Miscellaneous Marin County, California Obituaries - 1996

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Nina Wynne Furth
A summer resident of Inverness, Nina Wynne Furth of Monarch Beach, Orange county, died Sept. 30 at the age of 75. 
She is survived by her husband Gordon, her daughter and son-in-law Wynne Furth and Donald Brenneis of Claremont, her daughter Amy Furth of New York City, her grandchildren Valance Elisabeth Furth Brenneis, Frank Forrester Church V, and Nina Wynne Church. 
A graduate of UC Berkeley, member of Prytanean Society, and former member of the boards of directors of the University YWCA and the University Art Museum in Berkeley, she was also a member of the Inverness Ridge Association. 
Remembrances may be made to the University YWCA, 2600 Bancroft Way, Berkeley 94704 or to the Inverness Garden Club scholarship fund. 

Grace Louise Cunningham
Inverness resident Grace Louise Cunningham died at her home in Inverness Sept. 13 at the age of 86. 
As a young woman, Mrs. Cunningham was considered quite daring by her family, daughter Arlene Tinsley of Inverness told The Light this week. In 1935, a young Mrs. Cunningham and husband Lewis Bernard Cunningham, packed up and left their home in St. Louis and headed off to "wild California," settling in Los Angeles. 
A St. Louis native and the ninth of 14 children (one boy and 13 girls), she reared two children in Los Angeles where her husband worked as a tool and die maker. 
After her husband's death, Mrs. Cunningham worked as a librarian at Occidental College. While in Inverness for seven years, she loved to work in the garden and in the yard. "She loved children and flowers," Ms. Tinsley said. 
Besides her daughter Arlene, and grandson Joshua Tinsley of Inverness, Mrs. Cunningham is survived by son Lewis Bernard Cunningham of Ventura and his son; and sisters Dorothy Daman and Leona Daman, both of St. Louis. 

Alice Rodgers
Inverness Park resident Alice Rodgers, 54, died of heart-related problems Sept. 25 at her home. 
Born in San Francisco, Ms. Rodgers was reared in Marin and graduated from San Rafael High where her interests included 1950s-style dancing, said her mother, Gladys King of San Rafael. 
"Whenever the kids would have a party and it was getting dull, [Alice] would get in there and make it lively," Mrs. King said. "She was the life of the party." 
Ms. Rodgers worked as a nurse's aide at a convalescent home and as a teacher's aide. 
She also was a 23-year companion of retired Point Reyes National Seashore worker Cecil Sanchez, 66. 
Ms. Rodgers, who had no children of her own, cared for youngsters at the couple's Inverness Park home. "Now they're all grown up and have children of their own," Sanchez said. 
The couple together enjoyed movies, shopping, and the Western Weekend parade, Sanchez said. During the Inverness Ridge fire last year, they were evacuated from the old Pine Crest Dairy ranch where Sanchez still resides as caretaker. 
"She was the one who named my horse Cody," he said. "She'd try to ride Cody, but he's a pretty strong horse." 
Ms. Rodgers' health declined after open-heart surgery two years ago, noted friend Deborah Osborn of Point Reyes Station. She had trouble getting around but enjoyed watching soap operas on television. 
"Out of all her illness and pain, her sense of humor and laughter came through," Ms. Osborn said. "She was a good spirit, always positive." 
In addition to Sanchez, Ms. Rodgers is survived by parents Gladys and Warren King of San Rafael; father RJ Rodgers of Georgia; brothers Eddie Rodgers of Fairfax and Jordon Rodgers of Novato; sister Millie Fratti of San Rafael; and seven nieces and nephews. 
Friends and family have invited all who knew Ms. Rogers to join in a memorial "celebration of her life" beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, at 10 Drake Summit Rd. Guests have been encouraged to bring a dish to share.

