Edna Elizabeth Elam, a longtime resident of Menlo Park, died January 7 after a brief illness. She was 87.
Born August 31, 1914, in Olds Ferry, Idaho, she married Daniel Wesley Elam on December 31, 1935. They moved to the Bay Area in the early 1940s, originally settling in Berkeley.
Mrs. Elam received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the College of Idaho in 1935 and a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Washington in 1940. She did extensive research for many years on vitamins B and C at the University of California at San Francisco and at the University of California at Berkeley before becoming a full-time homemaker.
Her family moved to Menlo Park in 1956. A devout Catholic, Mrs. Elam was attracted to the city in part because of its large Catholic community, the family said. She was an active parishioner at St. Raymond Catholic Church.
Mrs. Elam was often seen walking with her familiar, tall, wooden stick in the West Menlo neighborhood where she lived for the last 46 years. Few realized that the stick was originally used to mark her children's height as they grew, said a family member.
An advocate of organic foods, she ate only food that was organically grown and prepared, the family said.
Mrs. Elam is survived by her sister Frances Byer of Berkeley; daughters Barbara Key Coburn of Mission Viejo and Cherie Ann Elam of Hayward; son Charles Gary Elam of Corvallis, Oregon; and two grandchildren.
Services were held January 18 at St. Raymond Catholic Church in Menlo Park.
Virginia Nielsen Gradiska
Virginia Nielsen Gradiska, a 32-year resident of Portola Valley, died March 31 while on vacation in Kenya. She was 65.
Born in Chicago, Mrs. Gradiska attended Stanford University and graduated from Northwestern University. She moved to Portola Valley in 1970 with her two children from a previous marriage. While working as a volunteer at Woodside High School she met her future husband, vice principal Millord V. Gradiska.
Mrs. Gradiska showed her appreciation for the arts through her support of the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Ballet, the San Francisco Symphony, and Theatre Flamenco of San Francisco, family members said.
Her other interests included the work of her favorite charities, the World Wildlife Fund, UNICEF, the Arthritis Foundation and the Elephant Sanctuary. She was also passionate about travel, her family said.
She is survived by Millord, her husband of 22 years; her children Karen Hust of Hartford, Connecticut, and Audrey Hust Gow of Houston; her stepchildren Diana M. Gradiska of Portola Valley and Ken Gradiska of Los Altos; and seven grandchildren.
Services were held under the direction of Spangler Mortuary in Los Altos.
Co-founder of Raychem Corp.
Richard W. (Dick) Muchmore of Atherton, a Silicon Valley pioneer, died April 14 at Sequoia Hospital. He was 82.
Mr. Muchmore was born in Augusta, Kansas, and moved to Redwood City as a youngster. He graduated from Sequoia High School and Stanford University's School of Engineering.
In 1957 he, together with James Meikle and Paul Cook, founded Raychem Corp. in Menlo Park, based on their belief that high-energy radiation could be used to transform lightweight, inexpensive plastics into high-performance, electrical insulation products.
"Dick was an important contributor to Raychem's new product innovations, but more importantly to the creative methods of manufacture necessary for their commercial success," said Paul Cook.
"Dick was brilliant at taking new product ideas and figuring out ingenious and novel processes to produce them," Mr. Cook added. "Since it was Raychem's strategy to develop and introduce dozens of new products each year, Dick's role was very demanding."
Mr. Muchmore left Raychem in 1973 to start his own venture capital business, Muchmore Enterprises, but remained on the Raychem board of directors for many years. Muchmore Enterprises was one of the first venture capital businesses to locate at 3000 Sand Hill Road. He helped finance and establish several businesses, including Activision video games with his close friend, Jim Levy.
For several years he owned Los Gatos Lodge in Los Gatos, a popular site for weddings and social functions.
Mr. Muchmore was an avid golfer and a member of Sharon Heights Golf and Country Club for many years. He played golf with his parents as a youngster and, as an adult, played most of this country's and Europe's best courses. He was an avid reader and art collector, especially of works by California artists.
