Publication Date: Wednesday Oct 18, 1995


Frances Arrillaga, philanthropist and volunteer Publication Date: Wednesday Oct 18, 1995

Frances Arrillaga, philanthropist and volunteer

Frances Marion Cook Arrillaga, 54, a Palo Alto philanthropist known for her donations of time, energy and money to numerous community organizations and causes, died Oct. 13 at her Palo Alto home after an 18-month battle with lung cancer.

Because of her extensive contributions and devotion to serving the community, friends and colleagues say she helped fill the void left by Lucile Salter Packard. Now she leaves her own void.

"It's really like a light has gone out in Palo Alto," said City Council member Liz Kniss, a friend and neighbor for 20 years.

"I don't think I've ever met a more giving person in my life," said Leonard Ely, who worked with her as a board member and trustee for such community and educational institutions as the Senior Coordinating Council, Menlo School, Castilleja School, Family Service Mid-Peninsula and the YMCA of the Mid-Peninsula.

"You think of all the good that young lady could have done if cancer hadn't taken her," Ely said. "I'm going to miss her not only as a person but because she made this area a better place to live."

Arrillaga, wife of real estate developer John Arrillaga, was also a director or trustee of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Community Foundation of Santa Clara County, the Children's Health Council, Stanford Alumni Association, Age Center Alliance and the Peninsula Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She and her husband were major donors for the Arrillaga Family Sports Center at Stanford, which opened in January 1994 next to Maples Pavilion.

Her death also came just two weeks before she was to receive the Red Triangle Award, the YMCA's highest honor, at a Nov. 2 dinner at Hyatt Rickeys.

"She probably single-handedly revived several non-profit organizations," Kniss said, adding that "she was the driving force behind the (Palo Alto) Centennial's success."

Co-chair of the Centennial Kickoff Event on Oct. 9, 1993, Arrillaga was diagnosed with cancer during the Centennial year.

Raised in Southern California, Arrillaga was a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a bachelor's degree in English. She received master's degrees from Stanford University in communications and education.

She was an elementary school librarian and teacher for the Palo Alto School District until 1968, when she married and began raising a family.

Arrillaga's achievements have been recognized through numerous awards. She received Palo Alto's highest honor, the Tall Tree Award for Outstanding Citizen, in 1992. She also was named philanthropist of the year by the Peninsula Community Foundation and citizen of the year by the Stanford Area Council of the Boy Scouts. She received the Career Action Center's Woman of Vision award.

Friends and peers say she will be remembered for her close connection to the community.

"It would be so easy to look at Fran and say the reason she was successful was her substantial financial resources," Kniss said. "But with her personal qualities she would have been successful no matter what. She was so positive. She set an example and never asked anyone to do anything she wouldn't do. I'll miss her terribly."

"She made significant contributions not only in time but also to the treasuries of all those organizations," Ely said. "One of her great leadership qualities was her ability to get everyone to work together. And she always had a smile on her face."

"She cared very deeply about the community and was always willing to roll up her sleeves to get something done when she saw a need," said longtime friend and fellow volunteer Pam Brandin, executive director of the Peninsula Center for the Blind. "Nobody could recruit volunteers like she could and nobody was able to get things done like she could. She gave many, many gifts to the community and she received such satisfaction from that."

She is survived by her husband and her children, John Arrillaga Jr., 25, and Laura Arrillaga, 24, of Palo Alto; her parents, Edward and Marion Cook of Redondo Beach; and her brother, Ned Cook of Palos Verdes.

A public memorial service was held Tuesday afternoon at Stanford Memorial Church, followed by a reception at the Arrillaga Family Sports Center. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that contributions be made to a favorite charity.

--Peter Gauvin

Katharine C. Baker

Katharine C. Baker, 83, died Oct. 11. Born in New York and raised in Europe, she was a Palo Alto resident since 1936. She was a receptionist at the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, retiring in 1976. No services will be held. Contributions can be made to Friends of the Palo Alto Library, P.O. Box 41, Palo Alto, CA 94302.

