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July 21, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Obituaries Obituaries (July 21, 2004)

Ingrid Barrett Smith
Wife, mother, community volunteer

Ingrid Barrett Smith, a volunteer who was instrumental in helping raise funds for Menlo Park public schools, died at her home in Menlo Park on July 7, nine months after she was diagnosed with stomach cancer. She was 48.

Family and friends said she faced her disease with the same grace and determination she exhibited throughout her life.

She is survived by her husband of 17 years, Lyle Smith; their sons, Colin, 15, a sophomore at Menlo-Atherton High School, and Derek, 12, a seventh-grader at Hillview Middle School; and her mother, Clotilde Barrett, and brother Ken Barrett, both of Torrey, Utah.

A service is set for 3 p.m. Thursday, July 29, at Stanford Memorial Church.

Spending her childhood in Illinois and Colorado, she went on to receive a bachelor's degree in statistics from Colorado State University and a master's in economics from the University of California, Davis.

She became an econometrician and later, a data-applications designer, most recently with Business Objects of San Jose. A woman with an adventurous spirit, she accepted work assignments in Saudi Arabia and Europe.

In 1987, she married Lyle Smith, and they settled in Menlo Park, where their two sons were born. When the boys entered Oak Knoll Elementary School, she found time to use her professional skills in volunteering.

At Oak Knoll School, Ms. Smith was instrumental in organizing the annual Otter Run fundraiser. A former marathon runner, she frequently won her age division in the 5K Otter Run.

After serving as auditor for the Oak Knoll PTA in 1999, she brought her expertise in database design to the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation, which raises funds for Menlo Park public schools. While on the foundation board, she managed the foundation's database that supports fundraising and communications.

She helped the foundation reach the million-dollar mark in annual fundraising, said June Flora, outgoing foundation president.

For her many contributions, community leaders awarded her the Honorary Service Award in 2000 and the Continuing Service Award in 2003.

The foundation has established the Ingrid Smith Math & Science Award, to be given annually to a teacher in the Menlo Park City School District who develops innovative methods of teaching math or science to students attending Laurel, Encinal, Oak Knoll or Hillview schools.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Ms. Smith's honor may be made to the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation, P.O. Box 584, Menlo Park, CA 94026-0584. Donations to Stanford University for gastric cancer research in memory of Ingrid Smith should be made in care of Cynthia Newalder, Office of Medical Development, 2700 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025.

Nathalie Dewey Westbrook
Teacher with roots in history

Nathalie Dewey Westbrook, 87, whose passion was teaching, died July 6 at Stanford Hospital after suffering a brain aneurysm. She had lived in Menlo Park for the past 52 years.

She had requested that no services be held. Memorials may be made to the Sempervirens Fund, Drawer BE, Los Altos, CA 94023-40454.

Mrs. Westbrook began her teaching career at Phelps Central School in Phelps, New York, after graduating in 1940 from Geneseo Normal School. Born in Canandaigua, New York, she grew up in Batavia, New York, and graduated from schools in Batavia.

She moved to California, where in 1944 she married Charles Westbrook, an earth scientist at Stanford Research Institute, now SRI, in Menlo Park. While raising their three children, she was active in PTA and scouts.

Mrs. Westbrook returned to teaching as a substitute in the Menlo Park, Las Lomitas and Ravenswood elementary school districts for seven years, and then taught for 16 years in the Portola Valley School District. Her sixth-grade students at the former Portola Valley School and later Corte Madera School remember writing their autobiographies in her class. She was a stickler for correct spelling and punctuation and putting forth one's best effort, they said.

After retiring from the Portola Valley district in 1982, she and her husband traveled extensively. They visited almost all the states across the country and made four trips to Europe, spending time in England, Scotland, Central Europe, Italy and Paris.

