Atherton praises Phil Lively's civic contributions

Services Saturday for community leader who died June 12

Many involved in Atherton civic activities say the town would not be the place it is without the contributions of Philip Lively, who died June 12 at the age of 86 from complications from a recent stroke.

Services for Mr. Lively, who was the chair of Atherton's Planning Commission at the time of his death and involved in many other community activities, are on Saturday, June 20, at 3 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church, 330 Ravenswood Drive in Menlo Park, with a reception following.

Mr. Lively first joined the Planning Commission in May 1996, according to Atherton planner Lisa Costa Sanders, who began working for the town in 1997.

"I worked with Phil for a long time," she said. "I think Phil really loved this community," she added. Mr. Lively "wanted to protect the town, he wanted to protect the general plan."

One of Mr. Lively's skills, she said, was being "very practical, pragmatic -- he was able to see both sides." He was skilled at getting two disparate sides together, she said. "He tried to find amicable solutions."

Mr. Lively also valued individuals and their rights, she said, but believed in protecting neighbors. "Enjoy your own property, but respect your neighbors," was his philosophy, Ms. Costa Sanders said.

Mr. Lively was also so dedicated to seeking out the truth that he was known to do his own research on an issue, Ms. Costa Sanders said. "Sometimes he did his own traffic counts."

He also worked to orient new commissioners, "kind of showed them the ropes," she said. "They really looked up to him for that."

Rose Hau was one of those new commissioners more than 15 years ago. "Without a doubt, he was instrumental in helping me shape my town views," Ms. Hau said; he advocated for "preserving those qualities that make this town a desirable place to live."

Ms. Hau said she served on many other town committees with Mr. Lively, who was on the General Plan Committee, the Rail Committee, the Town Center Task Force and the Civic Center Advisory Committee; he was also involved more than once with getting the town's parcel tax approved by voters.

"I often sought out his level-headed advice, as his opinions mattered to me," Ms. Hau said.

"He is a shining example of how to live life to the fullest," she said. "He never complained, and rarely turned down requests to help out, both personal and town-related," she said. "But in most cases he did not have to be asked -- he was usually the first to volunteer. You could always count on Phil."

Mayor Rick DeGolia agreed. "Phil was a wonderful, generous human being who made an enormous impact on his family, his friends and the town of Atherton," Mr. DeGolia said. "He was a fabulous mentor, a tremendous friend and a spectacular citizen."

Mr. DeGolia said Mr. Lively did not just attend meetings. "He volunteered for the real work of these committees, engaging in his famous engineering analyses and contributing his ideas," he said.

"Phil was one of those rare human beings who not only is important to the success of the effort in which he is engaged, but who affects everyone that he works with in a positive way that improves the other person's understanding. He will be greatly missed. He is truly irreplaceable," Mr. DeGolia said.

Mr. Lively was also involved in his neighborhood of Lindenwood, where he lived with his wife, Joyce, for 36 years.

Marion Oster, who served on the Lindenwood Homes Association board of directors with Mr. Lively, said he also organized the neighborhood's disaster preparedness program, selecting and organizing caches of tools for each of the districts and providing bags of emergency tools for each of the block coordinators.

"He was a dependable member who would bring his jeep to move chairs, tables or whatever needed to be done," she said, and even ran the raffles at annual meetings. "He was so much more than just a board member," she said, "he was the backbone, and not only will the board miss him but all of Lindenwood will."

Phil Lively was born in Medford, Oregon, in 1928, moving to San Jose when he was 18 months old. "Phil was lucky enough to grow up in the Santa Clara Valley when it was truly the 'Valley of Heart's Delight,'" his family said.

Mr. Lively graduated from Lincoln High School in San Jose and Stanford University, where he received a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering.

He was a licensed professional engineer, who began his career at Food Machinery Corporation (FMC) in San Jose.

In 1979 he went to work for Southern Pacific Transportation Company, where he became the chief mechanical officer. He later became an international transportation industry consultant.

Before moving to Atherton, Mr. Lively served on and chaired the Saratoga Planning Commission.

He was an avid fan of the Stanford football team and, as a season ticket holder, he did not miss a home game for 36 years.

Collecting and rebuilding World War II Willys Jeeps and remote-controlled replica model boats were two other of Mr. Lively's passions.

Mr. Lively is survived by his wife of 63 years, Joyce Lowell Lively, and their three children: David Lively and his wife Tricia; Janet Lively Fall and her husband Tom; and Dr. Daniel Lively, whose wife Sherry passed away on May 25. He is also survived by four grandchildren.

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Like this comment
Posted by Condolences
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 22, 2015 at 11:16 am

Rest in Peace Mr. Lively. Thank you for your service.

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