Obituaries | March 23, 2011 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - March 23, 2011


These obituaries are based on information provided by families and mortuaries.

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Ralph Charles Kohn

A memorial service will be held Saturday, April 9, for Ralph Charles Kohn, who managed Kepler's bookstore in Menlo Park for about 30 years, from the late 1960s to 1997. He died Feb. 23 at age 93.

The memorial will start at 2 p.m. at the Palo Alto Friends Meeting House, 957 Colorado Ave. in Palo Alto.

Born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1918, to a Methodist mother and a Jewish father, Mr. Kohn was the oldest of three children. He graduated from Cornell College in Iowa.

According to his daughter, Twink Stern, Mr. Kohn detested war and became a conscientious objector during World War II, spending the years working on the East Coast with children who had special needs. There he met lifelong friends Roy Kepler and George Haight, and formed a network of peace activists who spent their later years in California.

Following the war, Mr. Kohn joined the Merchant Marines on a freighter and worked as a ship hand. He traveled to Europe, Africa, and the Far East. This experience had a lasting effect on him, and he savored these years of exposure to people and politics, the family said.

When Roy Kepler asked Mr. Kohn to manage one of two Kepler's bookstores, he jumped at the chance to move to California. His family said he was proud to work in the Menlo Park store, largest paperback bookstore on the West Coast at that time.

He found a home on Cloud Avenue in Menlo Park and enjoyed sharing ideas with locals such as the family of Joan Baez, as well as Ira Sandperl and Nick Simon.

As he managed Kepler's, he became close to the Kepler family and when Roy's son, Clark, became the owner, the two of them became close, the family said.

He and his wife Irene became the keepers of Kepler's traditions, and each summer, hosted a taco party at their home so that former employees of the store could catch up with the extended family of Kepler's people.

He and his wife enjoyed driving all over California and Canada, and to Mexico, the family said. They also traveled to Europe and Vietnam.

Mr. Kohn stopped working at the bookstore after having a stroke in 1997.

The family expressed thanks to caregiver Lya Vale Cruz and Heartland Hospice for their care for Mr. Kohn during his final years.

He is survived by his wife, Irene Myers Stern Kohn; her children, Twink Stern and James Stern; five grandchildren; 14 great-grandchildren; and his youngest sister, Shirley Kohn.

The family prefers donations to "10 Books a Home," which provides free in-home and in-school literacy services to children in East Palo Alto. Donations may be mailed to 1735 Woodland Ave., Suite 11, East Palo Alto, CA 94303; or made online at

Homer Clair (Buzz) Hamlin

A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 26, for Homer Clair (Buzz) Hamlin, a resident of Menlo Park for 44 years, who died March 9.

The service will start at 3 p.m. at St. Bede's Episcopal Church, 2650 Sand Hill Road in Menlo Park.

A member of a third generation of an early San Jose and Morgan Hill family, he entered Stanford on a football scholarship in the fall of 1940. He played two years as a fullback until Dec. 7, 1941.

He left school to enter the Army Air Corps and was commissioned as second lieutenant. As a pilot, he was assigned to the 8th Army Air Corps 96th Bomber Group, 413th Squadron, flying B17s from Snetterton Heath in England.

He flew 23 missions over Germany and was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. At the end of combat operations, he flew more missions delivering foodstuffs in Belgium for people who were isolated.

Returning to the states, he completed his education at the University of California at Berkley, graduating in 1947. Football was his passion. He played two seasons for Cal. By playing for intense rivals Stanford and Cal, he joined just two other men known to have played for both schools, family members said.

After college he went to work for Fiberboard Paper Products, working in Los Angeles, San Jose, and then Seattle as general manager for the Northwest region. He returned to San Francisco as national sales manager for Fiberboard. He finished his career with Owen Illinois, retiring in 1985.

He was an active outdoors person who loved golf and belonged to the California Country Club. When Fiberboard developed Northstar-at-Tahoe, he was the first person to purchase a condo so he could ski more often, which he did past his 80th birthday, family members said.

Janet Anthes, his wife of 64 years, preceded him in death as did his daughter, Wendy Schreiner. He is survived by his children Christine and Jonathan; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

The family prefers donations to Pathway Foundation (Hospice), 585 North Mary Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94085. Arrangements were by Darling Fischer Chapel of the Hills in Los Gatos.

Anne Brown O'Donnell

Friends and family are invited to a memorial Mass on Friday, March 25, for Anne Brown O'Donnell of Atherton, who died March 11. She was 88.

The Mass begins at 11 a.m. at St. Raymond Catholic Church, 1100 Santa Cruz Ave. in Menlo Park. A private committal will take place at Holy Cross Cemetery in Menlo Park before the Mass.

Born in Los Angeles, she attended Marymount High School in that city, spent a year at Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York, and then enrolled at USC. She left school for two years to support the home front effort during World War II, working at Lockheed Aircraft and volunteering more than 500 hours at the American Red Cross.

She returned to USC and graduated with a degree in art history in 1944.

She worked for a number of years at Bullocks Wilshire in Los Angeles before marrying Hugh O'Donnell of San Francisco in 1955. They lived first in San Francisco and then down the Peninsula where they raised their family. They were married for 54 years. Hugh died on July 24, 2010.

Anne spent many years as a volunteer for the CYO, the Oakwood Auxiliary, the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary for the Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, the Family Service Agency of San Mateo County, the San Carlos Adult Day Care Center, and several other organizations.

She gave her time to the Order of Malta and attended a number of Lourdes Pilgrimages with the Sick and Dying.

She enjoyed oil painting, and loved hosting friends at her home in Atherton, the family says.

In the 1980s, "she turned a two-year stay with Hugh in Santiago, Chile, into an adventure by making many new friends, and converting a nice rental house into a beautiful, warm home away from home for locals and travelers alike," the family says.

She and Hugh took every chance they could to travel, more often than not bringing their children along.

She is survived by her sons, Michael of Menlo Park and Peter of Palo Alto; and four grandchildren.

The family expressed thanks to the staff of Nazareth Classic Care in Menlo Park where she lived with Hugh for the last three years.

The family asks that any memorial donations be made to San Carlos Adult Day Services, care of Catholic Charities-CYO, 180 Howard St., Suite 100, San Francisco, CA 94105; or Religious of the Sacred Heart-Oakwood, 140 Valparaiso Ave., Atherton, CA 94027; or a charity of the donor's choice.


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