Joseph Anthony Dearing

Joseph Anthony Dearing, 92, a Palo Alto resident for more than 50 years, died Oct. 12 at Lytton Gardens. A native of Santa Rosa, he was a photographer for Colliers magazine during World War II, covering both the European and Pacific theaters. After the war he wrote the "Uncle Joe Dearing's Fish and Game Column" for for the San Francisco Call Bulletin and later worked for the San Jose Mercury News. He was an avid fisherman and hunter. He is survived by his wife, Margaret Dearing of Palo Alto, and a sister, Dorothy Dubeault of Oakland.

Virginia Otterstrom Ray

Virginia Otterstrom Ray, 86, died Oct. 9 in Sandy, Utah. A native of Salt Lake City, she graduated with honors from the University of Utah in 1932, where she was president and a charter member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. After graduation she worked as a secretary at Northwestern University. After her marriage in 1934 she worked as a fashion designer in San Francisco. She was an active member of the Mormon Church, serving in positions including Relief Society counselor, primary teacher, pianist, genealogy librarian and visiting teacher. She was a resident of Fulton Street (Christmas Tree Lane) from 1947 to 1981, and belonged to the Garden Club of Palo Alto, the Allied Arts Guild and Las Casadas. She moved to Salt Lake City with her husband in 1981. She is survived by her husband of 61 years, Will Ray; a daughter, Joan Ray Harrow; and two grandsons, all of Salt Lake City.

Karen J. Shelsta

Karen J. Shelsta, 49, died Oct. 10 at Sharon Heights Convalescent Hospital after a long illness. She was a teacher at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula in Los Altos Hills and a resident of Menlo Park, Woodside and Redwood City for 25 years. She was a member of Messiah Lutheran Church of Redwood City and Families for Interracial Adoptions. She is survived by her husband, Stan Shelsta of Menlo Park; two sons, Daniel Shelsta and John Shelsta, both of Menlo Park; a daughter, Jan Shelsta of Menlo Park; a brother, Bill Beacock of El Granada; and a sister, Peggy Evans of New Mexico. Services have been held. Contributions can be made to Karen Shelsta 1995 Trust, care of Wells Fargo Bank, 735 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, CA 94025.

James Stillman Jr.

James Stillman Jr., 60, a 20-year resident of Portola Valley, died Oct. 8 in Vallejo after a long illness. Born in New York city, he attended the University of California, Berkeley and earned a bachelor's degree from Arizona State University in 1960. He worked for Standard Oil Company for 25 years. He was a member of Menlo Circus Club, coached tennis and was involved in the Boy Scouts. He is survived by four daughters, Kathy Blommer of Salt Lake City, Lisa Hagadone of Salt Lake City, Amy Hoag of Modesto and Tony McKale of Sonoma; two sons, James Stillman of Antioch and John Stillman of Redwood City; his father and stepmother, Dr. and Mrs. James Stillman of Brownsville, Texas; a sister, Leanne Brown of Rancho Sante Fe; and two brothers, Fowler Stillman of Zurich, Switzerland, and Alexander Stillman of Arkansas. Services have been held.

Revett Bradley Wallace

Revett Bradley Wallace, 70, died Oct. 12 at his home in Woodside. Born and raised in San Francisco, he attended Princeton University, then interrupted his education to serve as a Marine Corps pilot during World War II. After the war, he graduated from Stanford University in 1948. He started his career in advertising at the San Francisco Examiner, and later became vice-president of Million Market Newspapers. He was a member of the board of trustees of Thacher School in Ojai and Castilleja School in Palo Alto, and served as chairman of the board of Filoli. He was a member of the Bohemian Club and Menlo Country Club and a founding member of Cogers Club. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Katherine Shaw Wallace of Woodside; and four daughters, Vandy O'Reilly of Atherton, Derry McBride of Piedmont, Betsy Dixon of Atherton and Sarah Wallace of New York city. A memorial service will be held Oct. 18 at 11 a.m. at Holy Trinity Church in Menlo Park. Contributions can be made to Filoli, Canada Road, Woodside, CA 94062, or Katherine and Revett Wallace Scholarships, Alumni House, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720.

Obituaries are a free editorial service. Information should be submitted, typewritten, no later than 9 a.m. Monday for Wednesday's paper. Send to: Obituaries, Palo Alto Weekly, P.O. Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 94302, or fax to 326-3928. Please include a contact name and telephone number. The Weekly reserves the right to edit obituaries for space and format considerations.

Back up to the Table of Contents Page