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In Memoriam: Jean Lane

Dec 21 2017

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Jean and Bill Lane at "Walking the Farm", a 23.5-mile trek of the perimter of Stanford lands. (LA Cicero, Stanford News Service)

Jean and Bill Lane in 2007 at “Walking the Farm”, a 23.5-mile trek of the perimeter of Stanford lands.   LA Cicero, Stanford News Service

Earlier this month, Jean Lane, the conservationist, philanthropist, gardener, and wife of the Center’s benefactor L.W. “Bill” Lane Jr., passed away at the age of 87.

Mrs. Lane was a tireless advocate of environmental education and conservation, and an active community presence in her home town of Portola Valley. “She was the more quiet member of the Lane duo,” as the town’s former Mayor Steve Toben told the Almanac, “but she was no less emphatic than Bill about civic duty and the obligation of generosity to her community. The countless gifts the Lanes made over many decades always bore both Bill and Jean’s names.”

David M. Kennedy, the founding co-director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West, expressed gratitude “for all she has done over so many years to support Jasper Ridge, the Bill Lane Center for the American West, and countless other Stanford initiatives. And I want to add special thanks for the unfailing grace and style that have been the hallmarks of her generosity. Future generations of Stanford students, teachers, and researchers may not have the precious privilege of knowing her in person, but they will surely join me in gratitude for her vision and commitment.”

Raised in Lincoln, Illinois, Mrs. Lane married Bill Lane in 1955. She was by her husband’s side as he worked as the publisher of Sunset Magazine, the U.S. ambassador-at-large to the First International Ocean Exposition in Japan during the Ford administration, and the U.S. ambassador to Australia during the Reagan administration. Mr. Lane died in 2010.

“Future generations of Stanford students, teachers, and researchers may not have the precious privilege of knowing her in person, but they will surely join me in gratitude for her vision and commitment.”
– David M. Kennedy

She was a founding member of the Westridge Garden Club of Portola Valley, a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Tropical Botanical Garden, a board member of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C, a member of the Governing Board of Filoli Center and a member of the President's Cabinet at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. She was also a long-time docent and supporter of Stanford's Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve where she loved to take people on hikes to observe the native plants and wildlife.

She is survived by her daughters, Sharon Louise Lane of North San Juan, California, and Brenda Lane Munks of Portola Valley; her son Robert Laurence Lane of Atherton; brother Arthur Gimbel of San Mateo; and five grandchildren.

Her family invites well-wishers to please send contributions in memory of Donna Jean Lane to:

National Tropical Botanical Garden
3530 Papalina Road
Kalaheo, HI 96741


Read more about Bill and Jean Lane’s Legacy with the Center


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