Sue Rucker Bowers
May 27, 1944 - March 27, 2013
By Leslie Plant
Sue Rucker Bowers, a beloved resident of Point Reyes Station for many years, died peacefully on March 27, 2013 after years of battling illness. Sue was born on May 27, 1944, in Louisville, Kentucky. Her brother recounts that the family led a “rather wandering life, moving many times,” adding that “in her childhood and teen years her passions were horseback riding and piano playing.” Sue mentioned that she attended Beaver College for two years, near Philadelphia. There, according again to her brother, she “actually earned some money playing guitar and singing in a couple of bars, in one of which she even met some guy named Bob Dylan.” Two additional years were spent at Michigan State University studying art.
Sue came west after college with the dream of surviving as an artist and with her love of horses intact. She moved to West Marin in the late sixties. For quite a while she cleaned houses to earn money so she could paint and support the horses she acquired. She later decided to study to become a certified massage therapist. She lived in Forrest Knolls, then Inverness, then Pt. Reyes Station, initially in Coast Guard housing during a short marriage to a Coast Guardsman in the seventies, and then in the little house at the edge of town, where she practiced her massage therapy for so many years. At a stable and paddock on the same property, she kept the horses. It was where her last, Olivia, was foaled 24 years ago- an event that many in the town still recall. Olivia has been provided for and is living out her years at pasture in Nicasio.
Sue was an adamant atheist, a fact declared to several proselytizing Christian roommates at care facilities with very un-minced retorts. But “Trinitarian”, a framing word in the Christian lexicon, seems (with a small “t “) to help frame Sue’s character. She had three engrossing and defining pursuits: art, horses and horsemanship, and maintaining high standards as a massage therapist. She showed a true talent for painting and drawing as seen in such works as an assured impressionistic landscape and a compelling surreal portrait of her old dog. Her equestrian passion was for dressage, itself a balletic art form uniting horse and rider. She felt privileged to have studied under a famous trainer. Amy Schliftmann, physical therapist in Point Reyes Station and a friend and former client of Sue’s, comments that “Sue was a talented massage therapist” and spoke of Sue’s professional integrity and of the pride of accomplishment she felt in her work. Sue was attentive to the needs of each of her clients. I share with many the feeling that when we climbed up on to that heated massage table, gazing at the walls painted a warm pinkish sienna like the light of the sun setting on stone, pain and preoccupations began to vanish. Liz Daniels, a long-time friend said “Her strength through her illness was amazing. She never stopped wanting to make people physically feel better through her magical massage.” Illness had thwarted the first two passions for some years, but her eye for good art and good equine confirmation continued to give her pleasure. She fought like hell to maintain the third up until the last few months of her life.
At the heart of her vivid personality, three strong virtues were obvious and intertwined: self-reliance, generosity of spirit, and intellectual curiosity. Sue was frugal out of necessity, but she made that frugality - untouched by stinginess or the thought of self-pity - a sort of philosophic art of living, in which barter played a large role. Again Liz Daniels: “Sue was a woman with not much need…Content with her very private lifestyle…She was such a giver, not ever a taker.” Kathy Runnion said recently that, while doing volunteer work in a past year to help feral cats near Sue’s house, she was given the gift of massages from Sue as thanks for her efforts to improve the animals’ situation.
When faced with the adversities of illness, Sue worked hard to actively manage her medical conditions. Although not a passive patient, she was quick to voice an intense gratitude for all that the staff at the West Marin Medical Center, and especially her doctor, Colin Hamblin, had done to shore up her health and her sense of independence. She deeply appreciated her friends as well, and when visited at care facilities always asked that her thanks be passed on to all those who had helped her. She did, indeed, love the whole town of Point Reyes Station and called herself lucky to know so many good people in it.
But she did not suffer fools gladly, nor the tainted psyches of opportunists, the self-absorbed, the arrogant, or devotees of schadenfreude. On her massage room wall were two certificates handed down to her proclaiming that her mother and her father qualified, through their lineage, to be members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. The infamous DAR. Sue kept them there to bug the odd clients who cared about social status and wouldn’t put a massage therapist in a tiny house very high up on its hierarchy. She was well read, and minutely informed about national politics, art, and the latest town gossip. She was a very enthusiastic patron of the Pt. Reyes Library. Her collection of books and music recordings was large, eclectic and classy.
We are better for having had Sue in our midst, for her caring about us and our caring about her.
She is survived by her brother, Jeffrey Rucker, who sails the Pacific with his wife.