Clayton Lewis
Artist and fisherman Clayton Lewis, a 31-year resident of Laird's Landing on Tomales Bay, died at home last Friday night of cancer. He was 80. 
"His family was gathered around him" at 11:30 p.m. when he closed his eyes for the last time, said his son Peter Lewis this week. "It was a really beautiful thing. He died very peacefully." 
Friends of Mr. Lewis have been invited to celebrate his life with a potluck memorial at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 24, at Laird's Landing. Those interested have been asked to carpool and park at the top of the dirt road or arrive by boat. 
Although many West Marin residents knew Lewis as "the old man of the sea" who fished and boated on Tomales Bay for three decades, his son said, his greatest love was art.
Furniture designer
Mr. Lewis won international acclaim for his furniture designs, sculptures, and drawings. And his jewelry is in the permanent collections of New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum. 
The furniture designs of Mr. Lewis' defunct furniture company, Claywood Design, were featured in magazines such as Fortune, Life, and Architectural Forum. 
"That put us on the big market," Mr. Lewis said last week in an interview with The Light at Laird's Landing. "[It was] a Horatio Alger story -- people love it." 
Nonetheless, Mr. Lewis turned his back on financial success. He preferred instead to pursue a tranquil life of art and wilderness, and he found success in his relationships with a vast network of close friends. 
"We will appreciate the loss when we look around for Clayton at the bakery and he's not there," said his friend Richard Kirschman of Dogtown this week.
'Never sold out'
"Clayton rejected all temptations to cross the line into the world of fluff and hollow promotion," Kirschman said. "He never sold out. I admired him so much for that. He had less tolerance for compromise than anybody." 
He gave his children a "rich, full life" loaded with Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, classical and ethnic music, and art, said his son Peter. "He used to sing to us when we were kids. My father was extremely poetic." 
Friend Marianne Wiener added, "If there was such a thing as a real gentleman, it was Clayton. He was extremely considerate in all kinds of relations." 
Born on March 15, 1915, Mr. Lewis grew up in the rural logging town of Snoqualmie Falls, Washington, about 20 miles east of Seattle. 
At the time, Snoqualmie Falls was home to 200 people who were "back-country folk, provincial to say the least," Mr. Lewis recalled a week ago, adding that many residents "drank beer for exercise...
Art wasn't 'manly'
"An artist was something you spelled with quotation marks and it was something in Paris," he said. "I was a foreigner. Until I grew up to 20 or 25 years old, I felt alienated. It was very confining. [Being an artist] wasn't a manly thing to expose." 
Mr. Lewis described his father Charles as a large "square-rigged sailor who ran away to sea when he was 10 years old" but later settled down to become a hydraulic engineer for the town's power plant. 
He said his father was a "well-meaning man" who nonetheless ruled his home with a iron hand. 
"My sexual education was conducted by my father," Mr. Lewis recalled. "He said to me, 'If you go and get any of these girls around here pregnant, I'm going to take you out in the backyard and blow your head off with a shotgun.' 
"How would you like that at 13 years old?"
Moved to Sausalito
In the late 1930s, Mr. Lewis left Snoqualmie Falls to study at the California Institute of Fine Arts in Sausalito. He later married Virginia Harding, fathered four children, and settled in Eugene, Oregon, where he became a furniture designer by accident. 
Mr. Lewis told The Light that he bought a small plot of land from the City of Eugene during World War II, but the family had no money to build a house. 
He hauled 8,000 feet of lumber home from the local mill's reject pile, and "whittled on it," Mr. Lewis said. With that lumber, he built a house and all his furniture. 
"The neighbors were entranced, so they said, 'Make me some,'" he recalled. "So we made some for them, and in a matter of a year, we'd formed a corporation [Claywood Design], and we had a furniture factory going in an old barn up there." 
A self-described "lousy businessman," Mr. Lewis didn't fare well with Claywood Designs over the long haul. The company went under, and Mr. Lewis was hospitalized with osteoporosis, a bone disease that had previously afflicted him in his teens.
Administered factory
However, while in the hospital, Mr. Lewis got a phone all from DJ Dupree, the head of Michigan's thriving Herman Miller Furniture Company. Dupree asked him to run the company's new factory in Venice, Los Angeles County. 
While he was in Venice, Mr. Lewis worked with acclaimed furniture designers Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi, and George Nelson. 
And the company prospered. The Venice factory had started in 1950 with five employees. By 1953 when Mr. Lewis left, there were two factories and 85 employees. 
Although he "made a lot of money," Mr. Lewis was disenchanted with being an administrator. He wanted to create. 
"[Being an artist is] a disease," Mr. Lewis said. "A disease is something you can't control; it controls you. 
"You're moved by inspiration. You're moved by the disease. You're moved by the idea of recreating the world in an image which you prefer to think of as -- maybe not preferable -- but variable."
Living poor
So he returned north and worked in various art studios he started in Mill Valley, Sausalito, and Sebastopol. 
Having trouble paying the bills, he and his wife Virginia split up. Mr. Lewis moved to Nevada City, Nevada County, where he taught art and performed other odd jobs. 
But money problems persisted, and Mr. Lewis' brother-in-law had him thrown in jail for failing to pay child support. 
"Up there you were lucky if you got a job that paid you $2.25 an hour," he recalled. "I worked for a lot of time cleaning out bars after two o'clock in the morning for $2.50 for the whole goddamn job." 
However, Tomales Bay changed Mr. Lewis' life in 1964. He and his companion Judy Perlman and her infant son Marcos on the Fourth of July paid a visit to one of Mr. Lewis' friends, former Marshall resident Alex Crighton.
Miwok Indian homes
After spending much of the day sailing on the bay, they stopped at Laird's Landing. Lewis looked around at the lush wildlife and the three dilapidated structures on the beach and said, "Jesus, look at that," he recalled. 
He contacted the owner of the property, the late Murray Richards, and offered to fix up the buildings, which had been built by Miwok Indians sometime around 1830, for $5 an hour and the privilege to live there. Richards agreed. 
Over the years living at Laird's Landing, Mr. Lewis renovated the buildings, built himself an art studio and a foundry, made jewelry which he sold by mail and on trips, and he fished with his seining net. 
"It was a nice, wild place to be," Mr. Lewis said. "If you live in a place for a long time -- and I consider 30 years a long time -- you fall in love with it."
Park Service hassles
However, Mr. Lewis' stay on the bay was not without its hassles. When the Park Service bought Richards' property in 1971, officials gave Mr. Lewis 90 days to get off the land. 
However, Lewis successfully argued that since he had built an art studio and therefore owned it, the Park Service was obliged to buy it or allow him to stay. 
Mr. Lewis remained devoted to his mother Rosie throughout her life, and when she became ill in the 1970s, she asked him to move back to Washington and live with her. 
Not wanting to leave Tomales Bay, Mr. Lewis instead wrote letters to her daily and illustrated the envelopes. After a while, the drawings became so elaborate and colorful that in 1983 they found their way into an exhibit of the California Historical Society.
Kudos in France
The French also loved Mr. Lewis' envelope art. It was featured in the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur and shown in Paris' Caroline Corre Gallery. The French Postal Service even bought some. 
In his last few weeks, Lewis dedicated all his time to helping organize the Clayton Lewis Foundation -- Art and Sciences on Tomales Bay, a nonprofit that his friends and family hope will provide educational tours on the bay. 
Those interested can make donations to the foundation at the Bank of Petaluma in Point Reyes Station. 
Mr. Lewis is survived by his children Susannah Lewis and Thomas Harding Lewis, both of Seattle; Katherine Rose Lewis of Kingston, Washington; and Peter Scott Lewis of San Francisco; his grandchildren Michael Thomas Rosen of Los Angeles and Anja McElvaney of New York; his wife Jonne Lemieux of Inverness; and his stepchildren CC Lemieux of Inverness, Jason Lemieux of Colorado, and Adam Lemieux of Hawaii. 

