|John E. Skinner
Ex-coach here dies in Kansas
John E. Skinner, 77, was born in Kansas City. During World War II,
he served in the Navy aboard the submarine USS Blower and then enlisted
in the Coast Guard, where he served 18 years as a chief engineer.
From 1965 to 1980, when he retired, he worked for Cummins Mid-America
as a diesel mechanic.
He is survived by his wife of 50 years, Doris D. Skinner; a daughter
and son-in-law, Wendy K. and Brad L. Norman of Michigan; a sister, Mary
Hendrix of Missouri; two brothers, James Skinner of Indiana and Charles
Skinner of Kansas; and three grandsons.
Jeanne Huguenin Dana
Inverness weekender dies
A summer and weekend resident of Inverness, Jeanne Huguenin Dana, died
Oct. 18 in Orinda. Her sister, Kay Holbrook, lives in Inverness.
Mrs. Dana is also survived by her husband, Charles Harrold Dana of
Orinda; a son, Charles H. Dana Jr. of Orinda; a daughter, Katherine G.
Osterioch of Walnut Creek; and numerous grandchildren, nieces, nephews,
Leonard Grandi dies at age 60
Leonard Grandi, a descendant of the pioneer Grandi family of West Marin,
died of a heart attack last Friday at his home in Rohnert Park. He was
Mr. Grandi loved music and played the organ with Lawrence Welk's band,
friends said. He was an Arthur Murray ballroom dance instructor in San
Rafael, and designed Christmas displays enjoyed by families in Rohnert
Park for generations.
"He was a kind and caring person, giving more of himself than he really
could sometimes," said son Lenny Grandi. "He lived life on his own terms,
the way he wanted to. He didn't have to rely on a job or time off [because
of a family trust]. He was a free man."
Born in Point Reyes Station, Mr. Grandi graduated from Tomales High
in 1954, moved to Fairfax and later to Rohnert Park, his son said.
Friend and neighbor Dennis Perry of Rohnert Park said he went to Tomales
High with Mr. Grandi, and dispelled rumors that Mr. Grandi was involved
in putting a cow up on the roof or stoking the shop stove with turpentine.
Mr. Grandi enthusiastically followed high school football, and played
saxophone and piano, Perry said. He studied agriculture and was "sharp
as a tack" about cattle, sheep and banking, but chose not to go into those
professions, his friend added.
Mr. Grandi's relatives, who include the Bianchi family, owned dairy
property from Olema to Inverness Park. His grandfather Louis, father Reno,
and uncle Ennio founded Bank of Marin and started Point Reyes Station's
largest enterprise - the Grandi Company - in 1914, according to historian
The Grandis built a large brick building at the eastern edge of town
which stands (empty) today.
Leonard Grandi reared son Lenny and step-son Leslie Baptiste in Rohnert
Park, where he was well loved by neighboring children, Perry said.
"He would never be down on you for doing something foolish," said Roger
Robertson of Moss Landing, who grew up next door to Mr. Grandi and considered
him a father figure. "He was very forgiving. He was always there."
Mr. Grandi was preceded in death by his wife Mary Lou Grandi in 1992,
and by second wife Joanne Grandi several months ago. He is survived by
son Lenny of Rohnert Park and grandchildren Nichole, Joshua and Victoria.
Point Reyes Nurseryman Otto Quast dies at 72
By Dave Mitchell
Point Reyes Station nurseryman Otto Quast died Oct. 25.
Mr. Quast was a former director of the Marin Resource Conservation
District based in Point Reyes Station and after his election defeat in
1988 continued to sit on the RCD board as a non-voting member.
Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1924, Mr. Quast in 1977 told The Light,
"I speak seven languages with an accent."
He was a shipyard carpenter until an accident in the early 1960s ended
that career and moved him toward professional growing.
"The biggest step is from the hobbyist collector to the producer,"
he said. "If I knew then what I know now, I probably wouldn't have done
Mr. Quast did not use seeds in his nursery, he said: "With seeds, you
don't know what you're getting. Instead you propagate from cuttings, and
you get a plant the same as the parent."