Mrs. Westbrook was proud of her American heritage that goes back to her ancestors' arrival on the Mayflower, family members said. She was an active member and registrar of the National Society of the Daughters of the Revolution, Gaspar de Portola Chapter (Stanford); and a member of the Society of the Mayflower (Sequoia and San Francisco Colonies) and Descendants of the Veterans of George Washington's Army at Valley Forge. She belonged to the San Mateo County Genealogical Society and the Historical Society of East Bloomfield, New York.

In addition to genealogy research, Mrs. Westbrook devoted time to teaching the etiquette of the American flag to schoolchildren and civic groups. She made several Braille flags for the blind. As a board member, she was involved in the restoration of the historic Union Cemetery in Redwood City.

A member of the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church since 1953, Mrs. Westbrook also was a member of Little House where she participated in the computer club and classes, especially to further her genealogy projects.

She is survived by her husband, Charles Westbrook of Menlo Park; three children, Barbara W. Tanaka of Okemos, Michigan, Joan W. Worley of Saratoga and Thomas Westbrook of Prunedale; six grandchildren; two great-grandchildren; sister Georgia Dewey Hoover; and brother Richard Dewey.

"She will be greatly missed by her family, former students and many friends blessed to know her," said her daughter Ms. Tanaka.

Ralph Eric Blom
Stanford alumnus, Menlo Park resident

Ralph Eric Blom, a Menlo Park resident, died July 12 at Los Gatos Community Hospital. He was 79.

Born in Helsinki, he attended school in Finland and Sweden, and served in the Finnish army during World War II. After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1950, he served in the U.S. Army reserves in Germany.

Mr. Blom graduated from Stanford University with a degree in electrical engineering and worked for American Standards Co. in Redwood City and Singer Research Co. in Sunnyvale. He was a life member of the Stanford University Alumni Association, and enjoyed classical music, playing golf, bird-watching, and assembling clockworks, his family said.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis of Menlo Park; daughter Nancy Blom Kerstetter; and a granddaughter.

A memorial service was held at St. Raymond Catholic Church in Menlo Park. Arrangements were under the direction of the Menlo Park Chapel of Spangler Mortuaries.

Dr. Gerald Edward Cahalan
Retired dentist

Dr. Gerald Edward Cahalan, a retired dentist, died at his home in Atherton July 14. He was 81.

One of eight children, he was born in Harpers Ferry, Iowa. He graduated from the University of Iowa in 1946 and moved to Palo Alto, where he established his private dental practice.

During the Korean War, he temporarily relocated to Kansas, where he served as a captain in the U.S. Army. Upon his return, he and his brother Joseph developed one of the first medical office complexes on Stanford University property.

Dr. Cahalan retired in 1985. He enjoyed traveling, gardening, entertaining friends and giving his grandchildren rides on his Cagney steam train, his family said.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Eleanor Donahue, to whom he was married 49 years. He is survived by his wife, Mary Ruder Cahalan; children Michael, Marlana, Barbara Zaro, Margaret Skinner, John, James, Monica Dyer and William; stepchildren Ed Ruder, Phil Ruder, Megan Martinelli, Joe Ruder and Gun Ruder; siblings Dr. Leo Cahalan of Logansport, Indiana, Dr. Joseph Cahalan of Menlo Park, and Rose Stevens of Turlock; and numerous grandchildren.

A celebration of his life was held at St. Pius Church in Redwood City. In lieu of flowers, the family prefers memorial contributions be made to St. Anthony's Padua Dining Room in Menlo Park, St. Vincent dePaul or Pathways Hospice Foundation in Mountain View. Arrangements were by Spangler Mortuary.

Margaret Sloss "Peggy" Lowe
Longtime Woodside resident

Margaret Sloss Lowe -- she liked to be called Peggy -- died peacefully in Oakland June 26, just short of what would have been her 65th wedding anniversary to the late William L. Lowe, the first mayor of Woodside. She was 84.

For 45 years, Mrs. Lowe and her family were active in the Woodside community She was known for flower arranging, and enjoyed tennis until illness set in last year. A lot of families were close, recalls her daughter, Ellie Kinczel of Oakland. "The kids were friends and are friends to this day. It was a great place to grow up."