In addition to business travel around the world, he and his wife, Bobbie, made frequent trips to Europe. Mr. Muchmore contributed to many charitable causes, especially in India where he traveled several times, according to his wife.
He is survived by his wife, Bobbie, and stepchildren Lorrie Gidley of San Francisco and Jeffrey Gidley of Atherton.
A private celebration of Mr. Muchmore's life will be held on the couple's 16th wedding anniversary at their Atherton home later this month. The family prefers memorials be made to the American Cancer Society.
Shirley A. Burley
Former Menlo Park resident
Services were to be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 23, at St. Bede's Episcopal Church, Menlo Park, for Shirley Albertson Burley, who died April 19 in Bakersfield. She was 79.
Mrs. Burley, whose late husband Clarence Augustus "Cab" Burley purchased the Menlo Park Recorder in 1949, moved to Menlo Park in 1952 and lived in various locations in Woodside and Menlo Park before moving to Southern California several years ago.
Mrs. Burley was born in Chicago and grew up in Great Neck, New York. She married Mr. Burley in 1946. They moved to California in 1949 and lived in Marin before moving to Menlo Park. Mr. Burley died in 1970 after a six-year battle with cancer.
Mrs. Burley enjoyed traveling, especially to Hana on the island of Maui. She was an avid reader and gardener. She was a member of the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid/Peninsula, the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary to the children's hospital at Stanford, and a major contributor to the American Cancer Society, her family said.
She is survived by her children: the Rev. C.A. Burley III of Bakersfield, Mary Cassata Badu of Anderson, Peter Burley of Larkspur, Colorado, and Nancy Bueller of Costa Mesa; sister Barbara Wildman of Menlo Park; cousin Huyler Held of New York; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Arrangements were under the direction of Spangler Mortuaries.
Albert Thomas Kieninger
Allied Arts shop owner
A memorial Mass for Albert Thomas Kieninger is planned for 10 a.m. Monday, April 29, at Our Lady of the Wayside Catholic Church, 930 Portola Road in Portola Valley.
Mr. Kieninger died in Menlo Park on April 21. He was 81.
A native of New York, he was a longtime resident of Menlo Park, where he owned the Barn Wood Shop at the Allied Arts Guild. Mr. Kieninger was also a veteran who served in the U.S. Navy for four years.
He was preceded in death by his wife Maxine. He is survived by his children, Kim, Thomas, Mary, Matthew, and Marie and Danny; his siblings Richard Kieninger and Joyce Waldeman; and 12 grandchildren.
Arrangements are by the John D. O'Connor Menlo Colonial Chapel.
Financial planner, Navy lieutenant
Dean B. Brubaker, a resident of Atherton for 42 years, died April 15. He was 79.
Mr. Brubaker served in World War II as Navy lieutenant, and in Korea.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska with a degree in business administration, he was a financial planner for 40 years. He was a Charter Life Underwriter and a member of the Million Dollar Round Table for many years.
Mr. Brubaker was a trap shooter, hunter, golfer, and instructor for California's Hunter Safety Course, said his wife. His sense of humor, kindness and generous spirit will be missed, she said.
Mr. Brubaker is survived by his wife of 57 years, Nadine; three daughters, Linda Markovitch, Donna Funk, and Betsy Brubaker; and his brother, Guy Brubaker.
The memorial service was held April 19 at the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. Arrangements were made by Spangler Mortuaries.
Former Atherton resident
Dorothy A. Eggebrecht, a former longtime resident of Atherton, died on April 11 in Hammond, Indiana. She was 83.
While a resident of Atherton, she taught business and accounting. She was a member of the Little House senior center in Menlo Park.
Ms. Eggebrecht is survived by her brother Edward; four nephews; and four cousins.
Services will be held at the Schroeder-Lauer Funeral Home in Lansing, Illinois. Burial will follow at the Concordia Evangelist Lutheran Cemetery in Hammond, Indiana.