Megan Mery
Former Inverness postmaster Megan Mery, a longtime West Marin resident and volunteer for various environmental and community organizations, died in her Inverness home on Jan. 30. She was 80. 
A memorial service will be held from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 16, at the Dance Palace. Some of her relatives will travel from various points across the country to take part in the services. 
 "She and I were very good friends," said son Michael Mery of Point Reyes Station this week. "My mother had a very funny, trenchant wit. [She was] a wonderful conversationalist - very smart. 
"I miss her very much," he said. "She was a good lady." 
Born Megan Rees in 1915, she emigrated with her family from Wales three years later as her father sought to escape a future in the coal mines. 
Old Inverness family
The family settled in Chico, Butte County. Mrs. Mery spent most of her youth there, married her late husband Larry Mery in 1935, and a year later moved to Inverness, where Mr. Mery's family had owned property since the turn of the century. 
The Mery family at one time owned the old Inverness Store, which was located across the street from the current Inverness Store. 
Mr. Mery served as Inverness postmaster from 1936 to 1966, with his wife assisting as clerk starting in 1948. Mrs. Mery took over her husband's job when he retired and she kept it until 1972. 
Mrs. Mery was remembered this week by friends and family as passionate for books and music, and as a person who took her social life very seriously. 
In retirement, Mrs. Mery volunteered her time performing office work for the Marin Conservation League and the Tomales Bay Library Association. 
She was also a member of the Environmental Action Committee of West Marin, the Tomales Bay Association, and the Inverness Association. 
Opera lover
"My mother had long-term, deeply held environmental interests," her son said. "All the librarians out here knew her. [She was] very literate. She'd have three to four to five books out at once. She loved opera, particularly the Italians. She loved the tenors." 
Point Reyes Station writer Philip Fradkin noted this week that Mrs. Mery was a skilled matchmaker. It was she who brought Fradkin and his wife Dianne together a decade ago. 
"I was invited to a fatal dinner party at Megan's house on Sept. 12, 1985," Fradkin recalled. "It was not fatal in the sense that I was going to die.... 
"[Megan] was very sly about it. She wouldn't tell me who was going to be there." 
Fradkin said another would-be matchmaker had been simultaneously trying to get Dianne together with someone else, but fortunately for Fradkin, "Megan was very competitive." 
Quit while ahead
He added that an Inverness resident then asked Mrs. Mery to make another match, but she declined. "She was batting one thousand, and she was going to keep her batting average perfect," Fradkin said. 
An expert at crossword puzzles and devoted player of board games, Mrs. Mery several times a week played backgammon with the late John Ritter, who owned the old Inverness Coffee Shop. 
The two were "intense backgammon players," her son said, "very intense, do-not-interupt-them intense." 
Inverness resident Kay Holbrook, who knew Mrs. Mery for 60 years, remembered her friend as "a very, very pretty, vivacious young woman. She was so much fun to be with. She developed many friendships that she held onto over the years." 
Volunteer work
Her unpaid service for the Marin Conservation League spanned some 20 years, Holbrook said, and was the result of Mrs. Mery feeling "so strongly about Marin County. She wanted to help within her abilities." 
Point Reyes Station graphic designer Bill Barrett this week called Mrs. Mery one of his closest friends: "We shared many interests in common: local history, good food, hot gossip." 
Throughout their 16-year friendship, Barrett said, "we would get together and swap stories over thousands of lunches and morning coffees and quite a few dinners... 
"She kept a lifetime of memories in her head, and I never got tired of hearing them. I will miss her deeply." 
Mrs. Mery is survived by son Michael of Point Reyes Station; daughter Megan Ryan of Brooklyn, New York; grandchildren Trevor Mery of Santa Rosa, and Kate and Evan Ryan of Brooklyn; great-granddaughter Laura Judd of San Jose; sisters Gwyneth McGee and Mair Wasney of Chico; and numerous nieces and nephews. 
In lieu of flowers the Mrs. Mery's family has requested that donations be made to West Marin Senior Services, Marin Conservation League, or Tomales Bay Library Association.

