Obituaries

Post image for Lurline Matson Roth Coonan passes away at age 97

Lurline Matson Roth Coonan, who grew up at Filoli, passed peacefully with her family at the age of 97 on August 13, leaving a deep and enduring legacy to the estate.

Lurline first came to Filoli in 1937 as a 17-year-old when her parents, Lurline Matson Roth and William P. Roth, purchased the estate. She often recalled that at first her siblings and her mother did not see the need to move. They were happy splitting their time between their home in San Francisco and their nearby 80-acre Why Worry Horse Farm, also in Woodside, but they were quickly enchanted with Filoli, its gardens and the surrounding land.

Lurline and her identical twin sister Berenice were accomplished equestrians, having learned to ride their mother’s show horses growing up. All of the Roth children grew up riding and competing in the ring and on the courses. The family brought horses to Filoli and the tradition continued. Lurline rode until her early nineties.

Throughout the decades there were many wonderful celebrations, events, and debut balls celebrated at Filoli. One of the grandest was when the Roth twins made their debut in September of 1939. The headlines in San Francisco said, “the girls were launched into society like luxury liners,” playing on the family’s maritime connections. Their parents had gifted them both a pin with their name in diamonds. Lurline always shared the story of how the girls spent the night switching them back and forth. In their youth, very few people, even those in their immediate family, could tell them apart.

During the war years, Lurline married the love of her life, James F. Coonan, in November of 1943. Their wartime wedding took place at the nearby Episcopal Church of St. Matthew, but their intimate reception was held at Filoli.

Growing up at Filoli had a lasting impression on Lurline. Like her mother, she was a lifelong member of the Woodside-Atherton Garden Club. A talented flower arranger, Lurline exhibited in both Filoli’s Flower Show and the DeYoung’s annual Bouquets to Art, where she was a key designer showing every year — from its inaugural show in 1984 until her final display in 2014. They knew her as the dame de fleurs. In more recent years at Filoli, her miniature designs delighted other designers and guests alike.

Lurline was also a gracious hostess and a wonderful cook. Using a tried and true family recipe, she continued the tradition of making persimmon bread every Christmas — a tradition her mother had begun with Filoli’s persimmons from the Rose Garden.

When her mother gifted Filoli to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975, Lurline supported the fledgling organization along with her twin sister, helping start the first docent training program.

For more than 40 years, she has served as a volunteer, board member, or advisory council member. She presented and spoke dozens of times over the years, sharing her family’s history and stories with volunteers.

Her last presentation in 2016 was to a sold out crowd of more than 300. She was also interviewed for the documentary Filoli: Family Home, Historic Garden, Living Museum, now showing in the estate’s Visitor and Education Center, where again, she graciously shared her stories of what life was like growing up at this remarkable place. For her, it would always be home.

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Long time Menlo Park resident Arthur Flegel passes away at age 100 years, seven months

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Arthur E. Flegel, who brought furniture to downtown Menlo Park with the opening of Flegel’s Home Furnishings on Santa Cruz Avenue in 1954, passed away in his sleep on March 16. The longtime Menlo Park resident was 100 years, seven months old. There will be a memorial service for Mr. Flegel on May 4, 2018, […]

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Pioneering SLAC physicist Richard Taylor, who won a Nobel Prize, passes away at age 88

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Richard Edward Taylor, one of the pioneering particle physicists working at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, died at his Stanford campus home on February 22 at the age of 88. Taylor was an early user of the 2-mile-long linear accelerator at SLAC and carried out experiments that revealed subatomic particles called quarks […]

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Three-time Menlo Park Mayor Billy Ray White dies at age 81

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Art collector and philanthropist Harry “Hunk” Anderson dies at age 95

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Philanthropist and art collector Harry W. “Hunk” Anderson died on Feb. 7 at his Atherton home surrounded by his family. He was 95. Anderson was the founder of food services company, Saga Corporation,  and with his wife, Mary Margaret “Moo,” and daughter, Mary Patricia “Putter,” a devoted art collector. In 2011, Stanford University announced that […]

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Kató Mendelssohn Reis passes away at age 98

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Teacher and active volunteer, Anne Flegel passes away at age 74

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Anne Hartwig Flegel, a former first-grade teacher at St. Joseph’s School in Atherton, an active member of Peninsula Volunteers, and a longtime Atherton resident, died June 26 at age 74. A memorial service is scheduled for 2:00 pm on Aug. 4 at Menlo Church (950 Santa Cruz Ave). Ms. Flegel suffered from dementia since 2011, and […]

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Ed Dobbs, local business owner and mentor to many, passes away at age 68

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Edward Francis Dobbs, 68, passed away on February 22 at his home in Redwood City after a short and aggressive battle with brain cancer. He will be missed for many reasons, but most certainly for his warm smile and his love of life. A memorial service for Ed will take place at Peninsula Bible Church (3505 Middlefield Rd) […]

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Florence Detlor, resident of Menlo Park for 62 years, passes away at age 105

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Florence Audrey Davidson Detlor died peacefully in her beloved Menlo Park home on January 4, 2017, at the ripe young age of 105 years old — just one month shy of her 106th birthday. With a lifespan that bore witness to the sinking of the Titanic, women’s suffrage, World Wars I and II as well […]

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Former Atherton resident Vera Stern passes away at age 94

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Clark Atkinson, native son of Menlo Park and man of many talents, dies at age 72

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Robert “Clark” Atkinson III died unexpectedly on September 15 while tending his prize-winning fuchsias in Woodside. The cause was a heart attack; he was 72. He is survived by sister Mary Jane Atkinson and brother Bill Atkinson as well as numerous nieces and nephews, both related and “adopted.” A celebration of his life is planned for […]

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