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Publication Date: Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Jeanne Dickey: Woodside loses a giving, guiding spirit Jeanne Dickey: Woodside loses a giving, guiding spirit (July 30, 2003)

By Andrea Gemmet
Almanac Staff Writer

The flag in front of Woodside's Independence Hall flew at half-mast last week in honor of Jeanne Dickey, a former councilwoman and leading member of the community. Ms. Dickey died unexpectedly at her home July 22 at the age of 77.

A 41-year resident of Woodside, she was a tireless volunteer whose involvement extended from Woodside Elementary School to the Woodside Village Church and included many years of civic service.

During her 12 years on the Town Council, which included two terms as mayor, Ms. Dickey saw the town through landslides and earthquakes, the development of Town Hall and the revision of the general plan. After she stepped down from the council in 1993, she joined the group that would become the Woodside History Committee, and was appointed to the Conservation and Environmental Health Committee; she was active in both until her death.

She continued to regularly attend Town Council meetings, and often offered "history moments" about prominent people or events in Woodside.

"Jeanne's greatest strength was her tireless dedication to carrying Woodside's history forward, threading it throughout our civic projects, capturing it in the words of our general plan and raising public awareness that we are privileged to live in a community like Woodside," said Mayor Sue Boynton.

Ms. Dickey had recently returned from a three-week trip to Scandinavia and was looking forward to an upcoming vacation in Alaska with her family, friends said.

"It was a great shock. People were talking to a cheerful, happy Jeanne as late as [that] morning," said the Rev. Robert Hamerton Kelly, pastor of the Woodside Village Church. She died in her kitchen while fixing her lunch, he said.

Ms. Dickey was member of the church's investment committee, a leading force in the altar guild, and prominent member of the buildings and grounds committee, overseeing the landscaping and championing the use of native plants, he said.

"As she was a mainstay of the town, so she was of the church. We loved her and relied on her," said Rev. Hamerton Kelly.

Claudia Marshall, the chair of Woodside's Architectural and Site Review Board, said she got to know Ms. Dickey through her involvement with the town, and their shared love of Woodside brought them closer over the years.

"I've always been in awe of her, and she's been my inspiration for many years, as a woman of incredible strength and integrity," said Ms. Marshall.

Most recently, Ms. Marshall served with Ms. Dickey on the steering committee for the Woodside Community Museum, working to restore the historic Mathisen house, and open it up as a local history museum.

"She championed the project from the very beginning," said Robert Flint, who chairs the steering committee.

Ms. Dickey was influential in convincing the Town Council to endorse the Mathisen house project and in getting contributions from friends, he said. The museum's grand opening is scheduled for the Woodside Environment Fest in October.

Born in Oakland October 20, 1925, she was proud to be a fourth-generation Californian. She was raised in Piedmont and attended Stanford University, graduating in 1947. She earned a master's degree in social welfare from UC Berkeley in 1949, and married her college sweetheart, Frank Dickey, in 1951. They moved to Woodside in 1962, where they raised their three children.

Prior to her service on the Town Council, Ms. Dickey spent eight years on the Woodside Trails Committee, four years as a member of the Architectural and Site Review Board, and four years on the Master Plan and General Plan Committee.

While on the council, she and councilwoman Barbara Seitle were the targets of a failed recall attempt in 1992 -- the recall fizzled when organizers couldn't get enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

Joan Stiff, who served on the council with Ms. Dickey, called her the "solid citizen of Woodside."

"You could always count on her -- whenever you needed to do something, whenever there was a crisis, whenever you needed a level head, Jeanne was there," Ms. Stiff said. "She was a hard worker and she always managed to keep her sense of humor. She was steadfast."

Ms. Dickey belonged to the board of directors of the Jr. League Palo Alto, United Way, the Ravenswood Childcare Center in East Palo Alto, Golden Gate Kindergarten in San Francisco and the Woodside Community Foundation. She was a past president of the Woodside Elementary School PTA, a founder of the Valley Auxiliary of Family Services Agency, vice president of the San Mateo County chapter of the Society of California Pioneers, a member of the Woodside-Atherton Garden Club and an early supporter of the Woodside School Foundation.

She is survived by her children, Matthew Dickey of Glen Ellen, and Anne Schoebel and Mark Dickey, both of Woodside; and seven grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank, in 1992.

A memorial service was held at the Woodside Village Church, co-celebrated by Rev. Hamerton Kelly and Father Scott Hayashi of Christ Church in Portola Valley, where Ms. Dickey was also a member.

In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorial donations be made to the Woodside Community Museum, c/o the Woodside Community Foundation, P.O. Box 620494, Woodside, CA 94062.


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