Portola Valley: Mentor and volunteer Marilyn Walter dies at 92


A memorial service for Marilyn Janet Walter, a longtime resident of Portola Valley and for many years a member of the town's Conservation Committee, is set for 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 19, at Christ Church at 815 Portola Road in Portola Valley.

Walter died on May 29 at the age of 92. Her granddaughter Christianne said her grandmother lived her life in accord with the precept "The charm of life is in its living," guidance she is said to have remembered from high school. "Throughout all her adventures, she lived each day the best way she knew how," her granddaughter said.

"She was a real mentor for me," said Danna Breen, a resident and also a volunteer in town government. "Such an elegant, poised person, with a strong presence. Kind of impeccable. She just presented fabulously."

Breen recalled Walter attending a Town Council meeting on a day that happened to be her 80th birthday, and the council celebrating by singing to her. The council adjourned its meeting on Wednesday, July 11, with a brief tribute to Walter.

Walter was a native of Tacoma, Washington, and graduated from Annie Wright Seminary high school in Tacoma and from Barnard College in New York City.

She met and married Carroll Harding Walter, and the couple spent 11 years in and around South America - including time in Panama, Peru, Brazil, Argentina and Chile - then Seattle and Montreal. They had a summer home in Lakebay, Washington, near Tacoma. The couple had three sons.

Walter enjoyed being outdoors and "hiked her way across the continents," Christianne Walter said. Her grandmother cared deeply about education, she said, and "quietly helped promising youth with their schooling both in the U.S. and during her time in South America."

Upon the opening in town of the environmentally conscious residential community of Portola Valley Ranch, Walter moved in as the first resident and acted as the community's sales agent, welcoming committee and trail guardian, her granddaughter said.

Dieter Walz, a member of the Conservation Committee since its launch some 50 years ago, said he remembers Walter as "really open-minded," thoughtful, nonconfrontational and someone who took the long view on issues.

"She was a kind and very contributing member," and particularly aware of the importance of the town's tree canopy, Walz said.

Walter was preceded in death by her husband, and her brother John Joseph Muckey. She is survived by her sons Jeffrey Walter of Carmel, Matthew Walter of San Francisco, and Andrew Walter of Carmel, as well as four grandchildren.

The family asks that donations in Walter's memory be made to the Peninsula Open Space Trust at 222 High St. in Palo Alto, 94301.


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Dave Boyce


5 people like this
Posted by Cindie White
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Jul 12, 2018 at 12:42 pm

My heart is heavy to know that Marilyn, a wise, vibrant elder has crossed. She touched my life deeply and uplifted me in many ways. I have emails from her I will keep forever and memories that will always be with me. She left behind a magnificent imprint and we are all better for it.

Like this comment
Posted by Debbie Mytels
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2018 at 4:07 pm

Marilyn Walter was a very gracious person and a true lover of the natural environment. I remember meeting her at a number of events held at the Peninsula Conservation Center (now called Acterra). She was an advocate for preserving the natural habitats in our creeks, oak woodlands, and at the Bay. She was always thoughtful and friendly, and it's nice to see such a nice tribute to such a caring, thoughtful person. She will be missed by many.

1 person likes this
Posted by PVR Neighbor
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on Jul 12, 2018 at 8:33 pm

Marilyn was a legend here in the PV Ranch, and such an interesting woman. I ran into her at a board meeting recently, just a week or so before her passing, and she was as sharp in mind and perfectly dressed as ever. Between she and Shelly Breiner, we had a very amusing and wide-ranging conversation after the meeting was over. She will be missed.

Like this comment
Posted by Danna Breen
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 13, 2018 at 7:18 pm

Gutted, she was a mentor mother to me,,,she chastised me iif I was too reactive and praised me when I lent a hand. I learned so much. She was exquisite. I served on the conservation committee with her for 12 years, but knew her for forty or more, what a babe.. she will be missed big time,

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