There will be a gathering in remembrance of Sue at the Church Space at the Dance Palace on Friday, May 3, at 5:00.
Soledad Gomez – lovely woman gone too soon
By Larken Bradley
Inverness resident Soledad Gomez, who came from her native Mexico 18 years ago to settle on McClure’s Ranch, where her husband was employed, died October 10, in an Oakland hospital, from metastatic breast cancer. She was 50 years old.
Popular and well-liked in the community, Mrs. Gomez advocated for her children’s education, sitting in the front row at school-board meetings even before she learned to speak English. She taught catechism at Sacred Heart Church and organized the congregation’s annual tamale feed that accompanied the December feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe – with parish ladies preparing 1,500 tamales for sale.
Kind-hearted and understanding, she saw the best in people no matter how they behaved. “She would leave you feeling good,” said her daughter, Liset Gomez. “People would say to me, ‘Oh my God, I love your mom.’”
Born on February 14, 1962, in Jalostotitlan, Jalisco, Mexico, young Soledad met her future husband in the town plaza, a popular place for courtship. After their marriage, the two first moved to Turlock, then to West Marin.
Becomes US citizen
A number of years later, Mrs. Gomez was naturalized as a US citizen. “It was a big, big success,” her daughter said.
Mrs. Gomez worked as a housekeeper for several local families, who this week recalled her dependability, eagerness to learn and can-do attitude.
She was predeceased by her brother, Jose Maria Macias.
Mrs. Gomez is survived by her husband, Jose Gomez; daughters, Liset and Rocio Gomez; and her son, Jaciel Gomez, all of Inverness; her parents, Jose Maria Macias and Maria del Refugio Cornejo, of Jalostotitlan, Mexico; sisters, Maria del Socorro Gallo of Oakland; Maria Guadalupe Perez of Turlock; Maria del Carmen Macias and Patricia Macias; and her brothers, Roberto Macias; Jesus Macias; Hector Manuel Macias; Omar Miguel Macias and Gerardo Macias, all of Jalostotitlan, Mexico.
Mrs. Gomez was buried in Mexico. Locally, a Rosary was prayed in her name at Sacred Heart Church last month.
West Marin Citizen, November 14, 2012
Eileen Gleber December 25, 1949- August 1, 2012
Eileen was like an adorable Irish pixie who miraculously came out from under a four leaf clover and blessed us here in West Marin with a few wonderful years. She was very private and shy in her personal life, yet so open, warm and intimate as a physician and healer.
Eileen came to us from New York. She had actually started her professional life as a chemist for the EPA in Providence, Rhode Island testing water quality. When her son went to law school she decided to “retire” and follow her dream to be a physician. After her early years on Catalina Island, she practiced at the Petaluma Community Clinic where she met Mike Witte. When Molly Bourne left her practice in West Marin and Dr. Whitt was left to handle the practice alone, Dr. Witte suggested Eileen as a good fit. It was really a match made in heaven, bringing to the community possibly the only person on earth who could have walked into Molly Bourne’s shoes and at the same time fulfilling Eileen’s dream of many, many years of returning to live in West Marin.
Eileen truly practiced medicine 24/7. Most nights found her catching naps on one of the examining tables or on the floor at the West Marin Medical Clinic so that she could use the quiet time in the office to research symptoms of a patient or review charts to make sure there was nothing she had missed. Almost everyone in West Marin had either her pager number or her cell phone number or her e-mail address or all three. She was available to anyone, anytime.
Eileen never got to fulfill her long held dream of going to Africa to help women in villages lacking proper medical care with prenatal care and childbirth. However, she was able to work with people in Nepal and the Dominican Republic which brought her great joy.
Barbara Whitt reminisces about her “Eileen was a very private person. Medicine was her life and her patients were her children. While (Eileen) was in the hospital she would ask me to tell a patient that they needed to eat more, another that she needed more rest. Always thinking of her patients. I took her to some of her Chemo appointments and on the way back she would see how easy and nice it was to have someone for company and to do the driving and she could rest. She will be in our hearts and minds for a long time.”