Former Menlo Park resident
A funeral Mass was to be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, April 30, at St. Raymond Church, 1100 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, for Connie Ventura, who died April 26 at Sutter General Hospital, Elk Grove. She was 84.
Mrs. Ventura was born in Honolulu and came with her family to San Francisco as an infant. She married Stanley W. Ventura in 1946. The family moved to Menlo Park in 1955, where she lived until moving to Elk Grove in 2001.
Mrs. Ventura was a homemaker who enjoyed gardening, and was a member of St. Raymond Church.
She is survived by her children Richard A. Ventura of Elk Grove and Georga L. King of Bethel Island, Georgia; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Her husband, Stanley W. Ventura, died before her.
Burial was to be at Holy Cross Cemetery, Menlo Park.
Portola Valley resident
Dorothy May Burner Howerton died April 25 at her home in Portola Valley, where she had lived since 1954. She was 74.
Mrs. Howerton was born in Elko, Nevada. After marrying Vincil Howerton in 1946, the couple moved to California in 1950. In 1971 they founded Columbia Mechanical Corp. in San Francisco. Mrs. Howerton served as president of the company for 30 years until resigning because of her battle with cancer.
Mrs. Howerton and her husband traveled all over the world and, for the last seven years, enjoyed spending time at their home in Maui. She was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and a former "pink lady" volunteer at Stanford Hospital.
She is survived by her husband, Vince; son Wayne of Atlanta; daughters Valerie Miller of Pacifica and Victoria of Rome, Utah; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Services were held April 29 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1105 Valparaiso Ave., Menlo Park, with private internment.
Samuel H. Kauffmann, a former, 15-year resident of Portola Valley, died April 5 in Palm Springs. He was 78.
Born in Washington, D.C., he dropped out of Princeton University to join the Army in World War II. After the war, he graduated from Stanford University on the G.I. Bill.
Mr. Kauffmann founded Brown & Kauffmann Inc., a homebuilding firm, in 1952. The company built some 6,000 homes in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, including the Oregon Park and Meadow Park subdivisions in Palo Alto, and The Knolls of Belmont subdivision in Belmont, before it was acquired by Potlach Corp. in the 1970s.
He is survived by his wife of 15 years, Marilyn; three sons, Eric Kauffmann of Kings Beach, Lee Kauffmann of Lake Tahoe, and Wayne Kauffmann of Minneapolis; three daughters, Ingrid Kauffmann of Miranda, Coco Meltzer of Honeydew, and Dana Kauffmann of Sonora; and seven grandchildren.
Services are yet to be scheduled. Arrangements were made by Wiefels & Son Funeral Directors, Palm Springs.
Educator, advocate for Latino children
Educator Mario Chacon, an advocate for Latino children and a foe of discrimination, was remembered by family and friends during a memorial service May 4 at Unity Community Church in Palo Alto.
Mr. Chacon, 52, died April 28 after an eight-year battle against cancer. He served as an assistant superintendent of the Sequoia Union High School District for almost eight years in the 1990s before resigning and working as a consultant.
Mr. Chacon in 1997 married Tess Lauffer-Chacon, the former instructional vice principal at Menlo-Atherton High School and now principal of Capuchino High School in San Bruno. They lived in Redwood Shores.
Earlier this year, Mr. Chacon helped mobilize Latino parents of children in the Ravenswood City School District to fight to improve their children's under-performing schools, even as he was undergoing chemotherapy and preparing for a second bone-marrow transplant.
Recognized as one of the top 100 educators in North America by the American School Board Journal and the Executive Educator, Mr. Chacon worked in the field of education for nearly three decades. He taught in high schools and community colleges, and served as principal of elementary, middle and high schools. He also was a district-level administrator in rural and urban areas, and a consultant for the state and U.S. departments of education.
He is credited with leading Horace Mann Middle School in San Francisco from its status as a low-performing school to national Blue Ribbon recognition.
