After eight years on the Palo Alto school board and five on the City Council, Joe Simitian was elected to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors on Nov. 5. But election night was memorable for much more than just his hard-fought victory over Barbara Koppel of Cupertino: Just 15 minutes before the polls closed he asked his campaign manager Mary Hughes, a friend of eight years, to marry him. "And she said, 'Yes,'" Simitian announced to cheers at his election party. The icing on the cake was that he won the District 5 race by a wide margin (57.6 percent to 42.4 percent) after coming in second, six points behind Koppel, in the March primary. The election, though, was marred by charges and counter charges over campaign funding.
City officials stepped down in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto and Palo Alto. In Menlo Park, Cal Jones announced July 1 that he would not seek reelection to the City Council. Jones, who had spent 10 of the past 12 years on the council, was an opponent of Stanford's Sand Hill Road projects. Also in July, after eight years on the East Palo Alto City Council, Bill Vines announced that he would not seek reelection in November. Palo Alto Assistant City Manager Bernie Strojny left for a job as city manager of Campbell. Strojny had led the city's effort to get on the Internet and convinced the council in August to pursue building a $2 million, 15-mile fiber optic ring for high-speed telecommunications.
After 10 months of being scattered in three separate buildings, the Senior Coordinating Council reopened a refurbished Senior Center on June 25. The 71-year-old building at 450 Bryant St.--originally designed by Birge Clark to be a joint headquarters for the police and fire departments--underwent a major seismic renovation to bring it up to current seismic codes.
The Stanford University Board of Trustees elected a new chairman, Robert M. Bass, president of a Texas investment company and owner of a home in the Palo Alto foothills. Bass, 48, a trustee since 1989, replaced John Freidenrich, a Palo Alto attorney who headed the board for the past four years. Bass, who received an MBA at Stanford, and his wife, Anne, gave a $25 million donation to the university during Stanford's Centennial campaign in 1992 and have endowed five professorships, funded four fellowships and made other gifts to Stanford.
The Urban Ministry of Palo Alto looks after the needs of the area's poor and homeless. But it has had a tough time finding someone to look after its own needs lately. In April, the ministry's board of directors accepted the resignation of director Olaf Lidums, who had been ineffective in straightening out the agency's books. After a four-month search, the ministry hired L.E. Bailey Boydstron, who had extensive experience in the management of nonprofits. Then, in December, Boydstron resigned, saying he wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial idea of his--developing a child-safe air bag for cars. Boydstron's departure marks the fourth time that the agency has had to search for a new director since Jim Burko stepped down in 1993.
After 23 years in Palo Alto, the Career Action Center left town in September to move into a larger facility in Cupertino. Founded in 1973 as the Resource Center for Women and located on Emerson Street, the center moved to 445 Sherman Ave. in the California Avenue area in 1977 and then changed its name in 1988 to serve both women and men.
Museum lovers in Palo Alto had plenty to be thankful for this year. Two local museums were saved and another decided to try to relocate here. The first bit of good news came in January when the Barbie Museum and Hall of Fame, billed as the largest collection of Barbie memorabilia in the world, would be allowed to remain at 433 Waverley St. The museum had faced eviction from the building's new owner, Rowena Wu, who didn't think it was compatible with her plans. In June, the Museum of American Heritage learned that it had finally prevailed in its effort to relocate to the historic, city-owned Williams House on Homer Avenue. The museum had been housed on Alma Street, but officials said the museum could no longer afford the lease payments. The museum will pay $1 per year to the city, but it will spend more than $300,000 improving the old home. Finally, in October, the Computer History Museum of Boston announced that it would relocate to Silicon Valley. The museum, the largest collection of computer artifacts in the world, hasn't found a site yet, but organizers say they would ideally like to find space in Palo Alto or Menlo Park.
The Palo Alto-Menlo Park area lost its only nationally known record label in July when Windham Hill Records moved to Beverly Hills. The company, whose trademark is "New Age" music, was uprooted when its owner, New York-based BMG Entertainment, wanted to consolidate its labels in Southern California. Windham Hill was founded in Palo Alto in 1976 by Stanford graduates Will Ackerman and Anne Robinson. It moved to its Menlo Park headquarters a few years later and grew into a company of about 50 employees, many of whom decided to relocate to Beverly Hills. Windham Hill's departure leaves the Bay Area with only one major record label, Fantasy, based in Berkeley.
Required to find a new home because its site was scheduled to be zoned for high-density housing by 1998, the Linus Pauling Institute announced in January that it would move to Oregon State University after more than 20 years in the Palo Alto area. Only three or four of the institute's 32 employees were to go to Oregon. In December, just four months after the institute left, a Palo Alto developer presented the Architectural Review Board with a proposal for use of the site. The plan by BK Ltd. would put 35 condominium units on the Page Mill Road site. The institute, which does research on nutrition and human health, was founded in Menlo Park by Linus Pauling after he retired as Stanford professor of chemistry in 1973. It had moved to Palo Alto in 1981. The Nobel prize-winning chemist died in 1994.
Dave Schultz, 36, a Palo Alto High School wrestler who won a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, died Jan. 26. He was shot to death at the home of John E. du Pont in Pennsylvania. The heir to the chemical company fortune was charged in the killing.
Josina Bol, 94, a longtime community volunteer and benefactor of Bol Park in Barron Park, died Feb. 16.
John D. "Jack" Sutorius, 65, a former Palo Alto council member and mayor known for his thoroughness and dedication, died Feb. 21.
Stanley R. Norton, former Palo Alto council member and mayor who played a key role in the formation of the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, died Feb. 25.
Albert Wilson, 93, a landscape and gardening expert from Menlo Park who designed the Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford died March 8. Katherine Beebe Harris, 94, a pioneering journalist who fought sexual discrimination throughout her career from the 1920s to the 1950s, died March 10 at her Stanford home.
John D. "Judge" Russell, 84, director of Menlo College from 1955 to 1977, died March 14.
David Packard, 83, co-founder of Hewlett Packard Co., died March 26. (See Top 10 stories.)
Betty Newland Hogue, 79, former supervisor of Children's Services for the Palo Alto City Library, died April 7.
Les Malloy, 80, a talk radio pioneer from Atherton who later owned several Bay Area radio stations, died April 4.
Toshio T. Saburomaru, 77, an internationally-known bonsai master who owned several local nurseries, died April 16.
Dale F. Yee, 75, a well-known community volunteer from Palo Alto and co-founder of the Chinese Community Center of the Peninsula, died May 1.
Dr. Milton Saier, 93, an allergy specialist and the last surviving founding partner of the Palo Alto Medical Clinic, died May 16.
Charlie Keenan, 80, an early partner in Cornish & Carey Real Estate, died Aug. 10. His wife, Anne, 78, a longtime Palo Altan, died two days later.
Preston Cutler, 83, a member of the Palo Alto Unified School District's board of education from 1966 to 1978, died Oct. 30.
Alexander Kulakoff, 68, a longtime local developer from Menlo Park, died Nov. 19. Maria Holt, 83, general director of Palo Alto's West Bay Opera since 1969, died Nov. 24.
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