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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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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

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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 ad...

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A tale of two sisters: Local residents chronicle wartime experiences


Courtesy of the Wortz Family
Growing up in North Carolina, little did sisters Eleanor and Jean Thompson know that they would one day document their trailblazing.

Sisters Eleanor and Jean Thompson eventually settled in the South Bay, but their roadmaps to retirement took many twists and turns.

Eleanor and Jean grew up in the 1930s in the small town of Spencer, N.C., noted for its tree-lined streets and friendly atmosphere, with their brother Julian. Jean, five years younger than Eleanor, remembers feeling that her siblings thought she was “a pain in the neck,” the tagalong. But she is quick to explain that she always looked up to and loved them.

Eleanor’s life seemed interesting and exciting to Jean. Eleanor’s strong independent spirit motivated her to earn a pilot’s license, unusual for a female in the 1940s. When the opportunity arose, she joined the WASP (Women’s Airforce Service Pilots), the first women in history to pilot military airplanes.

One summer, when Eleanor was stationed at Love Field in Texas, Jean stayed in the nearby town and became the chauffeur for the flying WASP, driving her sister and others back and forth to the field for their flights, giving her a sense of being part of the corps.

Jean followed the family tradition and attended Spencer High School and Catawba College for two years, but then showed her blossoming independence by matriculating at the University of North Carolina, the first in her family to go away to college. She became a “Government Girl” stationed in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and London.

Jean married Col. Thomas M. “Mac” Barrick. The career Army officer and World War II veteran was deployed to the Korean War five weeks after the wedding. Jean and eventually their children, Carol and Thomas McClellan Barrick Jr., moved 18 times in 23 years, living in Europe and Asia as Mac’s postings dictated.

When Mac retired in 1976, the family headed west, where Eleanor, her husband James Howard Wortz and their children had settled in Los Altos after World War II.

Separated for decades by wars, careers and marriages, the sisters reunited on the opposite side of the country – in Silicon Valley. They renewed their closeness as they shared events at the Woodland Vista Swim & Racquet Club in Los Altos, which Eleanor had organized and served as first president. The families gathered often and their children and now grandchildren became good friends instead of distant relatives.

Retirement, however, didn’t mean R&R for the Barricks, new Bay Area residents. They plunged into local activities, such as spearheading the successful citizens’ campaign to save the Heritage Orchard in Saratoga. Among her many community projects, Jean served as Green Circle facilitator for the Santa Clara County elementary schools, promoting diversity, tolerance and conflict resolution.

Lasting legacy

Encouraged to chronicle her unique experiences as one of the few women pilots in World War II, Eleanor began a book on the WASP. She found direction in the Mountain View Los Altos Adult Education Memoirs Writing Class at Hillview Community Center. In turn, as of old, it was the older sister who motivated Jean to join the class and record her interesting travels after leaving Spencer as a family history for their children and grandchildren.

Together after many decades, their roles gradually switched. It was Jean, the younger sister, who published her book first, “Tracks Out of Spencer: An Army Wife Remembers” (Xlibris Corp., 2004). It chronicles her “escape” from the small town to experience the international journeys of a military family.

Then Jean began to take the initiative for Eleanor. Although the WASP received many verbal accolades at the end of World War II, the U.S. government didn’t award the female pilots Congressional Gold Medals until 2010. Jean encouraged and enabled Eleanor to attend the local presentation in Los Gatos to accept her deserved recognition.

Experienced with the delays and minutia of finishing and publishing a book, Jean recognized that Eleanor was getting weaker and finding it more difficult to tie up her fascinating memoir. The little sister who always looked up to her older sister showed the same determination and command her sister had taught her.

Jean worked tirelessly to ensure that Eleanor would complete her book, “Fly Gals of World War II: Women Airforce Service Pilots” (Robertson Publishing, 2011), in time to enjoy the excitement and interest in the book. Eleanor died Aug. 18 at her home in Los Altos at the age of 92.

The sisters, who grew up during the Great Depression in a small southern railroad town, unused to seeing women work outside the home, showed their strong characters when the opportunities rose for each of them: fearless, determined, hardworking, successful and loyal to each other.

Los Altos resident Joan Garvin is enrolled in the Mountain View Los Altos Adult Education Memoirs Writing Class.

Are you a senior with a story to tell? Do you know a senior whose story would make an interesting subject for a profile? Email Bruce Barton at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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