He was someone, many said, who saw things that needed doing, and quietly got them done.
Mr. Tagg bought his home in Woodside soon after he began working for the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park in 1956. Although he lived on the East Coast from 1962 to 1967, where he studied marine geology at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod, for more than five decades he was deeply involved in the Woodside community.
He served on Woodside's Planning Commission — and half a dozen other town committees — for decades, from the turbulent period of Woodside's early years as a town until he moved to Lake Wildwood two years ago.
He donated blood platelets that could be used to save the lives of children with leukemia more than 760 times. In his 80s, Mr. Tagg rounded up a loose horse about to run onto Woodside Road, and every week served as "muscle" for the Woodside Village Church's rummage sale.
Although his marine geology job required frequent travel, and he had three young children, Mr. Tagg began serving on town committees in 1970. He was appointed to the Planning Commission in 1972, serving until 1988, including five years as chair.
Over the years he also served on the Geologic Hazards Committee; as a founding member of Woodside's History Committee; for 16 years as Woodside's representative for the Mosquito Abatement and Vector Control District; and on ad hoc committees to revise development standards and redesign the town center.
He was also a member of the Woodside Village Church, serving on its Finance Board and helping with rummage sales, working in the electronics room.
Dolores Degnan was a Glens neighbor of the Taggs for many years. She worked with her neighbor on the rummage sale and the History Committee. She said that if he wasn't off on a USGS trip, Mr. Tagg "was always willing to help" with anything.
"The Glens was actually such a neat place to live then," she said. If a neighbor needed a new roof, the other neighbors got together and put on the new roof, and then had a barbecue, she says.
Mr. Tagg began donating blood platelets after finding out in the 1970s that the donations could help to save children with leukemia. Bradley Burton, the donor services director of the Stanford Blood Bank, said Mr. Tagg was a "donation legend" who may have impacted the lives of more than 2,100 patients from his 700 Stanford donations alone. He also made 69 donations to other local blood banks.
In a 2005 Almanac article, Mr. Tagg said, "Donating platelets is what needs to be done, and this is what I do to contribute."
He spent more than an hour at the blood bank as often as every two weeks, waiting while the platelets were extracted from his blood before it was returned to his body.
Mr. Tagg also volunteered several times to accompany donated organs by plane to the hospital where they would be transplanted.
In addition to having a soft spot for children and his community, Mr. Tagg also loved dogs. For many years Mr. Tagg was hardly ever seen anywhere — from his frequent trips to the Woodside Library to the rummage sale — without Minnie, a mixed-breed stray who knew when she ran into him she'd found a companion for the rest of her life.
Mr. Tagg loved research, and spent time researching genealogy, Gold Rush history and historic northern California cemeteries.
Lisha Mainz, who served on the History Committee with Mr. Tagg, says she knew him almost her entire life because she grew up in the Glens neighborhood.
"Everybody in the Glens knew each other back then," she said.
But what she most remembers is the time in 2007 that Mr. Tagg, then in his late 70s, and she were working at the Woodside Community Museum on a Sunday afternoon when they noticed a horse that had broken loose from the hitch rack behind the Pioneer Hotel heading toward Woodside Road. Mr. Tagg "just shot up and started sprinting," she says. He caught up with the big filly "and turned into the horse whisperer," Ms. Mainz says. Once he returned the horse to the nearby hitch rack and tied it back up, he "just walked back like nothing happened," she says.
Bob Meade, who became friends with Mr. Tagg in the 1950s at the USGS, says the incident with the horse "is just the sort of thing that guys like Dick Tagg do."
"He didn't sit around and ask any questions, he just got on with it," he says. They worked on marine geology projects together, including mapping the continental shelf under the Atlantic Ocean.
"That was the greatest thing about being out to sea with him. If it needed doing, it got done," Mr. Meade says.
Mr. Tagg was born in 1928 in Sioux City, Iowa. He delivered newspapers and was an Eagle Scout, working several summers at a Boy Scout camp in the Southwest.
Mr. Tagg attended Iowa State College and spent two years in the Navy. He graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was in the Air Force ROTC, with a bachelor's degree in geology. He was active in the hiking club, climbing all the 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado, and continued hiking with alumni for many years.
While at Woods Hole, he met his wife-to-be, Barbara O'Hara. They adopted their first son, Andrew, and after returning to Woodside they adopted David and Martha.
Mr. Tagg is survived by his wife of more than 53 years, Barbara; their three children and their spouses, David (Michelle) and Martha (Tim), all of Lake Wildwood, and Andrew (Deidre) of Roseville; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions go to the Woodside Village Church, the Woodside Library or the Woodside Community Museum, or that blood donations be made in his name.
A longer version of this story can be seen at AlmanacNews.com.
This story contains 1053 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.