Long time patient and friend Trish Johnson shares “I noticed her small white car parked outside the medical center in the vacant lot behind the office. The Center was closed but Eileen toiled away inside. I knew her car, because she had come to our house many times while I was recovering from cancer and experienced multiple infections. She brought clean bandages, taught us how to use hygienic precautions in the house, how to be firm with visitors about hugging, touching, sharing foods. She was visiting one afternoon and her private cell vibrated a call. When she looked at the number she wanted to pick up immediately because it was her son in New York. He had married the mother of his child just that morning and she was excited and pleased. After she received the good news, Eileen said, “Now Aisling is legitimate!” Her patter raced to deciding when to go to New York, how happy she was to hear from him, and life was sublime at that point. Every time I saw her after that, she beamed about her granddaughter and her development. Eileen would comment, “Oh yes, I was at your house when I heard her parents had married.” Her smiles were quick, her medical knowledge vast, and her love of the practice of medicine enamored all and built a tremendous amount of confidence in her abilities. Dr. Gleber was easy to talk to and it seemed incongruous to call her “Doctor Gleber” because one felt she was a friend who just happened to have a tremendous amount of medical knowledge to lead you on the path to health. She was not shy about suggesting alternative methods, plants or foods to lead you to health or at least to feel you were doing something for yourself to heal, it wasn’t all chemotherapy or traditional medicine. Eileen left you with a list of what had been discussed during an office visit and what the next steps were. I returned home with a clear written path of what was to be done. God, I will miss her.”
Eileen met her husband Richard in 1968. He was a teacher and while the teachers were on strike was working in a friend’s bookstore. Eileen was a college student and came in to buy books. He was immediately smitten with her. They were married a year later at the United Nations Chapel and vowed that any births from their union would be devoted to peace in the world. Their son Erich has made that dream come true.
Eileen and Richard divorced many years ago but always remained the closest of friends and loved each other. Richard says “She was my rock, my lifeline. If anything was difficult in my life I called her.” Though they led separate lives sometimes thousands of miles apart, they talked on the phone regularly and they saw each other whenever they could. Richard regrets that so many years went by before they remarried. Eileen loved the outdoors – hiking, wildlife, trees – yet she was always so busy caring for her patients that she didn’t take the time to get out and enjoy her surroundings as she always meant to do. They had planned to go to Yosemite, to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, so many things which they never got to do together because of Eileen’s devotion to her calling.
She was an inspiration on how to lead one’s life – caring more for all living things rather than for remuneration, financial reward or material things. She loved animals and animals loved her. Richard remembers one time when Eileen was young seeing her walk into the forest with dogs and cats following in her footsteps, just like a pied piper. During her final days their dog and cat stayed closely by her side, morose that she was so ill.
Eileen was very spiritual and always stayed closely connected to her Catholic roots. She loved the Catholic community in Olema and got to mass whenever she could. One highlight of the last year was her trip to Ireland to see the traditional Catholic Church wedding of her son and daughter-in-law and the special time she got to spend on that trip with her beloved granddaughter.
A completely private person to the very end, when she got to the point in her illness that she needed hospice care she told the Hospice workers that Richard would care for her. She only wanted her very closest family with her and Richard, with help from their son Erich and her brother, Ronald McGuire took care of her and stayed by her side.
The cards and phone calls from the many, many people in the community who mourn her loss have a recurring theme, “Angel of Mercy”, “Shooting Star”, “made great changes in my life”. Trish Johnson says “Dear, dear Eileen, as you look down on those you cared for in West Marin, I hope you realize how you touched our lives and made it so easy for us to tell you our cares and symptoms. You were a wonderful physician and I will miss you sorely.” As her husband Richard put it “She made everything seem worthwhile.” —— Suzanne Speh
Coral E. Flint
March 22, 1924 - August 20, 2012
Coral was born in Bungendore, New South Wales, Australia. While working as a nurse at Canberra Community Hospital, she met an American sailor on a blind date and soon after was married in 1945. Her maiden name was Guy, and until they left Australia for America, her new husband, Dick Flint, was known as “Nurse Guys husband.” They spent time in New York City and Roseville, then eventually settled in Inverness in 1959 where they raised their three children. At one time, Coral and Dick owned the Silver Dollar, which is currently the Station House Cafe. They were able to make many friends and maintain a happy environment. Coral loved RVing, gardening, knitting, and hiking the local beaches in search of glass balls and other interesting treasures. Arthritis put an end to these activities. Fortunately, her grandson, Tim, got her a 4 wheel electric cart, which she would tour the neighborhood in Second Valley with, meeting and making friends.
She was predeceased by two sons: David Flint and Michael Flint. She is survived by her daughter, Bea Flint of Inverness, grandsons Richard Tanner of Point Reyes Station, Tim Tanner (Gina) of Inverness, Jay Recor (Jessica) of Chileno Valley, Ryker Flint of Sacramento, Leon Flint (Ashleigh) of Petaluma, Dean Flint, granddaughter, Tamarra Epperson of Yuba City and fifteen great grand children. She was fondly known as “Nonnie” by her relatives and many others as well.
