Gladys Stark, longtime resident of Los Altos Hills since 1960 and founding member of Congregation Beth Am, passed away on October 13, 2020 at the age of 97.
Gladys was born December 27, 1922 in Detroit, Michigan to parents, Rebecca (Ruth) and Victor Fink. She was the second oldest of four children. She was predeceased by her older sister, Evelyn Gersh (who died earlier this year at 99) and her two younger brothers, Fred Fink and Bernard Fink. The family moved to Mount Clemens, MI where Gladys spent her childhood.
Gladys met her future husband Marvin Stark when they were 17 years old. After Marvin graduated high school at 16, he left home in Brooklyn to work at a small hotel that was owned by his aunt in Mount Clemens. It was there that Gladys was introduced to Marvin. He was her first and only love; and she thought they would have good-looking children.
After Gladys and Marvin eloped in 1943, Marvin served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, Gladys and Marvin moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA. The Starks were the first married couple to graduate from UCLA after World War II.
Gladys began her teaching career in 1943 in the San Francisco public school system, while Marvin attended dental school at UCSF. After moving to Boston, Gladys taught in the Boston public schools, while Marvin did a fellowship at Harvard; she continued to teach when they moved back to the Bay Area in 1954 settling in Los Altos Hills where they were founding members of Congregation Beth Am and Gladys sang in the choir.
In 1967, Marvin was offered a position on Project HOPE and Gladys and Marvin took their 3 children to live in Cartagena, Columbia where Marvin led their dental team, while Gladys taught English in the local school. The stint was supposed to last 6 months, but was thwarted suddenly when Gladys contracted viral encephalitis which left her in a coma for nearly two months.
Miraculously, Gladys made a complete recovery --having to relearn to walk, talk and perform basic life skills. She went on to pursue a master’s degree, become foreign student advisor at Santa Clara University and an ESL teacher at Evergreen Community College. Her teaching career spanned more than 50 years.
When Marvin passed away in 2002, Gladys retired from teaching at the age of 80 allowing her to spend more time pursuing her lifelong hobbies: singing, playing bridge and gardening.
She was a master bridge player and sang weekly in three choirs: The Aurora Singers of Palo Alto, Hashirim and Congregation Beth Am’s choir. Well into her early 90’s, Gladys played bridge, sang in her choirs and travelled frequently with her children and grandchildren. She was a gracious and warm host to friends and family in her home in Los Altos Hills hosting bridge gatherings, dinner and backyard swim parties with her grandchildren.
Gladys will be remembered by her children and grandchildren for her lovely, kind and sweet demeanor. She never had an unkind word to say about anyone who came in her path and always looked for goodness in others. She was an elegant, graceful woman who had a keen eye for beautiful fashion and furnishings as reflected in her personal style and in her home. She was a devoted and caring wife to her husband of 57 years caring for him in his final years.
Gladys is survived by her two children, Susan Stark (Jerry Scher), Richard Stark (Annarosa Tomasi) and her five grandchildren, Jacqueline Scher, Rebecca Stark, Jonathan Scher, Michael Stark and Mia Scher.