politics of the communist system and Soviet foreign policy. Michael McFaul, associate professor of political science at Stanford, studied under him as an undergraduate at Stanford and remembers the encouragement he bestowed upon his students. He was respected for keeping his research free from the ideological debates of the Cold War. McFaul said he was always looking to understand communism, and said that his research bridged gaps between pro-communist and anti-communist scholars.

He authored 14 books, more than 60 articles and two monograph series. Carmel Triska, his wife of 51 years, said he wrote every morning and was disciplined in his habits.

After retiring from Stanford in 1989, he returned to the Czech Republic with other academics to organize seminars and assist his native country. In 1994 he helped bring Czech President Vaclav Havel to Stanford to receive the Law School's prestigious Jackson H. Ralston Prize.

He received many awards throughout his life. His final award, the Medal of Merit, First Grade, for "meritorious services" to the Czech Republic, was presented to him by Havel in Washington D.C. last year.

He is survived by his wife, Carmel Triska; sister, Bozena Rehakova of the Czech Republic; sons, Mark Triska of Arcata and John Triska of Livermore; and four granddaughters.

Plans for a memorial service are pending. Donations designated "In Memory of Professor Jan F. Triska" for a scholarship fund can be sent to Memorial Gifts, 326 Galvez St., Stanford 94305.
Aiki Tsujimori

Aiki Tsujimori, 2, a native of Japan and a Mountain View resident, died March 11.

He was the infant son of Tatsuki Tsujimori, a visiting scholar at the Stanford University Geological Department.

He is survived by his father, Tatsuki Tsujimori of Mountain View; his mother, Yukie Tsujimori of Mountain View; and brother, Mitsuki Tsujimori of Mountain View.

Services have been held. Donations may be made to the Lucile Packard Children's Foundation, 725 Welch Road, Palo Alto 94304.
Robert H. Walker

Robert H. Walker, 69, a San Francisco native and resident of Mountain View, died March 9.

He was the owner of Bob Walker's Pool Service.

He is survived by his wife, JoAnn Walker of Mountain View; daughter, JoAnn Walker of Nevada; daughter, Debra Curry of Sunnyvale; daughter, Kelley Greenhaw of Oklahoma; daughter, Kasey Spears of San Jose; sister, Barbara Hostetler of Livermore; and five grandchildren.

Services have been held.
Mariette S. Wentz

Mariette S. Wentz, 86, a Palo Alto High School graduate and resident of Los Altos, died March 4.

A native of Morton, N.D., she moved to Palo Alto in 1932 and graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1936. She was a homemaker and a Los Altos resident for five years.

She was an avid golfer and a member of the Los Altos Lutheran Church.

She is survived by her son, Richard Wentz of Granite Bay; son, Leon Paul Wentz of Atherton; brother, Joseph Ring of Grants Pass, Ore.; sister, Pauline Pettit of Los Gatos; sister, Marguerite Morinan of Campbell; five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Services have been held. Donations may be made to a charity of choice.
Robert W. Wentz

Robert W. Wentz, 62, a Palo Alto native and 43-year resident of Los Altos, died at Stanford March 7 of complications of emphysema.

A graduate of Cubberly High School in 1958, he attended Sacramento Junior College and San Jose State. He was a general contractor from 1965 until 1990, when he retired from contracting and entered Real Estate.

Family members say he was a world traveler with a passion for life.

He is survived by his brother, Richard Wentz of Granite Bay; brother, Leon Wentz of Atherton; and numerous nieces and nephews.

Services have been held. Donations may be made to the American Lung Association, 1469 Park Ave., San Jose 95126; and Pets in Need, 873 5th Ave., Redwood City 94062.


Copyright © 2003 Embarcadero Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Reproduction or online links to anything other than the home page
without permission is strictly prohibited.