ObituariesH. Myrl Stearns
Services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at Ladera Community Church, 3300 Alpine Road in Portola Valley, for H. Myrl Stearns, who died Oct. 9 at Marin General Hospital, three months after the death of his wife of 67 years, Ruth Stearns. He was 90.
Mr. Stearns was one of the six men who founded Varian Associates and served as its president from 1957 to 1964. The Stearns were among the earliest residents of Ladera, where they lived from 1949 until they moved to Bolinas in 1995.
Mr. Stearns was born in rural Idaho and graduated from the University of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. After graduating in 1937, he continued his studies while he was a teaching assistant at Stanford University.
He married his college sweetheart, Ruth Bevis, in 1939. Mary Ann Thompson of Portola Valley, a family friend, recalls that both the Stearns worked their way through college.
His first job was in the new medium of television. He worked on the first crew that televised the Rose Bowl Parade. Shirley Temple was grand marshal.
From 1941 to 1948 he worked in radar research and development with Sperry Gyroscope Co. of New York, one of the nation's leading defense contractors during World War II.
In 1948 he moved his family to California and joined the founding team of Varian Associates in San Carlos. His badge number was No. 2 and he was named executive vice president and general manager. Because of his high security clearance, Mr. Stearns negotiated all the defense contracts for Varian in the early days, say family members.
In 1959 the Stearns family moved to Switzerland for a year while he scouted locations for Varian plants in Europe. Between 1948 and 1960, he logged more than 1 million miles on United Airlines, say family members.
Mr. Stearns became president of Varian from 1957, when the company moved its headquarters to Palo Alto, until 1964. He was a member of the board of directors until 1991.
Because their daughter, Sally, loved horses and needed a place to ride and stable her horse, Mr. Stearns purchased and developed the property at 725 Portola Road in Portola Valley that is now Spring Down Equestrian Center.
Memorials may be made to the University of Idaho Foundation, attention: H. Myrl and Ruth Stearns Academic Excellence Endowment, P.O. Box 443150, Moscow, Idaho 83844.
Ruth Bevis Stearns
Ruth Stearns died June 19 in Bolinas after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 90.
Ms. Stearns was born in Spokane, Washington. When she was 9 years old, she contracted polio, and though she walked with a limp the rest of her life, she hiked everywhere with her family, say family members. She graduated from the University of Idaho and wrote for newspapers in Idaho and Los Angeles.
During the years she lived in Ladera, Ms. Stearns was involved in many community activities. With two close friends, Leah Chodorow and Nancy Hofstetter, she started the first school in the area for autistic children, Peninsula Children's Center, leasing an old building off Alpine Road from Stanford University for the school. The Peninsula Children's Center is now called Achievekids.
She was an expert in stitchery. She designed and worked with friends on the large wall hanging of St. Francis of Assisi that is now displayed in the sanctuary of Ladera Community Church. Another of her projects, "Threads into Stained Glass," was displayed at her memorial service.
She will be remembered as quick-witted, funny and energetic, say family members.
The Stearns are survived by their children, Pamela Oxley of Punta Chivato, Mexico; Keith Stearns of Trinidad, California; Gordon Stearns of Ukiah; and Sally Peacock of Bolinas. Other survivors are 10 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.
Margaret M. Fisher
Margaret McKee Fisher, a longtime resident of Portola Valley died peacefully Oct. 6. She was 88.
Ms. Fisher was a familiar sight in Portola Valley as she walked regularly wearing a red jacket and carrying a walking stick. An animal lover, she carried treats for dogs in her left pocket and apples for horses in her right pocket, friends remember. "Every day, my dogs would wait for her," recalled Danna Breen, a close friend.
Margaret McKee was born in Santa Barbara in 1918, but lived most of her life in the Bay Area. She graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1935, and from San Jose State College in 1940 with a degree in accounting. She married the late Curt Fisher in 1940.
Ms. Fisher became a pioneer and role model for women in accounting. She started as an accountant with Coopers & Lybrand in 1940, and stayed for 44 years. In 1965, she became the first woman manger in the national accounting firm. "She pioneered for women in management," said nephew Carl Fisher of Saratoga.
