Almanac

News - June 16, 2010

Obituaries: Dance teacher Marianne Crowder dies at 104

Marianne Elser Crowder, who taught dance and exercise to generations of Menlo Park residents, died June 4 of pancreatic cancer at her home in Palo Alto, surrounded by family and friends. She was 104.

Ms. Crowder celebrated her 104th birthday at a party April 23 at the Menlo Park Recreation Center. Nearly 100 guests, most of them former students, gathered to wish their beloved teacher well.

Born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Ms. Crowder exhibited her gift for dance at a very early age, according to her daughter, Susan Miller. She enrolled in the Perry Mansfield School of Dance and Theater in Colorado and studied with many of the leading pioneers of modern dance. After completing her studies, she joined the Hanya Holm Dance Company during its residencies at Bennington College and Mills College.

She managed and performed with the Perry Mansfield Company on the vaudeville circuit. Settling back in Colorado Springs, she taught modern and folk dance, becoming chairman of the dance department at Colorado College.

After she and writer Paul Crowder were married, the couple moved to California in 1940. For 19 years she taught in the Stanford University drama department and choreographed dances for Stanford's drama and music departments. An expert in historical dance, she received choreographic commissions for the Carmel Bach Festival and the film, "The Court Dances of the Renaissance."

Beginning in 1949, she initiated a series of courses in corrective exercise, sponsored by Palo Alto Adult Education and, later, Menlo Park Recreation. She also began a studio to teach young girls dance. Many programs, with scripts written by her husband, involved hundreds of local students through the years.

She retired from active teaching at 95. In 2007 she was honored as the oldest Girl Scout in America.

She is survived by her daughters, Anne Gully of Tempe, Arizona, and Susan Miller of Lafayette; 10 grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

A private family memorial service is planned. The family prefers donations to: The UCSF Foundation, Pancreas Cancer Program Fund, P.O. Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 94145-0339.

Damon Wedding

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, June 15, at the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church, 950 Santa Cruz Ave. in Menlo Park, for Damon Wedding of Atherton. Mr. Wedding died June 4 at the age of 89.

Mr. Wedding was a Farmers Insurance agent in Menlo Park for 35 years. He was also a member of the Menlo Park Kiwanis Club for 35 years, a past president, and program chairman for the past 12 years.

Mr. Wedding was a native of Kentucky, and his first eight years of education took place in a one-room country school. He worked his way through Western Kentucky University, graduating in 1943. In college, he trained with the infantry ROTC. During World War II, he served for three and a half years, including taking part in the Battle of Okinawa. His last command was that of company commander with the rank of captain.

Mr. Wedding worked for more than 20 years in the field sales department of the Pontiac Division of General Motors. He married Dona Gearhart in 1949. The couple moved to Omaha, Nebraska, and later returned to California. Mr. Wedding changed careers in 1967 and later became a Farmers Insurance agent.

The Weddings recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. Over the years, the couple made many trips to the Hawaiian Islands, their favorite vacation spot.

Mr. Wedding is survived by his wife, Dona of Atherton; daughters Linda A. Bonini of San Pedro, Rosemary L. Wedding of Scottsdale, Arizona, and Cindy M. Keitel of Camarillo; brother Jim Wedding of Columbus, South Carolina; and a grandson.

Donations in Mr. Wedding's memory, may be made to the Menlo Park Kiwanis Foundation, P.O. Box 311, Menlo Park, CA 94026.

Ruth Paya

Ruth Marian Paya, a longtime Menlo Park resident, died April 29 at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Hospice and Palliative Care Center. She was 89.

Born in Port Huron, Michigan, she served as an officer in the Women's Army Corps during World War II. In 1945 she moved to Menlo Park with her husband, Charles Paya, to attend Stanford University. She continued to live in Menlo Park until 2006, when she moved to Woodside Terrace retirement community in Redwood City.

When Ms. Paya became a single parent with four sons under the age of 10 and a teenage daughter, she refreshed her typing and shorthand skills and in 1964 was hired by the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, according to her daughter, Susie Marglin. In 1970 she transferred to the neurology department at Stanford Medical Center.

After her five children were grown, Ms. Paya worked for a newspaper in Agana, Guam. A few years later, she boarded a tramp steamer and sailed through Micronesia, writing a manual for women about traveling alone, according to Ms. Marglin.

In the years after retirement, she wrote a weekly column for seniors in the Palo Alto Times. She also taught at Palo Alto High School's adult night school. At Woodside Terrace, she wrote the monthly newsletter.

Ms. Paya is survived by her children, Susie Marglin of Bellevue, Washington, Charles Paya of Gardnerville, Nevada, Daniel Paya of Redwood City, Patrick Paya of Atlanta, Georgia, and Bruce Paya of Menlo Park; and eight grandchildren.

Memorials in her name may be made to the Ruth Paya memorial scholarship fund at Hawes Elementary School in Redwood City.

Parker M. Robinson Jr.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 19, at The Sequoias in Portola Valley for Parker Morrill Robinson Jr., who died June 2. An obituary on Mr. Robinson will appear in a future issue of The Almanac.

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