'Rusty' van Bronkhorst dies at 79 | February 29, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



News - February 29, 2012

'Rusty' van Bronkhorst dies at 79

Russella "Rusty" van Bronkhorst, 79, a lifelong resident of the Midpeninsula, died Feb. 20 at Stanford Hospital surrounded by her family. She had lived in Palo Alto, Portola Valley and Menlo Park.

Born in Palo Alto in 1932, she graduated from Palo Alto High School in 1950. She went to work at Hewlett-Packard, serving in the secretarial pool when there were fewer than 100 employees at the company.

It was there that she met her future husband, Ed van Bronkhorst. They were married in 1957 and shared a love and friendship that spanned almost 50 years. He died in March 2006, after which Rusty moved to the Vi senior living community in Palo Alto.

While raising her three sons, she worked as campaign manager for U.S. Representative Pete McCloskey's successful congressional campaigns.

She was a founding investor of Embarcadero Media, the parent company of the Palo Alto Weekly and the Almanac, among other community news operations, and served on the board of directors for 22 years.

Upon her retirement from the board in 2002, the Palo Alto Weekly established an award in her honor, given annually to an employee who exemplifies her belief in hard work, integrity and dedication to serving the community through fair and accurate reporting and ethical business practices.

"Rusty was the first person I turned to for support when starting the Weekly because I knew she shared my belief in the importance of quality local journalism," said Bill Johnson, publisher and founder of the Palo Alto Weekly, president of Embarcadero Media, and a friend from when both worked for Mr. McCloskey in the 1970s.

"She provided much wisdom and support to me and our young staff as we established the paper and tried to figure out how to run a successful business while also serving the community with good journalism," Mr. Johnson said. "She had very high expectations of us, but they were never unrealistic and she always acknowledged the challenges and successes."

She was an accomplished golfer and enjoyed playing bridge and dominoes. She was also an accomplished chef, often hosting elaborate dinner parties at her home in Portola Valley.

She and her husband loved to travel together, and in later years they saw most of the world while on cruise ships, often sailing for months at a time. After his passing, she continued to cruise with the many friends they made from all over the world.

She is survived by her three sons, Kort van Bronkhorst of Napa, Jon van Bronkhorst of Redwood City, and Derek van Bronkhorst of Campbell; and six grandchildren. Her extended family included her longtime helpers and caregivers, Lola Panisi and Leslie Tokahata.

A private family service has been held. The family prefers memorial donations to the Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital.


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