Ms. Fisher also did the first audits for the Peninsula Open Space Trust, which has preserved more than 50,000 acres on the Peninsula, recalled Bob Augsburger, the first executive director of the Menlo Park-based land trust. "I was really grateful for her good work," he said.
After retiring and signing up with The Sequoias senior complex in Portola Valley, Ms. Fisher kept active. For 11 years she served on the Residents' Financial Advisory Committee, where she brought an experienced eye to the annual negotiations over resident fees, Mr. Augsburger, also a resident, added.
The Fishers were also adventurous travelers, friends remember. "They took freighters all over the world," said Ms. Breen.
Ms. Fisher is survived by Carl Fisher; her sister-in-law Roberta McKee of Palo Alto; and niece Greta MacLeod of Kenwood.
The family suggests donations to Pathways Home Health & Hospice, 585 N. Mary Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085; or to Peninsula Open Space Trust (POST), 3000 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25, at St. Raymond Catholic Church, 1100 Santa Cruz Ave. in Menlo Park, for Josie I. Bongio, who died Oct. 18 at Sequoia Health Services in Redwood City. She was 98.
Ms. Bongio was born in Santa Cruz. She lived in Menlo Park for 77 years. She enjoyed her garden and San Francisco Giants baseball games.
Friends may call from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, at the Menlo Park Chapel of Spangler Mortuaries, 650 Live Oak Ave. in Menlo Park.
Ms. Bongio is survived by her son, Ron Bongio; three grandsons; and six great-grandchildren. Her husband, Egidio Bongio, and daughter, Margaret Brassea, preceded her in death.
Contributions may be made to Sequoia Hospital Foundation, 170 Alameda de las Pulgas, Redwood City, CA 94062 in memory of Josie Bongio; or to Younglife, P.O. Box 20822, El Sobrante, CA 94820.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at St. Raymond Church, 1100 Santa Cruz Ave., Menlo Park, for Lucille Balistreri of Menlo Park. Ms. Balistreri died Oct. 22 at Stanford Medical Center. She was 90.
Ms. Balistreri was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and attended Lamb's Business School. In 1939, she married Salvatore Balistreri who died in 1955. Before moving to Indio, California, in 1974, Ms. Balistreri worked as a executive secretary on Wall Street and, later, for Bank Leumi of Israel.
After moving to California, she became an active volunteer, serving more than 1,000 hours as a pink lady for Indio Community Hospital. She also was a hospice volunteer for Eisenhower Medical Center, an Earthquake Relief volunteer for the Red Cross in Yucca Valley at age 75, and secretary of the Republican Party office in Indio until she was 79.
In 2002, she moved to a nursing home in Menlo Park. She will be remembered for her joie de vivre, New York spirit, and creativity, say family members. She was patriotic, loved dining out, dancing, good conversation, and anything to do with cats.
She is survived by her children: Annette Sanders of Keller, Texas, Salvatore Balistreri of Staten Island, and Mary Ann Saunders of Menlo Park; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildlren.
Donations in her memory may be sent to the Braille Institute, 70-241 Ramon Road, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270.
Maria Teresa Imperiale
Maria Teresa Imperiale, a resident of Menlo Park for 53 years, died at home Oct. 9. She was 79.
Ms. Imperiale was a homemaker who enjoyed cooking, shopping and sewing.
She is survived by her daughter, Margaret Imperiale of Menlo Park, and son James Imperiale of Fremont. Her husband, Geromo Imperiale, preceded her in death.
Services were held at Spangler Mortuary. Entombment was at Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Los Altos.
Private services have been held for Janice M. Garber of Woodside, who died in a solo vehicle automobile accident on Highway 84 west of La Honda on Oct. 8. She was 59.
Ms. Garber was born in Banner Elk, North Carolina, and was a resident of Woodside for 22 years.
She is survived by her mother, Marie McGuire of Mt. Holly, North Carolina; and brother, Frank McGuire of Charlotte, North Carolina. Her husband, Joseph R. Garber, preceded her in death.
Memorials may be made to the San Francisco Opera, 301 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94102; Attention: Development in memory of Mrs. J.R. Garner.
Arrangements were under the direction of Crippen & Flynn Woodside Chapel.