Tue09302014

News

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Meet the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors candidates

Two candidates have filed to run for the District 7 seat on the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board of Directors in the Nov. 4 election. The water district, established in 1929, oversees and protects water resources in Santa Clara County....

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Schools

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities

New LAHS assistant principal focuses on school activities


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Suzanne Woolfolk, assistant principal at Los Altos High, teaches a leadership course for Associated Student Body leaders.

Suzanne Woolfolk – new assistant principal at Los Altos High School – said she is happy...

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Community

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival

Petting zoo, car show highlight Chamber's annual Fall Festival


Courtesy of Los Altos Chamber of Commerce
The petting zoo is a highlight of the Los Altos Fall Festival. This year’s event is slated Oct. 4 and 5.

The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its 23rd annual Fall Festival 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oc...

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Sports

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos

Burlingame bowls over Los Altos


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High halfback Sean Lanoza looks for running room against Burlingame in Saturday’s home opener.

The opening drive of Saturday’s game against Burlingame couldn’t have gone much better for the Los Altos High fo...

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Comment

Does Los Altos have a parking problem, or is it a symptom? : Other Voices

Yes, and yes. It appears that the downtown Los Altos parking problem is a symptom of the city’s “Sarah Winchester” approach to planning that instead of resulting in staircases to nowhere resulted in a hotel without parking required by code.(1)

From ...

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Special Sections

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market

Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market


Courtesy of Matthew Anello
The Shoup House dining room, above, features original elements. The 100-year-old house on University Avenue earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a nod to its legacy as the home of city founder Paul S...

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Business

Longtime banker readies for retirement

Longtime banker readies for retirement


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Joanne Kavalaris is retiring at the end of October after spending the past 25 years of her banking career in downtown Los Altos.

A longtime Los Altos banker is calling it a career in a few weeks.

Joanne Kavalaris, Bank o...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

Pear builds wonderful 'House'

Pear builds wonderful 'House'


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Betsy Kruse Craig portrays Trish in the Pear Avenue Theatre production of “House,” which closes Oct. 5.

Mountain View’s Pear Avenue Theatre is staging an unusual theater-going experience – producing two plays...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also add ...

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A story of suffering, love and faith: the life of Gil Ahrens

A little more than a decade ago, Gil Ahrens and his wife, Kim, had their lives upended by an automobile accident. The accident left Kim paralyzed and Gil badly injured. Although the accident was tragic, it gave them something that they treasure today – a deeper relationship with God and new perspective on why God allows suffering.

Gil describes the accident and events surrounding it in his book, “Shattered, Shaken and Stirred: Reconnecting with What Matters Most after Loss and Adversity” (Positano Press, 2009).

I had opportunities both to read his book and to sit down with Ahrens to discuss the accident and his Christian faith.

Ahrens grew up in Suffield, Conn., as did his father. His mother emigrated from Germany.

“Both parents were involved in the church and I was raised in the church,” Ahrens said.

He came to the Bay Area in 1990 and worked as a strategic planner with Sanyo before getting into finance and investment. His career has taken him to the investment heavyweights Piper Jaffray & Co. and JP Morgan Chase & Co. among others. Today, he works as a private banker with Citigroup Inc.

The accident

Ahrens, his wife, Kim, their 3-week old baby, Olivia, and Ahrens’ sister traveled to Colorado in October 2002 for the wedding of Ahrens’ cousin John. As they drove from the wedding reception, a car driven by a drunken teenage driver traveling at 95 miles per hour crossed the median strip and hit their car Ahrens was driving 60 miles per hour in the opposite direction.

“I could see this thing unfold,” Ahrens said. “Things seemed to slow down. The impact, I realized, was inevitable. I prayed, ‘Oh God, Oh God, save us.’ What is amazing is I palpably felt God’s presence. It’s chilling, even as I recount it. God said, ‘This is going to be bad, but don’t worry because I’ll be with you.’ And I didn’t just hear Him, I felt Him.

Miraculously, his baby and his sister were fine. Ahrens was injured but conscious and would fully recover. Kim, however, was severely injured. She shattered her leg and broke her neck. Within a few days, it was discovered that she had no movement from her shoulders down and the long rehabilitation process began.

Faith, friends and family

Over the next several months, many other issues had to be addressed – getting back to the Bay Area, getting the right medical care, dealing with insurance companies, coping with the financial challenges and having to move from their dream, multilevel San Francisco home, which Kim could not navigate. Friends and family rallied around the Ahrens and gave them love, prayers and support.

“The only way I kept from getting completely unwound and unglued was by throwing myself at God’s feet,” Ahrens wrote in his book.

With intense physical therapy, prayer and courage, Kim gradually regained feeling and movement well beyond what her doctors expected. Kim eventually regained enough movement to be able to drive a specially equipped vehicle and even ski with equipment adapted for her use.

“(Kim’s) growing freedom from within the confines of quadriplegia was directly correlated to her determination to work hard and to work with God,” Ahrens wrote. “More than anyone I knew, (Kim) did not just invite God into her life, she yielded her life to Him.  She let Him take over.”

God and suffering

Ahrens observes that everyone eventually experiences something bad, but what is most important is what we do when bad things happen to us. For Ahrens and his wife, the tremendous disruption in their lives and their suffering drew them closer to God.

In the conclusion, he writes: “The key to everything – to surviving, coping with loss, adapting to changed realities and managing to get by – is primarily an attitude defined by three words, Faith, Hope and Love. And that is how we find and reconnect with joy.”

Skip Vaccarello is a longtime Los Altos resident. For more information, visit findinggodinsiliconvalley.com. Interviews from this site will be used as part of an upcoming book.

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