Leonore Rooney Daschbach: Reflections on a life well spent in Atherton

by Linda Hubbard on July 12, 2011

A visit with Leonore Rooney Daschbach, who’s lived in the same house in Atherton since she was six years old,  is recalling a time that is no longer — and one that, in many respects, is the same.

“Growing up, there were only boys on my street except for Sis [Whelan Lussier],” she recalls, “so we were stuck playing with them. We rode our bikes everywhere all the way to Palo Alto to go to a movie. That was before the Park Theater opened. I think Harry [Whelan] and I were there at the opening.”

A conversation with Leonore is filled with family remembrances and talk of long-standing traditions and friendships, a fact underscored by daugher Laura Daschbach Pitchford: “I am guessing that between the Whelans and the Daschbach families there are at least a dozen Godparent/Godchild relationships. When we were kids, everyone thought we were cousins so we all just went along with it and told people that we were!”

Then there’s the relationship with Jane Rothchild Turner, who Leonore met when they were girls. Grown with children of their own, over the past 50 years their respective families have vacationed together, packing up station wagons to head to all parts of the country. In recent decades, with a third generation now involved, the trips have been closer to home at Lake Tahoe. (Pictured below is the gathering last year at Tahoe.)

family gathering at Tahoe

Husband Howard (to Leonore’s right, above) came into Leonore’s life shortly after he’d graduated from Stanford Law School. “People said I was too tall for him,” she recalls, “but it all worked out. I’d been to college and also to Europe a couple of times. I was ready to marry and settle down.”

They had six children in 10 years, all of whom attended St. Raymond School except for Laura. (She missed the cut off age and went to her mother’s alma mater, Sacred Heart  from kindergarten through 4th, then to St. Joseph and back to Sacred Heart for high school.) The connection to St. Raymond continues through the latest generation, and in May the school field was officially named the Leonore and Howard Daschbach Family Field in honor of the couple’s long commitment to the school.

Early in her life Leonore gained a love for horses and dogs — lots of Golden Retrievers, but some terriers and other breeds including a Basset Hound named Solo. “I actually paid money for him,” she says. “For whatever reason he’d take every opportunity to get out the gate.”

Recalls daughter Laura: “It’s the only time I remember my Mom yelling, when one of the dogs got out. Mom did most of the driving, and the dogs would sometimes get the front seat and my Dad would be in the back.” Added Leonore: “Dogs don’t get mad at you.”

While she was growing up, her father kept a couple of horses on the nearby Odell property. She remembers a time when she would ride not only at the Circus Club and on the Sacred Heart campus but all over Atherton. “I was going to run away once and take the dogs and horses,” she says.

Leonore suffered a stroke in 1994, and while it affected her speech and mobility somewhat, she has few other ill effects her eyes, in particular, sparkle a vibrant blue. “It was the first time I’d ever been hospitalized,” she says, “except for having all six kids on the other side of the building. People say unkind things about Stanford, but I spent a month there a week recovering and three weeks in the rehabilitation unit and I think it was great.”

Through all the years and all the family mischief a painting that her mother collected shows the knick of some flying object out of one of her children’s hand she’s stayed steadfast in her appreciation of the town that she’s made her life in. “Horses, dogs, and an occasional child — it’s been a wonderful life. I love it here.”

Top photo of Leonore Rooney Daschbach by Scott R. Kline

Daschbach/Turner clan photo by Laura Daschbach Pitchford


W. J.Daschbach September 12, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Thank you for posting this wonderful article about the Daschbach family. This provides a bit of insight and a glimpse into the lives of my distant relatives from the west.


Siena October 19, 2011 at 11:27 am

What a lovely chat with a very lovely woman. She has always been special to me. She and Howard were a big part of my life when I attended SH as a border back in the late 50’s. She and my Mom were 1st cousins.

Siena Mondavi O’Connell

christine hafner germino October 21, 2011 at 1:15 am

dearest howard, leonore, leelee, rooney, lisa, laura and mark –

i feel like i just lost a sister. my heart is breaking for you all. i can just remember all the fun, wonderful loving days i spent with you in our younger days. especially at the dinner table. there was so much love passed around that ever time i left your home i felt “now that’s what’s it’s all about – life, family and love”. what can i say about michele that every person who knew her didn’t know – she was so warm, loving, endearing, and just a happy soul as you all are! she was a true reflection of the “Daschbach Family”.

Although i never had a chance to get to know michele’s husband and children i know in my heart that they were so lucky beyond belief to have had her in their life even more so then we were. my prayers along with my entire family are with you now and forever. God Bless Michele because she was a blessing!!! hugs to you all – christine

Fred Tiso October 27, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Dear Howard, Leonore, Leelee, Rooney, Lisa, Laura and Mark:

Embarassingly late belated sympathy on this tragic loss. God bless Michele and God bless the Daschbach family. Regards, Fred Tiso

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