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October 26, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Tarltons know meaning of Humanitarian Award Tarltons know meaning of Humanitarian Award (October 26, 2005)

'There is nothing, nothing in life like losing a child,' Palo Alto developer shares at Pathways award dinner

by Jay Thorwaldson

Palo Alto developer Tig Tarlton and his wife, Marilyn, have supported the humanitarian efforts of the Pathways hospice and home-care program for 14 years.

But it wasn't until their daughter, Lorrie DeLoach , became terminally ill in 2001 that they felt the full life-and-death impacts of the organization's services, the couple confided to more than 550 persons at Pathways' 15th annual "One from the Heart" awards breakfast last Thursday.

"There is nothing, nothing in life like losing a child," Tarlton told the hushed audience at the Crowne Plaza Cabana Hotel as he accepted the Frances C. Arrillaga Humanitarian Award on behalf of himself and his wife, who are approaching their 50th anniversary.

He said their marriage survived the loss, but noted many relationships aren't so fortunate: "80 percent of marriages end in divorce" following the death of a child, no matter the age.

"I can't describe what it is about grieving that drives a wedge, but it is very, very real," he said, adding that Pathways' assistance was vitally important in the grieving and healing process.

Throughout Lorrie's illness and death last January, and afterward, the hospice program "was there for us, and did so many things for us with quiet dignity. They were there," he said.

In partial return, Tarlton spent 14 months helping Pathways construct its new headquarters building in Sunnyvale. The project started with "an innocent call from (Pathways' longtime spokesperson) Debbie Stinchfield" asking if he would review the land lease. That led to a close association with virtually every phase of the new building, including negotiating with both city officials and contractors.

Tarlton said he never enjoyed a project as much "in almost 40 years of buying buildings, remodeling and doing things with them -- it was just so much fun." And receiving the award named after the late Frances Arrillaga -- active for many years in numerous community organizations -- "is a special joy," he said.

The two other major annual awards presented by Pathways went to regional television personalities: KTVU, Channel 2, news reporter Rita Williams and ABC television health-program host Dr. Dean Edell.

Williams received the group's "One from the Heart" award for her "sensitive and compassionate reporting" and specifically for a news segment on the life of William Cassidy of Palo Alto, who before his death at age 90 was a Pathways patient. Williams said at the outset of a three-hour interview, Cassidy was subdued and commented his life was worth nothing.

But as he went through a photo album detailing his career as a nationally known dancer "his voice got stronger," and he wound up inviting Williams to do a dance turn.

Williams has been master of ceremonies for the Pathways awards for several years.

Edell received the John W. Gardner Visionary Award for working more than 20 years as one of the first physician broadcasters -- and especially for his support for hospice care and advanced-care planning.

Edell, who could not attend the event, sent a video instead in which he discussed a year in which he lost his mother, stepmother and father.

"Physicians are poorly trained in this area -- death is our enemy," he said. In his mother's case, "her liver interested her doctors more than her being did," and Edell admitted he bought into that model.

Then, "There appeared angels bearing the gift of peace" for her and the family -- the hospice and home care workers of Pathways. "I did nothing. All I did was accept what you do daily," he concluded.

Actress and humanitarian Linda Dano was the guest speaker. In addition to her career as a popular soap opera actress, she has been active in promoting humanitarian issues. She cared for her aging parents and her husband through their final illnesses.

Pathways was founded in 1976 as MidPeninsula Home Care and Hospice Services, or MHS. It now serves more than 7,500 adults annually plus children in a KIDS propram in five Bay Area counties.

Weekly Editor Jay Thorwaldson can be e-mailed at [email protected]

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