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March 18, 2005

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Publication Date: Friday, March 18, 2005

Mary Lou Zoglin, 1928-2005 Mary Lou Zoglin, 1928-2005 (March 18, 2005)

Hundreds gather to honor former mayor

By Jon Wiener

Mary Lou Zoglin, the elder stateswoman on the city council for two consecutive terms, was walking down Castro Street behind a pair of residents discussing city politics. Zoglin listened to their grumbling and was tickled to hear one of them say, "But you can always count on the old lady."

Zoglin's friend Annabelle Baley shared that story with 250 of the late council member's friends and colleagues Tuesday morning, at a memorial ceremony at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts.

"I think that would be a good epitaph for her," said Baley. "You could always count on Mary Lou."

Zoglin, 76, succumbed Friday to the cancer she had fought privately throughout her second term on council. A native of the Dutch community in York, Pa., she had a long track record of public service and was recognized by her council colleagues as a dedicated servant without an agenda. "She was a pioneer, but she did not have a cause," said her son John Zoglin.

Zoglin won her first election to the Foothill-De Anza Community College District in 1960, where she served until 1974. She later became the dean of Coastline Community College in Orange County before moving to Mountain View in 1994, where she would serve on the planning commission and lead all candidates in votes in the 1996 and 2000 city council elections.

As a council member, Zoglin pushed to improve youth services and build new recreation facilities.

Friends, family members and officials from various levels of government told anecdotes and shared lessons on Tuesday about their time with the deceptively diminutive woman.

"I was always amused when someone made assumptions about Mary Lou based on her size, her gender or her age," said City Manager Kevin Duggan. He added that her legacy will continue to grow as the city completes many of the projects she championed.

Mountain View Mayor Matt Neely remembered walking in to file papers for his first council race and Zoglin advising him to remove a Chairman Mao pin from his bag.

State Assembly member Sally Lieber told of the mentoring in diplomacy and cuisine she received from Zoglin while at a conference in Washington, D.C. during her rookie council year.

County Supervisor Liz Kniss, who was mayor of Palo Alto in 1999 while Zoglin held the same post in Mountain View, compared her tenacity to that of a terrier.

As her illness worsened last year, Zoglin began leaving council meetings early to rest. One evening last spring, she collapsed in the middle of a meeting. Yet Zoglin continued to stay active in civic life. While serving on the council, she interviewed the candidates to replace her before deciding whom to support.

Earlier in her life, Zoglin had been an avid traveler, living in Belgium on a Fulbright scholarship, hiking among Mayan ruins and visiting far-flung countries across the globe. Everywhere she went, recalled her friend and fellow traveler Baley, she grabbed a newspaper in an attempt to get a feel for the flavor of the local community. Baley often caught her reading the obituaries section, a habit Zoglin said "just tells you everything about people."

"Mary Lou was the kind of friend we all want: completely steadfast, completely generous," said Baley.

She is survived by her sons, John, 48, and Billy, 44; her daughter, Katie, 46; and twin granddaughters.

Donations can be made to the city to go towards Healthy Ventures, the nonprofit where she volunteered as the executive director. A remembrance book is available for the public to sign at the city clerk's office at 500 Castro St.

E-mail Jon Wiener at

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