Kendrick Price
Point Reyes handyman dies of heart attack By David Rolland
Point Reyes Station resident Kendrick Price, a skilled handyman with a scholarly interest in spirituality and religion, died Saturday morning after suffering a heart attack at the Point Reyes Clinic on Friday. He was 65. 
"He was a unique, private man," said daughter Rebeca Davis of Oakland this week. "He was generous with himself, and he wouldn't ask much of others. He was very gifted." 
Mr. Price worked as a carpenter, builder, and repairman for West Marin residents since he arrived in Point Reyes Station in 1981, and was also known as an amateur psychotherapist. Other residents will remember him as the first customer at the breakfast counter almost every morning at the Station House Cafe, and his penchant for romance novels. 
Fixed everything
"He could fix your lawnmower, your toaster, or your head," said friend Joan Zeleny of Petaluma. "He was a person you'd like to know." 
Added daughter Davis, "He was probably more qualified as a psychotherapist than most psychotherapists. He was an engineer, but he didn't have an engineering degree." 
Born on New Year's Day, 1931, in San Francisco, Mr. Price spent much of his childhood in Washington state before graduating from Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley. 
He joined the Coast Guard in 1950 and worked on various ships as an explosives loading supervisor. He was stationed at times in San Francisco and New Jersey and received an honorable discharge in 1953. 
Possessing a strong desire to teach, Mr. Price applied for a teaching credential at San Francisco State University. 
Tested 'off the charts'
Although "he was brilliant" and "he scored off the charts in everything" during pre-testing, mild autism kept him from being accepted, said daughter Karin Bigg. "He could do anything but become a teacher," she said. 
Starting in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Mr. Price moved around often, living in Sausalito, San Francisco, Big Sur, New Mexico, Utah, Occidental, and Atascadero in San Luis Obispo County. He was married three times. 
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he managed the grounds of the Monterey-based Esalen Institute, a center that largely gave rise to the human-potential movement. 
He also managed the grounds for the Point Reyes Station-based Ting-Sha Institute, a nonprofit educational center blending medicine, art, and spirituality. 
Apart and a part
He found a longterm home in Point Reyes Station in 1981. "Point Reyes seemed able to supply him in sufficient quantities with the two opposites that Ken needed most - solitude and community," Davis said. 
Olema resident Ray Berry this week remembered Mr. Price as a good friend and as a "master" grower of bonsai trees. Mr. Price's trees "show the guy's sensitivity," Berry said. "If you're good at it, the trees show it. They are in many people's collections."
Berry said that in his final months, Mr. Price "knew he was going, and he was ready to go. He was very much at peace with himself." 
Friend Virginia Veach of Inverness Park said, "Ken was fascinated by people and spent much of his time talking with and listening to his friends. He will be sorely missed by those who loved him." 
Mr. Price is survived by his brother Robert Price; sisters Jane Walker and Kathryn Shurmard of Oklahoma and Sara Sue Madsen of Phoenix; daughters Karin Begg and Jenifer Cunico of New Mexico, Rebeca Davis of Oakland, and Ailien Ripple of Novato; and four grandchildren. 
A memorial service will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18, in the Station House Cafe garden. In lieu of flowers, Mr. Price's family has asked that donations be made to the Ting-Sha Institute, Box 226, Point Reyes Station, 94956, or a favorite charity. 