Born in San Francisco, Mr. Chacon spent most of his childhood in Costa Rica. He became passionate about eliminating racism and educational inequality as a result, in part, of his own experiences as a victim of discrimination. When he returned to the United States at age 15, he was placed in a remedial math class because he didn't speak English, even though he knew algebra.
Later in graduate school, he worked for programs to get dropouts back in school and to teach Spanish to police officers and parking meter readers.
The Mario Chacon Memorial College Scholarship Fund has been established to help Latino students attend four-year universities. Gifts may be sent to the fund in care of the San Mateo Union High School District, 650 North Delaware St., San Mateo, CA 94401.
Mr. Chacon is survived by his wife, Tess Lauffer-Chacon; a son, Daniel Chacon of Los Angeles; a daughter, Kristin Chacon of Santa Barbara; his mother Yvonne Soto-Chacon of Costa Rica; a twin brother, Juan Rafael Chacon of Costa Rica; and sisters, Rita, Sylvia, Yvonne and Barbara Chacon, all of Costa Rica.
White Oaks Chapel of San Carlos handled the funeral arrangements.
Menlo Park summer resident
Helen Ray Madden, who spent over 40 summers in Menlo Park, died April 25 in San Francisco. She was 89.
Mrs. Madden was born in Pocatello, Idaho. In 1931 she attended Stanford University, where she was elected the first woman vice president of the Associated Students and was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority.
She became engaged to Stanley Madden and married him December 29, 1935, in Pocatello, just in time to catch a train to see Stanford play in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
The Maddens and their children spent 40 summers in Menlo Park, escaping San Francisco's fog. At that time there were only three or four houses on Avy Avenue, says son Jim Madden. Altschul Avenue and connecting streets to the Alameda were merely dirt roads.
Jim Madden acquired the lot and cottage from his parents in 1996 and built a new home on the property.
Mrs. Madden was a member of the Century Club, the Victorian House, the San Francisco Golf Club, and various other organizations.
She is survived by her husband, Stanley; sons Tom, Fred, and Jim; and three grandchildren. A memorial service was held May 4 at the Century Club, San Francisco.
Menlo Park resident
Vivian Galant, who had lived in Menlo Park since 1954, died at home April 17.
Mrs. Galant was born and raised in San Francisco. When attending the University of California at Berkeley, she met her husband, the late Aaron Galant. They were married for 60 years.
Mrs. Galant was a member of the Menlo-Atherton Newcomers Club, Menertons, American Association of University Women, and the African Violet Society. She loved theater, the arts, her garden and books, say family members.
She is survived by her daughter, Gloria Galant Symon of Palo Alto; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild. Her daughter Paula Galant Sirof preceded her in death.
Private family services were held. The family prefers contributions in her name to Mid-Peninsula Pathways Hospice, 201 San Antonio Circle, #104, Mountain View CA 94040.
Barbara K. Gilmer
Bookkeeper and hiker
Barbara K. Gilmer, a lifelong resident of Menlo Park, died at home May 25. She was 76.
The daughter of Wallace C. and Katharyn P. Eshleman, Mrs. Gilmer graduated from Las Lomitas School and Sequoia High School before attending San Jose State College.
She married Patrick A. Gilmer in 1946 and they lived in Menlo Park. Mr. Gilmer died in 1979.
Mrs. Gilmer worked for 42 years as a bookkeeper at Dee Tozer Advertising. Her co-workers said she will be remembered for her gentle nature, intellect, sense of humor, and ability to get along with everyone.
An avid hiker, naturalist and a lifetime member of the Sierra Club, Mrs. Gilmer enjoyed hiking in the Sierra and once climbed Mount Whitney with fellow Sierra Club members, said her family.
Also an avid reader, she instilled a love of reading in her children, according to family members. She volunteered frequently at the Menlo Park Library.
She is survived by her four children: Myles Gilmer, Melinda Conrad, Merry Alter, and Brian Gilmer; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America or to a favorite charity.