It was a successful approach; Mr. Quast and his wife Lieselotte (Lotte)
sold 300,000 plants per year, with customers having to place orders a year
in advance. The plants ranged from sage and camellias to grapefruits and
The nurseryman took special pride that he and his wife were able to
graft selected varieties of pine - something that supposedly couldn't be
At Mr. Quast's request, no funeral services will be held. He is survived
by his wife Lieselotte of Point Reyes Station, and she asks that any memorial
contributions be made in his name to a favorite charity.
Burial arrangements were handled by Daphne Funerals of Marin.
Otto Walter Reutinger
Stinson Beach resident Otto Walter Reutinger died in his sleep at home
Wednesday, Oct. 23. He was 87. Death was from natural causes.
He was born in San Diego in 1909, the only son of Swiss/German immigrants
to the citrus groves of Southern California.
After graduation from San Diego High School, he attended the University
of New Mexico in Albuquerque, where he earned BA and MA degrees in English.
He then studied at Columbia University in New York, where he had acting
He pursued further graduate studies at the University of California,
specializing in the regional literature of Southern California.
At Berkeley he met and married Joan Castledine in 1937. They lived
at Point Loma in San Diego for 27 years, except for service in the US Army
during World War II.
During his career, he was a teacher and counselor with the San Diego
City Schools. He was also on the board of the San Diego Symphony and was
a precinct chair for the Democratic Party. An avid sailor, he built and
owned a succession of sailboats and served as chairman of the San Diego
Yacht Club Race Committee.
He and his wife built a weekend home at Pine Hills, near Julian in
the mountains east of San Diego, where they raised apples, peaches, cherries,
Wine-making with the Faculty Brothers was a yearly ritual. Until retirement,
he was active in the Army Reserves, rising to the rank of lt. colonel.
In 1969, Joan and he retired to Stinson Beach, where her grandparents
had built a home in 1908. They built a new home, designed and constructed
by local architect Valentino Agnoli, and joined in the activities of the
Mr. Reutinger served as president of the Stinson Beach Community Center
board and as a member of the Volunteer Fire Department board. He and Joan
were emergency medical technicians with the Ambulance Corps of the Department.
He was an ardent conservationist and life-long birder. Active in the
Marin Conservation League and the Mount Tamalpais Interpretive Association,
he wrote and illustrated a guide to the Verna Dunshee trail.
He made a valiant but futile stand against the encroachment of pampas
grass in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. He was also national
membership chair for the Whooping Crane Association and was proud that
Stinson Beach had more members than any other city in the nation.
Mr. Reutinger loved to travel. Joan and he made an adventurous drive
to Oaxaca, Mexico, on their honeymoon in 1938. The trip was partly paid
for with his photographs.
He led many family vacations throughout the western states and to New
England. In their retirement, they made numerous trips throughout Europe,
where they researched both of their family trees in Switzerland and England.
They returned to Mexico on several occasions. On a fishing trip with
his children, he landed a 65-pound rooster fish off Buena Vista, Baja California.
He is survived by Joan, his wife of 59 years; his children Martin,
Christopher, and Anne; his son-in-law Jay Clark; his daughter-in-law Elisa;
and his granddaughters Anna and Eva.
A potluck celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, Nov. 24,
from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Stinson Beach Community Center.
The family requests that memorial contributions be sent to either Audubon
Canyon Ranch (Box 577, Stinson Beach, 94970); or to West Marin Senior Services
(Box 791, Point Reyes Station, 94956).
Peter Behr 1915-1997
Beloved legislator Peter Behr dies at 81
Retired State Senator and former Marin Supervisor Peter Behr, who is
widely credited with persuading Congress to buy much of the land for the
Point Reyes National Seashore, died Monday after living six years with
Parkinson's Disease. He was 81.
Mr. Behr, a resident of Inverness Park from 1979 until the Inverness
Ridge fire destroyed his home in 1995, was remembered this week as an honorable
statesman whose sharp wit and keen intellect made him one of the most effective
and likable figures in Marin history.
"Peter was in politics not because he wanted power, but because he
wanted to perpetuate a way of living," said Olema rancher Boyd Stewart
"If you said to Peter that you wanted to add more people to the county
[to increase the tax base], he would look at you and ask what you would
do with them after you added them."