Elie Demers
San Geronimo man dies at 44
San Geronimo resident Elie Demers died Aug. 4 after a sudden illness. He was 44. 
Mr. Demers enjoyed gourmet cooking plus outdoor activities with his family, including camping and skiing, said his wife Cerridwen Fallingstar of San Geronimo this week. 
A native of Massachusetts, Mr. Demers graduated from UCLA and for 18 years was a psychiatric nurse at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. 
Besides his wife, Mr. Demers is survived by his son Zachary Demers of San Geronimo. 
Memorial services are planned for Sept. 8 in Roys Redwoods. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Zachary Demers Trust Fund, Box 282, San Geronimo, 94963, the family said, although cards and good wishes are welcome.

Esther Polese, Inverness, dies
An 81-year-old resident of Duck Cove in Inverness, Esther Miriam Polese, died Aug. 25. 
Mrs. Polese had a degree in social work from UC Berkeley and had worked for Alameda and San Francisco counties. She married James P. Polese, whom she met dancing on ice on Feb. 22, 1941, her husband noted this week. 
After raising four children, she returned to college to earn a teacher's credential. She taught primary grades in Mountain View District. Upon retiring, she and her husband moved to their summer home at Duck Cove, where they lived for the past 20 years. 
"Esther was always very interested in the history of local Native Americans and completed under contract a teachers' guide on the subject and lectured and demonstrated her considerable collection of Indian artifacts," said her husband. 
In recent years, she assisted local grade schoolers. 

