Trish Hooper remembered for her remarkable spirit


If there were flags to symbolize an uncompromising passion for justice, women's rights and democratic values, they should be fluttering defiantly over The Sequoias retirement community in Portola Valley in memory of resident Trish Hooper.

And there might be another flag, apart from the others, for having lived well and compassionately.

Patricia Lowrey Hooper, an articulate former Republican who excoriated the GOP in newspapers for its right-wing shift, a wife and mother of a well-traveled and active family, a memorable presence to those who knew her, and the author of three memoirs died June 3 at the age of 87. She had suffered a brain hemorrhage from a fall a few days earlier and died surrounded by her family.

"I just can't believe that this force of nature is gone," Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, D-Menlo Park, said in a phone interview. "I'm enormously sad about it.

"She could prick the conscience of a community with her thoughts and her pen. She could move an individual with a paragraph," Ms. Eshoo continued. "This is an incredible loss. I don't think there are words to describe it. Things will not be the same again, though she wouldn't like to hear me say that.

"She had a real sense of joie de vivre. She was fascinated by so many things and she was fascinating herself."

Ms. Hooper had been active in the hospice, birth control rights and animal rights communities, including as a board member of Mission Hospice and the Peninsula Humane Society, said Marion Softky, a Sequoias resident and an Almanac senior correspondent.

Humane Society President Ken White, in an interview, called Ms. Hooper's death "a big, big, big loss." He had had lunch with her in Woodside recently to talk about adopting a new dog, he said. "We had our usually fabulous time."

Asked what he would miss about her, Mr. White replied: "Wow. Trish is, was, truly one of the smartest, funniest, most alive people I have ever had the pleasure to know. To be honest, I think that I will miss everything about her. ... She lived her life fully and died suddenly, as she would have wanted."

"If The Sequoias had a key person among the residents, she was it," Ms. Softky said of Ms. Hooper. "This is a real shock and a blow to everybody."

Portola Valley Mayor Steve Toben, citing Ms. Hooper's success in having her opinions published in major media outlets -- a high hurdle -- called her "a great citizen. It's a huge, huge, huge loss."

Ah, Paris!

Growing up, Trish traveled widely and lived in New Jersey, California and Hawaii, according to her family. She attended the Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco, among other schools, and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College.

She married San Francisco attorney John Hooper, whose family had a farm in Woodside.

The couple spent World War II at military posts, and afterward returned to San Francisco, where Mr. Hooper practiced law, relatives said. In 1957, with their four children, they boarded a freighter and moved to Europe after a chance conversation on doing something different, according to "April in Paris," Ms. Hooper's 2003 memoir recalling the various delights of their 10 years of living overseas.

Mr. Hooper, who died in 2007, served in Paris as a diplomat to NATO, which included a presidential appointment as defense adviser. Ms. Hooper complemented her husband's activities with "her fluency in French and keen interest in politics," relatives said.

On returning to Woodside in 1967, the couple "immersed themselves in local issues," relatives said, including helping Paul N. "Pete" McCloskey get started in politics as the Peninsula's congressman. Mr. McCloskey became a son-in-law in 1982 with his marriage to Helen Hooper.

Trish Hooper was an accomplished watercolorist whose paintings helped raise money for causes she loved, including animal welfare, death with dignity, and getting the government out of private decisions such as abortion, relatives said.

Along with writing on national issues, she wrote about staff members at The Sequoias, who "truly loved her democratic spirit," relatives said.

She wore her accomplishments easily. "She did not smoke her own exhaust," Ms. Eshoo said. "I loved every line in her face. Every line in her face meant something. She and John are together now and I have a sense that they have a lot to talk about."

Ms. Hooper is survived by daughters Margo Hooper of Portola Valley and Helen Hooper McCloskey of Rumsey, California; sons John C. Hooper of San Francisco and Lawrence Hooper of Washington state; a sister, Helen Virginia Brown of Honolulu; a brother, Charles F. Lowrey of San Francisco; and five grandchildren.

Details of services were not available at The Almanac's press time.

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2 people like this
Posted by Linda Racine
a resident of another community
on Jun 8, 2010 at 11:34 am

So sad to hear that Trish is gone. She was truly a wonderful woman, who always had other beings interests in her heart. She definitely left this world a better place.

2 people like this
Posted by Dorothy Fadiman
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jun 9, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Trish's great gift to us all was her greet life at any age with a vibrant spirit and a full heart. For so many people, aging equals fading...Trish just continued to sizzle with vitality... she loved creating sparks! Whether they sprang from her political passions or her wicked sense of humor or her caring compassion for the things she loved, there was always a reason for her to be in the moment. Her legacy includes reminding us all to be Present wherever we are.
Dorothy Fadiman
Menlo Oaks

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