The family of L.W. "Bill" Lane Jr. released this obituary on Monday, Aug. 2.
AMBASSADOR L. W. "BILL" LANE, JR., AO
Following a brief illness, Bill Lane, 90, died at Stanford Hospital lovingly surrounded by his family. He lived a spirited, active, and generous life to the very end.
Bill was born in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1919. He was student body president and graduated from Palo Alto High School, attended Pomona College and graduated in 1942 from Stanford University, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta fraternity.
He was proud to serve his country as aide to the Commandant, 12th Naval District, and USN Gunnery Officer on a troop ship in the Pacific Theater during WWII.
He also served his country in some capacity in every presidential administration prior to the current one, beginning with President John F. Kennedy. He unselfishly gave much of his time and energy to others and was proud to be an American.
Bill was appointed Ambassador-at-large and Commissioner General for the First International Ocean Exposition in Japan by President Ford 1975-76, and as Ambassador to Australia and Nauru by President Reagan, 1985-89.
In his business profession, he was Co-Chairman of Lane Publishing Co., and Publisher of Sunset Magazine, working alongside his brother, Mel Lane, Publisher of Sunset Books. Bill held many offices in the publishing industry. He represented the Lane family to receive the Publisher-of-the-Year Award from the Magazine Publishers Association in 1974.
He served on many corporate and non-profit boards, including Crown Zellerbach, Breuner Furniture, Interstate Bakeries, Pacific Gas and Electric, Yosemite Park & Curry Co., California Water Service Co., Stanford Graduate School of Business, Hoover Institution, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, The Commonwealth Club of Northern California, the California State Parks Foundation, and the National Parks Conservation Association.
Bill had a long interest in aviation, was a former pilot, a guest passenger on two pioneer international commercial flights, and was one of the first people to sign up for a civilian flight into space. He was a founding member of the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Mateo County.
A life member of the National Park Service's Employees and Alumni Association, Bill spent his early summers as a packer and mountain guide in Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks and was thrilled to have called out, "Let the Fire Fall" from Glacier Point.
As publisher of Sunset Magazine, he extended his environmental ethic to business decisions at a time when taking a stand meant lost advertisers.
Bill has generously given of his time and personal resources to protect and preserve the environment throughout his many years of public service and business leadership. He was deeply aware and concerned about the problem of global climate change and did his best to share his concerns with others.
Bill served on the Secretary of the Interior's Advisory Board and Council on National Parks. He was Chair of the President's National Parks Centennial Commission and served as a member on the Park Service's 75th Anniversary Steering Committee. He received the Secretary of the Interior's Conservation Service Award, the Business/Statesman of the Year Award. In 1993 he was deeply appreciative and honored to receive the Queen's Award of Honorary Officer in the Order of Australia from the Australian Government.
Bill has been recognized for outstanding leadership in both the preservation of the environment and business. A long-time friend and avid supporter of William Penn Mott, Jr., Founder of the California State Parks Foundation, Bill served as a member of the Advisory Council and Board for many years. He was named an honorary State Park Ranger in 1996 and Honorary National Park Ranger in 1999. Bill is one of very few citizens to become both an Honorary National and California State Park Ranger.
His lifelong love of horses led him to be one of the most loyal and longest-term members of the Mounted Patrol of San Mateo County, The Shack Riders, and Los Rancheros Visitadores of Santa Barbara County. He rode into his 80s. He was instrumental in preserving the Stanford Red Barn and the Folger Stable. He is survived by three horses at his home in Portola Valley. In addition, he was also a member of the Bohemian Club and The Pacific Union Club in San Francisco.
In all of his philanthropic, business and government activities, Bill took pride in his volunteer work and encouraged volunteerism for all ages. As a volunteer appointee of Governor Pat Brown, Bill started the campaign to restore The Governor Stanford Mansion in Sacramento -- and continued this campaign while serving Governor Reagan's administration. The Mansion is now a State Park.
With his love of nature, he and his wife, Jean, worked to preserve open space throughout the West, including a conservation easement on their home property in Portola Valley with a view of Windy Hill. Family life was important to Bill and included time together camping in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and trips to National Parks though out the West.
He and Jean eventually built a summer home near Lake Tahoe where family and friends could be near the natural world they loved and enjoyed so much.
He was instrumental in the incorporation of the Town of Portola Valley where he and his wife, Jean, had their home for 54 years. He was elected the first Mayor of Portola Valley, but chose to serve as Vice Mayor because of the demands of business and family, and remained a community leader to the last month of his life.
He was proud of his role in the development of the Portola Valley trail system and was a passionate defender of trail rights. Among his many accomplishments, he was instrumental in the drive to build the new national award-winning "green" Town Center in Portola Valley.
From the Bill Lane Amphitheater at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park to the Ambassador Bill Lane USA Gallery Fellowship at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney, Australia, locations and buildings throughout the world bear witness to Bill Lane's deep concern for the preservation of nature and history.
The Lane Family Hall at Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley is testimony to Bill and Jean's faith and commitment to their church community. As a dedicated Stanford alumnus, Bill was been recognized with the naming of the Lane History Corner and the Bill Lane Center for the American West. In Colonial Williamsburg, which was dear to his heart, stands the Ambassador Bill and Jean Lane Auditorium.
The family and friends wish to remember Bill for his wholehearted giving to everyone he cared for and everything he did; he had an exuberant love of life, whose example we will always treasure and hold dear in our hearts. His was a life well lived and he set the bar high.
He is survived by his wife, Donna Jean Gimbel Lane; three children, Sharon Lane, Robert Lane, Brenda Lane Munks (and her husband, Greg); five grandchildren, Jessica Munks, Cristina Munks, Bryan Munks, Riley Munks, and Keighley Lane; sister-in-law Joan Lane, brother-in-law Homer Harris, brother and sister-in-law Art and Caroline Gimbel; nieces and nephews Julie Lane Gay, Whitney Lane Miller, Arthur Gimbel, Diane Warnock, Dave Harris, William Harris and their spouses and children. He was predeceased by his parents, Larry and Ruth Lane, and his brother, Melvin B. Lane.
For those who wish to honor Bill, the family suggests donations to the Peninsula Open Space Trust, California State Parks Foundation, Yosemite Conservancy and Portola Valley Open Space Acquisition Fund.
A memorial service will be held at some future date.