Anna Turner
Stinson resident dies at age 53
A Stinson Beach resident for more than 10 years, Anna Turner died of cancer Aug. 27 at her home. She was 53. 
A music producer and a writer, Ms. Turner was one of the first writers for KQED's Focus magazine. 
"She was a very talented craftsman of words," said her mother, Rosalind McRoskey of San Mateo this week. 
Born in San Mateo, Ms. Turner attended Northwestern University before transferring to UC Berkeley and earning a degree in Journalism. 
She joined the then-emerging KQED radio and television stations as a writer, McRoskey said, noting that one assignment involved traveling to Mexico to teach people there about American television. Ms. Turner also co-founded "Music from the Hearts of Space" radio program of ambient electronic, multi-cultural music, now on 91.7 FM late Sunday evenings. 
Besides her mother, Ms. Turner is survived by her sister Joan O'Keefe and two nephews in Placerville. 
Private family services will be held in San Mateo. 
Memorial contributions may be sent to West Marin Senior Services, Box 791, Point Reyes Station, 94956.

Ciel Thalinger
Bolinas activist Ciel Thalinger dies at age 85
Artist and activist Ciel Frampton Thalinger, a longtime resident of Bolinas, died in Mill Valley Sept. 18. She was 85. 
"How beautiful are we human beings when, in the name of brotherhood, we use our minds to know our hearts," Mrs. Thalinger said in 1950. A book of her aphorisms is soon to be published by son Ernest Thalinger of El Sobrante. 
"She was concerned with the dignity and sanctity of life," her son said this week. Her beliefs combined the teachings of Jesus, Freud and Marx, he said, and she believed that world peace was possible and that all people could be clothed and fed. 
"Ciel wanted the world to be a better place, and did what she could to make it that way," said friend Mary Lindheim of Bolinas. 
Helped start consumer group
Mrs. Thalinger helped found Consumers' Union (now publishers of Consumer Reports) in the late 1930s. She also helped start the Young Women's Interracial Club of Ossining, New York in 1947, and Women's Strike for Peace in 1960, a forerunner for the nuclear disarmament group SANE, her son said. 
While in Cuba in 1961, Mrs. Thalinger was mistaken for a foreign dignitary and hugged by Fidel Castro. 
Born in Evanston, Illinois, Mrs. Thalinger began writing poetry as a young girl. At the age of 16 she volunteered for two years as a Sunday School teacher in Valley Park, Missouri, "a small, impoverished, Dust Bowl mining town," according to her son. "She didn't teach religion; she hoped to bring some love and teach them of the world."
Worked at Hull House
Mrs. Thalinger studied art and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1931. She later met and married sculptor Frederic Jean Thalinger, who created "The Defenders," now part of the Smithsonian collection. She volunteered at the Chicago Hull House, where her husband taught sculpture in 1941. 
That year, the couple created a sculpture known as the "Sun Mobile", a symbol of earth and sun relationships, which was shown at the New York Museum of Modern Art and whose fans included Albert Einstein. 
Later, in Ossining, the couple taught art classes for six years. After her husband died in 1965, Mrs. Thalinger moved to Bolinas. Friends said her insight, spirit, and courage helped her survive breast cancer and other physical trauma.
Lincoln Brigade
Social-protest music was important to her, including that of Paul Robeson and later, John Baez. She also championed Robeson's right to speak (the black singer/actor was blacklisted in the McCarthy era), and help him in raising money to bring home the anti-Franco Lincoln Brigade from Spain in 1939. 
"To me she represents the idealistic tradition of those American people trying to work for justice and equality based on dignity and respect for every human being," said friend Ilka Hartmann of San Francisco. 
Among Mrs. Thalinger's sayings: "We who love are mirrored in the hearts of those we just kissed good-by, or perhaps with those we shall soon kiss hello." 
And: "Hello, tomorrow! and all the people that come within your care, I love you!" 
Family and friends have planned a memorial service at St. Aidan's Church in Bolinas for 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12.

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