Coral passed away peacefully in her sleep after experiencing several medical problems. Her joy and love of life was enjoyed by many over the years. She will be greatly missed.
Philip L. Fradkin, a wonderful husband, father, friend and community member of Point Reyes, Ca. passed away in his home on July 7th, 2012. He was surrounded in love by his wife (Dianne), his son (Alex), and his daughter (Cleo) in the morning hours of a beautiful sunny coastal day.
Philip will be incredibly missed. His passion for his family, community and the Western landscape is a profound loss that will be felt by all who were deeply touched by his presence and work. He not only impacted those close to him, but countless others through his twelve highly acclaimed books and passion for conserving the American West. Philip received a Pulitzer Prize while reporting with the L.A. Times and went onto receive many awards and acclaim for his writings.
Merle Lawson – gone fishin’ at 85
By Larken Bradley
Merle Lawson, who co-founded Lawson’s Landing in Dillon Beach and who lived to introduce others to the joys of fishing, died in Arizona on April 23 from heart problems. He was 85.
In 1956 Mr. Lawson and his brother Mike Lawson built a campground and began running clam and abalone barges and charter boats from their marina near the mouth of Tomales Bay. The brothers later added to the business a sand-quarry operation.
“Merle was a magnet for fish,” said friend Tom McHale of Dillon Beach. “Everyone wanted to fish around him.” Unlike a lot of fishermen, Mr. Lawson radioed in, and told others where the fish were biting. His battle cry: “Fish on!”
In the early years, when his stretch of coast lacked a local Coast Guard station, Mr. Lawson was called on for many water-rescue missions.
Tractor vs. bureaucrat
Young Merle was born on May 3, 1925, on his family’s dairy ranch in Woodland, Yolo County. His family lost the ranch during the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and moved to the Dillon Beach ranch relatives had owned since 1896.
After graduating from Tomales High School in 1942, at age 17, he enlisted in the US Navy. He shipped out to the island of Tuvalu, seeing action in the South Pacific. At the end of World War II he trained as a pilot, flying training missions over the Bermuda Triangle and the Florida Keys.
Back in California, on Thanksgiving Day, 1945, he met his future wife Icymae Stearns, a classmate of his sister. The two married the following September.
Living in the far reaches of Marin County, Mr. Lawson was a self-starter who got things done on his own terms. Before planning commissions and design review boards existed, if a barn needed building, it was built. When a road needed fixing, Mr. Lawson fixed it. Later, as county agencies began clamping down, Mr. Lawson had his share of run-ins with bureaucrats. Friends remember the time Mr. Lawson ran a county representative off the ranch with his tractor.
Played the organ
Mr. Lawson had a commanding presence and big hands – a trait of Lawson men. He was gruff on the outside, but, Tom McHale said, “Anyone who knew Merle knew he was a teddy bear.
He was also a musician. “Merle played the organ, and he played it beautifully,” said longtime employee Pamela George.
Next to fishing, Mr. Lawson liked tractors best, John Deere tractors in particular. “His major life events, from his point of view, would probably have revolved around the purchases of new boats or tractors,” said his grandson, Willy Volger.
He accidentally drove tractors over cliffs any number of times, managing to ride them out, his grandson recalled. In 1986 his brother, Mike, was killed in a tractor accident.
Arizona sewer board
Mr. Lawson and his wife retired to Arizona in 1988, where he golfed, operated an RV storage unit and served as chairman of the board of his community’s sewer district. Coming from Dillon Beach, he knew a lot about sewers.
The couple took luxury cruises internationally, went fishing in Baja, and came home to Dillon Beach every summer. “Merle’s place of worship was the water,” said Pamela George.
He was predeceased by his brother, Mike Lawson; and by his sisters, Anita Kjobmand; and Ada Granger.
Mr. Lawson is survived by his wife of 65 years, Icymae Stearns Lawson of Casa Grande, Arizona; daughters and sons-in-law, Gloria Lawson Duby and Al Duby of Putney, Vermont; and Nancy Lawson Vogler and Bill Vogler of Superior, Arizona; five grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Plans are underway for The Merle Lawson Memorial Fishing Derby to be held this summer.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Tomales Regional History Center.
West Marin Citizen, May 10, 2012