Quality of life
More intriguing to Behr, Stewart said, were people who had ideas about
improving the quality of life for those who were already residents of Marin.
"Peter would delight in telling you how different people in Marin County
are, how progressive they are," Stewart said. "Peter had an appreciation
of Marin County being a special place."
Part of the reason Mr. Behr "was intensely interested in preserving
agriculture," Stewart said, was that he believed ranchers were an essential
ingredient in Marin's social and economic stew.
Sure, Mr. Behr did have political enemies. However, noted good friend
Kay Holbrook of Inverness, "even people who disagreed strongly with him
had admiration for his honesty and integrity."
Back in 1992, Mr. Behr told a group of West Marin activists that wooing
one's adversaries was the quickest way to overcome them. "Regard them all
as on your side until they prove otherwise," he said.
Urbane and elegant
He "had that elegant Ivy League courtesy," said longtime friend and
political ally Margot Patterson Doss of Bolinas. "I mean it was unfailing.
"Peter Behr was one of the last great statesmen in local politics -
a fine orator, a gentleman always, and graceful. The mundane was beneath
him. You always felt you could trust him totally."
Inverness resident Bill Press, who managed Mr. Behr's State Senate
campaign and later served as his chief of staff, said his former boss restored
Press' faith in elected public service at a time when Press thought "all
politics was evil and all politicians were jerks."
With the state capital full of men who were "alcoholics, womanizers,
lazy, and just dumb," Mr. Behr "was a star from the time he arrived in
Sacramento," said Press, now a mainstay on CNN's Crossfire. "He was a believer,
and he made you believe."
Thoughts on Reagan
And, Press added, Mr. Behr had "a great, biting, sharp wit." Once,
Press recalled, Newsweek magazine asked Behr to describe presidential candidate
Behr's answer: "You can wade through his deepest thoughts and not get
your ankles wet."
"He said this stuff all the time," Press said.
The jab at Reagan notwithstanding, Holbrook said Mr. Behr's sense of
humor was rarely "at the particular expense of anyone. He had more friends
than anyone I've ever known. He was so much fun to be around...
"He's certainly a terrible loss," she added. "He was such a remarkable
man. They don't make people like that anymore."
Mr. Behr died Monday morning after being admitted to Marin General
Hospital a day earlier.
Yale law school
Born in New York City in 1915, Mr. Behr attended prestigious Lawrenceville
prep school and in 1937 graduated from Yale University, where he was a
member of the Book and Snake Society. He then went on to graduate from
Yale Law School.
In World War II, he rose to the rank of lieutenant commander in the
Navy and sailed in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans between 1941 and
Mr. Behr married Sally Clarkson in 1942, and the pair relocated to
the West Coast in 1947. They had three children: Lola, Peter Jr., and Trudy.
He began his legal career with the law firm of Brobeck, Pfleger &
Harrison law in San Francisco, and later founded his own firm, Behr, Kerner,
Coangelo & Imlay.
After serving as a Mill Valley planning commissioner, Mr. Behr's 1956
election to the City Council propelled him on a political odyssey that
carried him to the Marin Board of Supervisors in 1961, when he was appointed
to replace recalled Supervisor Walter Blair. He went on to win reelection
in 1963 and 1967 before leaving midterm to plan his State Senate run.
Former Supervisor Gary Giacomini, who called Behr his "guiding mentor"
in politics, explained that Behr always knew when to walk away from a political
post, and that each stop was only good for a couple of terms.
"He was never an overly ambitious man," Giacomini said. "He did what
he could, when he could. He was in it for what he could do best at that
Upon becoming supervisor, Mr. Behr grabbed hold of the cause for creating
the Point Reyes National Seashore. Early on, he was part of a narrow majority
on the board that endorsed a full-size park rather than a 20,000-acre version
then being considered.
Save Our Seashore
After the park got federal approval, Behr helped in getting the initial
$14 million in funding. Throughout the 1960s, however, more funding proved
slow in coming. And by the end of the decade, the $38 million needed to
complete the majority of the land purchase threatened to never materialize.
It was then that Behr and others launched the Save Our Seashore campaign.
Ultimately, 450,000 people signed petitions supporting the allocation,
which President Nixon approved in 1970.