A fourth generation San Franciscan, Mrs. Lowe was descended from Marcus Koshland and Louis Sloss. She grew up in San Francisco, and attended Miss Burke's school and Smith College. She married Mr. Lowe, a fifth-generation San Franciscan in 1939.

The Lowes raised three children in a house originally designed by Gardner Dailey on Albion Avenue in Woodside, on the estate of Mr. Lowe's father. In 1985, they moved to a townhouse in Redwood City near Canada College. After Mr. Lowe's death in 2000, Mrs. Low moved to The Sequoias in Portola Valley.

A member of the Woodside-Atherton Garden Club, Mrs. Lowe won awards for flower-arranging, and was a judge for the garden club. "She did spectacular flower arrangements," recalls longtime friend Ellie Wood. "She did the kind of modernistic things that are popular now."

Mrs. Lowe volunteered widely. She served as board chairman of the Children's Hospital at Stanford, was a member of several committees of the San Francisco Symphony, and helped at the Redwood City and Woodside libraries. "She was very well organized, very precise, very artistic -- a marvelous hostess and a prime cook," says old Woodside friend, Kip Pond.

The Lowes enjoyed summers with family and friends at the house they built at Glenbrook, Lake Tahoe. A more recent high point was celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in Carmel with the entire family.

Mrs. Lowe is survived by a brother, Louis Sloss, of Forestville; a son, David Lowe, of Port Townsend, Washington; two daughters, Ellie Kinczel of Oakland, and Jean Lowe of Paso Robles; six granchildren; and five great-granchildren.

At Mrs. Lowe's wish, no services are being held. The family suggests donations to the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, the San Francisco Symphony, or a charity of the donor's choice.

Maurine Johanna Houck
Pilot, poker champion, jewelry buyer

Maurine Johanna Houck, a Menlo Park resident of 39 years, died July 9.

Ms. Houck was born in Denver, Colorado, and was a model when she met Air Force Lieutenant Warren Houck. They married in 1950 and lived in San Francisco, Germany, Sacramento and Alaska, before settling in Menlo Park in 1965.

Her hobbies were varied and dynamic and included piloting, poker playing, acting, traveling, volunteering and painting.

She began piloting in 1979, and as a long-time member of Santa Clara County 99's -- an organization whose first president was Amelia Earhart -- won numerous flying competitions.

She was a poker player for more than 25 years and once won second in the world's largest women-only poker tournament.

Ms. Houck was also an actress, with roles in numerous movie and television productions, including a role in Carl Reiner's 1990 film "Sibling Rivalry" that starred Kirstie Alley.

Another of Ms. Houck's passion was art. She worked for 17 years as a jewelry buyer for Xanadu Galleries, located in Menlo Park and San Francisco. She was an expert on Native American jewelry and artifacts, and was well-respected by the Southwest Indian Tribes and trading companies for her fairness and her support of Native American arts, said her family.

Ms. Houck was also a longtime volunteer at the Children's Health Council in Palo Alto.

Her grandfather sang at President Lincoln's state funeral, and her mother was of the Stoecker soda and bottling company, the original inventors of 7-Up, said family members.

She is survived by her husband of 54 years, Warren Houck of Menlo Park; a son, Michael of Eagle, Colorado; two daughters, Kasey and Elizabeth, both of Menlo Park; and nine grandchildren.

Edith Bracco
Menlo Park resident, grocer

Edith Bracco, Menlo Park resident and former co-owner of a grocery store in San Francisco, died July 14 in Menlo Park. A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 20, at Our Lady of the Wayside Church at 930 Portola Road in Portola Valley. Ms. Bracco was 95.

With her late husband Archie, Ms. Bracco owned and operated the Sutro Market in San Francisco for 46 years, relatives said.

Ms. Bracco is survived by her son Robert of Woodside.

Following the memorial Mass, Ms. Bracco will be interred at the Gate of Heaven cemetery in Los Altos, with arrangements by Redwood Chapel.

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