Janet Mary Silva Houle died Nov. 11, 2009 at the age of 58 after battling the increasingly debilitating effects of inoperable brain tumors.
Mrs. Houle was born April 24, 1951 to her loving parents, Joe and Dorothy Silva. Mrs. Houle grew up on the family ranch out on Tassajara Road in Pleasanton and attended Alisal Elementary and Pleasanton Junior High School. She excelled at school, played clarinet in the school band and began her 4H club activities. While at Amador Valley High School, she was President of the Alisal 4H Club. Alameda County 4H All Star, named 1968 California State Outstanding Junior Catholic Daughter of America, and played clarinet in her high school marching band.
Mrs. Houle went on to earn a bachelor's degree at UC Davis in Child Development and Physiology and a master's degree in School Psychology and Special Education at California State University Hayward. She spent most of her career first as a School Psychologist and then Director of Special Education for San Mateo County. Mrs. Houle also worked in Pleasanton, Gilroy and Imperial School Districts during her career. She loved her work helping children with special needs and was a tireless champion of their rights at both the local and state levels.
Mrs. Houle Jan loved family outings, boating, waterskiing, traveling the world with her "cruising partner" Mom, as well as exploring the United States with her family. She and her family lived in Cupertino until 2001 before moving to Spokane, Wash. and then to Vancouver, Wash. in September 2008. Mrs. Houle's health was good enough so she enjoyed her son Jonathan's wedding to Anna, completing the family circle. They enjoyed a wonderful Christmas and New Year in 2008 with Jonathan and Anna. Most recently, the family spent time with son and daughter, plus Mr. Houle's mom and sister, at a family reunion in Vancouver and Pendleton in August.
She loved life, family, friends,and enjoyed life's dance to the fullest.
Mrs. Houle is survived by her husband Peter, their son Jonathan and his wife Anna, the daughter she always wanted. She is also survived by brother Leonard Silva and sister Wilma Shannon.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a donation on behalf of Mrs. Houle, the family the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). To donate, call 800-533-2873 or visit jdrf.org.
AC Transit Deputy General Manager Jim Gleich died suddenly March 7 at the age of 66.
Mr. Gleich was a dedicated transit official with a dry sense of humor and a "get-the-job-done" style. With an already long and impressive background in community affairs, Mr. Gleich joined AC Transit in 1994, as an employment/accessibility specialist. He rose quickly through the ranks, becoming an assistant general manger in 1997 before being promoted again in 1999 to deputy general manager for external affairs. During much of his tenure at AC Transit, Mr. Gleich was the District's representative to the California Transit Association and was currently serving as a member of the its executive committee.
Prior to AC Transit, Mr. Gleich's work history in public service included more than 30 years as an executive with state and federal government agencies. He was the chief executive officer of public agencies in both Massachusetts and South Dakota; and served as an executive staff member for the U.S. Senate.
Mr. Gleich also was the executive director of the Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund, and served on the boards of directors for the Pine Ridge Education/Action Project; Berkeley/Oakland Jobs for the Homeless Consortium; and the Massachusetts Halfway Houses Corporation. He was a member of the Hearing Panel for the National Citizens Review Commission on the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Mr. Gleich also did volunteer work at San Quentin. But perhaps nothing thrilled him more than being appointed Principal-For-A-Day at Howard Elementary School in East Oakland where he returned repeatedly to read to the children.
Scott Joseph Crawford
Scott Joseph Crawford died March 7 with his loved ones by his side. He was 46.
Born June 6, 1963, he then graduated from Irvington High School in Fremont in 1982. Mr. Crawford was a member of the Fremont FFA, where he met his many lifelong friends. He was a member of the Laborer's Union Local 304 and specialized in aggregates. Mr. Crawvord began his 23-year career with Lonestar Industries and continued as the company transitioned finally into Cemex.
An avid outdoorsman, Mr. Crawford enjoyed hunting, especially with his daughters, and his close friend Guy DeValle. He loved the ranch lifestyle where he made his home for his devoted family where they could enjoy livestock and 4-H. He was a great gardener known for growing huge pumpkins.
Mr. Crawford is survived by his beloved wife Donna of 26 years and their daughters Jessica and Bonnie. He is also survived by his brother Mark Crawford of Kansas City, Miss.; his parents Norm Crawford of Shelton, Wash. and Joyce Duke of Quitman, Texas; and his grandfather "Pop" of San Diego.
Mr. Crawford was a treasured family member to his in-laws, many nieces, nephews and cousins. His love, devotion, straight-forward attitude, friendship and goofiness will be missed by all that were fortunate enough to know him.
He was preceded in death by his brothers Brett and Dean Crawford.
A celebration of life service was held March 13 at the Sunol Community Park in downtown Sunol. Donations can be made to The Crawford Girl's Benefit Account at any US Bank branch.
Richard (Dick) Warren Withoft
Richard (Dick) Warren Withoft died March 3 at the age of 81.
A Bay Area native, Mr. Withoft was born in Oakland, the son of Clarence and Eleanor Withoft. He graduated from Oakland High School and U.C. Berkeley and served in the U.S. Army from 1951 to 1953.
In 1954 Mr. Withoft married Muriel and started a 35-year career as an accountant with General Motors. After retiring from GM, he worked for a number of years as a controller for Power Refrigeration Co.
Mr. Withoft was a very compassionate man and always first in line when he knew someone needed a helping hand. He was a devoted and proud husband, father and grandfather and he was also a devoted Christian. Since 1966 he was an active member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Pleasanton.
He enjoyed cooking and his delicious meals were enjoyed by both family and friends especially his "Cream Puff Ministry." He loved the great outdoors, especially camping, hiking and his great passion for fishing. He also enjoyed traveling and he and Muriel had the opportunity to visit many countries abroad as well as most of the United States.
During his six-year challenge with cancer his positive attitude was an inspiration to his family and friends.
He is survived by his wife Muriel, daughters Rhonda (Brian) Fuery and Sheryl (Calen) Thomas; son Jeff; and four grandchildren, Daniel and DeAnna Fuery, Drew and Devin Withoft.
A Memorial Service was held March 6 at Trinity Lutheran Church. In lieu of flowers, special gifts in memory may be sent to The Foundation Fighting Blindness, 11435 Cronhill Dr. Owings Mills, MD. 21117-2220.