Mr. Behr "was concerned about the fact that there wasn't broad, [enthusiastic]
public support" to create the park, said rancher Stewart. "Marin County
was a quiet county. They didn't raise a ruckus much. [So] he did something
that was very catchy. He came up with a slogan, Save Our Seashore, [and]
it worked. It was very effective."
Commented Holbrook, "We wouldn't have our Seashore the way it is now
if it hadn't been for Peter. He was able to transmit that enthusiasm to
a group of workers. It spread like wildfire. We got signatures from all
over the country."
Running as a liberal Republican, Mr. Behr was elected to the State
Senate in 1970 and served two terms. "He said he didn't want to [run as
a Republican], but he said that was the only way he could get elected,"
Press recalled that during the campaign, he and the aspiring senator
cruised the district in a red and black Chevy Camaro that had been converted
to run on propane.
Although it took two legislative sessions to do it, Mr. Behr got his
landmark Wild and Scenic Rivers Act passed in 1972. The bill protected
some of Northern California's rivers from damming and kept their waters
from being diverted.
Wild and Scenic Rivers Act
Despite Behr's gentle demeanor, Press said, the river bill revealed
"a very tough side" to him. "He had backbone. He had guts."
The principal rivers in the legislation - the Klamath, Eel, and Trinity
- snaked through the district of Republican Sen. Randolph Collier, whom
Press called "a pawn of the timber industry...
"Peter went into [Collier's] district and went to war and won."
Mr. Behr built environmental credentials not typical of Republicans.
His work also focused on protecting wildlife such as mountain lions and
tule elk, and he was successful in stopping coyote-management techniques
he considered barbaric.
His progressive legacy includes legislative and legal reform, a daycare
program for children of high school mothers, a work program for prison
inmates, and programs for disabled people.
Fought Prop. 13
In 1978, he was unsuccessful as the principal opponent of Howard Jarvis,
the author of Proposition 13. He debated Jarvis on the tax measure "up
and down the state," noted Bruce Scott, Mr. Behr's son-in-law.
He retired from the Legislature in 1978 but continued working on environmental
issues. He taught at UC Berkeley's School of Public Policy, twice was president
of the Marin Conservation League, and served as board member of Friends
of the River, the Sierra Club Foundation, and the statewide Planning and
For 10 years, he also served on the Distribution Committee of the San
Francisco Foundation when it controlled the Buck Fund, and he opposed the
foundation's ill-fated attempt to break the Marin-only clause in Beryl
Tomales Bay group
In 1989, Mr. Behr help form the Tomales Bay Advisory Committee, which
is made up of numerous groups, agencies, and businesses to monitor and
curtail degradation of the bay.
As chairman of the committee, Behr was especially impressive in getting
people "to focus on the common good," said Don Neubacher, superintendent
of the Point Reyes National Seashore and member of the committee.
"He was a good moderator and a good listener," said Neubacher, adding
that Behr insisted on including not just environmentalists, but groups
with business interests on the bay such as kayak companies, oyster growers,
the Marshall Boat Works, and Lawson's Landing.
With that approach, Neubacher said, "You get a greater understanding
of what needs to happen. Peter was really a master at bringing these groups
together. When he spoke, people listened. He was a great guy."
A good man
Added Richard Plant of Inverness, who last year took over as committee
chairman, "He seemed to have all the good qualities that people could possess
and none of the bad ones."
Holbrook, who organized the group with Mr. Behr and has served as its
longtime secretary, was often amazed at his ability to snuff out acrimony.
"When things would get tense in a meeting, he would come forth with a wisecrack
or a story that would smooth things over," she said.
That ability to rise above trench-level political bickering often prompts
admirers to rank Mr. Behr among the few politicians to leave public life
with a sterling reputation intact.
Indeed, said Press, "You may not see another Peter Behr in politics
because you may not see another Peter Behr."
Mr. Behr is survived by his wife Sally of Novato; his daughters Lola
Haskins of Gainesville, Fla. and Trudy Scott of Novato; his son Peter Behr
Jr. of San Anselmo; his brother Karl Behr of Lake Wales, Fla.; and seven
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 22 (1997),
at St. John's Episcopal Church in Ross. A reception will follow at the
Art and Garden Center in Ross.