Town volunteer, mentor Marilyn Walter dies | July 18, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


Community - July 18, 2018

Town volunteer, mentor Marilyn Walter dies

by Dave Boyce

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 Walter 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 Portola Valley 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.

A native of Tacoma, Washington, Walter 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. They then lived in Seattle and Montreal, moving to Portola Valley in 1968. 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 in 1976, 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 was 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 and Andrew Walter of Carmel, and Matthew Walter of San Francisco, as well as three 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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