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Gaylynne Mann, a force for emergency preparedness

For someone seeking a role model for a take-charge personality, it would be hard to do better than Gaylynne Mann of Woodside. Ms. Mann, who died Feb. 10 after a long illness, was instrumental in helping to found and fully equip a disaster-response organization for the Woodside Fire Protection District -- a collection of semi-rural communities located within 32 square miles of dry, steep and thick forests along the infamous San Andreas fault.

A memorial service is set for 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church at 950 Santa Cruz Ave. in Menlo Park. Ms. Mann was 65.


Gaylynne Mann (Photo courtesy of Woodside Fire Protection District.)
From 1997 until recently when she chose to step down, Ms. Mann was the emergency coordinator for the Citizens Emergency and Response Preparedness Program, fire district officials said. CERPP consists of 25 divisions representing neighborhoods in Woodside, Portola Valley and nearby unincorporated areas, including Ladera, Vista Verde, Los Trancos Woods and Emerald Hills. Most divisions have volunteer leaders; Ms. Mann represented Emerald Hills in Woodside.

She led, but she also served. One of her signal achievements was developing and maintaining a key feature of CERPP: six or seven 8-foot-square-by-40-foot-long weatherproof containers of supplies, each intended to aid 350 people for 72 hours, former district fire chief Mike Fuge said. The containers are located near structures that can function as group shelters, and each shelter has a leader. "She put together a first-class program," Mr. Fuge said.

"She put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that program," said Fire Marshal Denise Enea. "She was a great asset to the entire community. She probably had more friends in the community than anybody I know (and) she had a lot of insight on what it meant to live in Woodside and what it meant to live in the fire protection district."

"I'm very saddened," Ms. Enea said. "She was my peer and my friend."

Ms. Mann brought her diplomatic skills to bear, Mr. Fuge said. "She was a wonderful person, but probably her strongest trait is that she could really connect with people, no matter who they were," he said.

It was Mr. Fuge who hired her. During district training exercises, Ms. Mann drew his attention because "she was always there," he said. She started by answering the phone, but "her program just kept growing," Mr. Fuge said. "Eventually, we had to hire someone else to run the front office." She was a district employee for more than eight years.

During her career, Ms. Mann received a fire-service award and an excellence award, and became an emergency medical technician and CPR instructor, former district fire chief Armando Muela said in an email.

"One of her greatest gifts was that she was a caregiver to anyone who needed help," said Glenda Fuge, who is married to Mike Fuge. "She always came second to anyone else. Words that I keep hearing from folks who knew her through her long journey with cancer are: grace, courage, warrior. She had a sense of humor right up until the day she died."

Survivors include Ms. Mann's husband Bill of Woodside; her brother Rick Servine of Oregon; two step-daughters; and a grandson.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Ms. Mann's name may be made to the Woodside PV Fire foundation, Nor-Ca Aussie Rescue, or Pathways Hospice.

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