George and Marjorie Mader, long-time Ladera residents, know more about Portola Valley and its residents than most people who have lived in town for a long time. Marjorie was a reporter for the Almanac for decades, and the Portola Valley School District was her beat.
She has witnessed the passage of countless school boards, has worked with parents, teachers and other community members and thus has a comprehensive understanding of how the district works. George was the town planner from 1965 until 2011.
As a county planner, he worked on a study of Portola Valley before it was incorporated. His remarkable vision in planning strategies to implement the will of the councils has been instrumental in preserving the beauty of the land as development has occurred. A pioneer in planning for geologic safety, he has crafted the technical ordinances designed to protect life and property from landslides and earthquakes. He has carried the Portola Valley story around the world to countries endangered by faulting to pass on the knowledge learned here. The Maders were Blues and Barbecue honorees in 2001.
George’s insights into how planning in Portola Valley has evolved from early days can be seen in these two videos. They are lengthy and quite detailed.
Although Ryland Kelley and his family have never lived in Portola Valley, his career in real estate and as a developer have had a significant impact on the area.
When the Peninsula Housing Association could not complete their housing project in Ladera in the early 1950s, Ry’s firm, the Portola Development Company, took over and completed the development of our 500-house neighbor, including the shopping center. Hidden Valley, the little incursion of Woodside into Portola Valley near the Town Center, was also his project in the 1950s. When plans for housing on Windy Hill couldn’t be worked out in 1979, he and his company, Corte Madera Associates, donated 535 acres to POST, the private land trust’s first acquisition. The land was subsequently transferred to Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD.)
[As an interesting sidelight, Ry was a kindergarten buddy of Bob Brown, one of our most influential town founders.]
You may enjoy this hour plus video where he explains his role and that of others.
The Jean and Bill Lane have been enormous benefactors to Portola Valley for decades.
Bill Lane camped in Portola Valley as a boy; Jean, however, came to California after college, met Bill, and first visited our town when she was looking for horse property . When the Realtor showed her the site where she still lives, she knew immediately that it was the right place.
Their Westridge property eventually extended to ten acres, over which they placed a conservation easement, to maintain open space into the future. This agreement means that the two lots they purchased in addition to their original site cannot have houses built on them.
Bill was a key figure in the incorporation of Portola Valley, and Jean was a founding member of the Westridge Garden Club which recently celebrated its fiftieth anniversary.
Bill loved colorful clothing and enjoyed being Santa during the holidays at the Ladera Country Shopper. He was an active participant in local government and always wore a flag pin on his label.
Documenting life and times in the Town of Portola Valley, California