Elsa Roscoe and her then-husband Ray Spafford found Portola Valley on a sightseeing jaunt in the days when the Alpine Hills sub-division was just being laid out. They fell in love with the place with its few houses tucked in among the trees; they felt they’d fit in well with the outdoorsy people.
Developer Don Holden carved out an extra “problem lot” for them on Holden Court. It had an irregular shape and was overgrown with vegetation; they considered the lot a challenge, but it had a better price than the others and had a forest in back and a fine view. People said: why would you move way out there? No street lights, no sidewalks, no sewers, and no private phone lines. In fact, for years the Spaffords shared a party line with their neighbors the Linvills. That arrangement worked so well that the two families continued it for many, many years, until the phone company said they had to have private lines.
She was an ardent naturalist and loved animals, especially her cats, Reilly and ENC. Elsa modeled for Eastman Kodak and at charity events in an earlier time. She outlived three husbands, traveled the world, sometimes on freighters, went on digs every summer with Earthwatch, volunteered at the USGS and practiced yoga every day from her 60s onward.