Military tank collector dies at 59

Jacques Littlefield was a longtime resident of Portola Valley

Jacques Mequet Littlefield, who assembled one of the largest private collections of military vehicles in the world and championed open space on the Midpeninsula, died Jan. 7 in Portola Valley. Mr. Littlefield was 59 and had battled cancer for the past decade.

Mr. Littlefield's fascination with armored vehicles began in his childhood when he started building plastic models of tanks. While in college, he built his first scale model, radio-controlled tank. He acquired his first full-sized vehicle in 1975.

In 1998 he set up the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation to manage his collection of more than 150 vehicles and restore new additions. The collection ranges from a World War II-era U.S. Army M3A1 wheeled scout car, his first acquisition, to a Soviet-era Scud missile launcher. It includes famous tanks such as the U.S. Sherman and Patton class; the U.K. Centurion, Conqueror and Chieftain; German World War II vehicles, including a Panther; and Soviet-era Russian tanks.

He was considered a scholar and expert on the history of armored warfare, and the foundation helps serve the interests of authors, historians, educators, the defense industry, veterans groups, model makers and the entertainment industry, say family members.

Mr. Littlefield's collection is housed at Pony Tracks Ranch in the hills above Portola Valley. Pony Tracks was the country estate of former San Francisco mayor and California governor James "Sunny Jim" Rolph Jr. Over the years, Mr. Littlefield restored many of the old buildings on the ranch, helping maintain open space in the hills above Portola Valley.

The son of the late Edmund Wattis Littlefield and Jeannik Mequet Littlefield, he was born in San Francisco in 1949. His father was CEO of Utah International. His mother is a strong supporter of the arts and a member of the Chairman's Council of the San Francisco Opera.

Growing up in Burlingame, Mr. Littlefield attended Cate School in Carpinteria before studying at Stanford University, where he received his bachelor's degree in 1971 and an MBA two years later. He worked for Hewlett Packard as a manufacturing engineer before focusing solely on building his museum and restoration facility.

A man of many interests, Mr. Littlefield was an organist who studied under Stanford University organist Professor Herbert Nanney. A large (45-stop) Fisk organ is housed in a custom-built hall attached to the Littlefield home.

He was also a steam railroad fan, and had rail lines for a large-scale model railroad installed at his 470-acre ranch.

Mr. Littlefield served on the boards of the George S. Patton Museum in Fort Knox, Kentucky, Cate School, Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education, the Hoover Institution, California Academy of Sciences, and Filoli Center. He was a member of the Bohemian Club and captain of the Sempervirens Camp.

Surviving Mr. Littlefield are his wife, Sandy Montenegro Littlefield; his five children, David, Scott, Allison, Jacques Jr. and Jeannik; his mother, Jeannik Mequet Littlefield; brother Edmund Littlefield Jr. and sister Denise Littlefield Sobel; and one grandson.

A public memorial service will be scheduled for the near future. Memorials may be made to one of the organizations Mr. Littlefield supported: The Patton Museum, Cate School, Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education, California Academy of Sciences, the Hoover Institution, or the Filoli Center.

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Like this comment
Posted by Rob Cummins
a resident of another community
on Jan 16, 2009 at 7:52 pm

Mr Littlefield will be sorely missed. His passion was infectious and the lives he touched in a positive way is in the millions.

Like this comment
Posted by Liz Ditz
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 21, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Jacques Littlefield's Memorial Service Monday, March 2, 4 pm

The family very much would like anyone who was touched by Jacques' life and work to attend the service. Please feel free to share this information with your friends and anyone else who may be interested in attending.

The service will take place in Memorial Church, Stanford University. There will be a reception on campus following the service.

Dave Harrah, Jacques' friend since high school, will speak about Jacques' life up until Stanford. Jim Adams, emeritus professor of mechanical engineering, will speak about Jacques as a collector, scholar, and engineer. Jacques' five children will speak about Jacques as a father.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation (MVTF), P.O. Box 7390 Menlo Park CA 94026, email, or one of the other organizations Jacques supported: The Patton Museum, Cate School, the Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education, the California Academy of Sciences, the Hoover Institution or the Filoli Center.

Liz Ditz
Outreach Director, Military Vehicle Technology Foundation (MVTF)

MVTF website:
Web Link

MVTF mailing address:
P.O. Box 7390
Menlo Park, CA 94026

Email addresses:

To make arrangements for tours:

To arrange access to the collection for commercial purposes:

For any other issues:

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