Marian Atcheson: A Long Legacy in San Mateo

November 9, 2018

On a sunny afternoon, I met Marian Atcheson and her daughter, Catherine, and we had a wonderful time walking down memory lane spanning several generations. Marian first joined Sterling Court a year ago, but only became a full-time resident 2 months ago. She has been an active community member of San Mateo for almost 6 decades!

Our conversation began with her sharing that her great-grandfather had emigrated from Germany and became a rancher in Mertzon, Texas. Her dad, one of three children, graduated from MIT and then returned to Mertzon to run the family ranch – and this is where Marian’s story starts. From a young age, she was raised to be an independent girl. At just 5 years old, she told me the story of how she would walk a mile every day to a bus stop, then ride 16 miles to school, and then have to wait with the janitor in the basement for school to open. Early on she learned how to ride horses, and relayed a story about a time she was riding bareback with a friend and her horse was bitten by a rattlesnake and took off at a full gallop. She hung on for dear life and somehow managed to stay aboard and uninjured, although the horse later died.

After graduating from the Hockaday School in Dallas, Marian went to Pine Manor College in Boston to study art. There, she went on a blind date with a Stanford graduate who was attending Harvard Law School, and although subsequent dating interrupted her studies, it turned into a 30-year marriage. Dave and Marian moved to California, and she has been here ever since. They had 3 wonderful children – Catherine, whom I had the pleasure of meeting, is a scientist living in Alameda; Jim, an engineer who went back to the Texas family ranch and still runs it today; and Carol, a 6-foot-tall fashion model who lives in Paris. Together there are 4 grandchildren, 2 close-by in Alameda and 2 in Paris. Marian is 5’11” and her husband was 6’7”, and Marian was quick to share that not only is her younger daughter 6’ tall, but her son is 6’4” and her two grandsons are over 6’8”!

When Marian first came to San Mateo she was a stay-at-home mom, and then got into the travel business, working at Town & Country Travel in San Mateo for 30 years. She specialized in honeymoon travel and traveled all around the world – with a particular love of Europe. “You name it, I was there,” was Marian’s response to my question of where she went.

Marian was also a pivotal force behind the Decorators’ Show House, a much anticipated annual event designed to raise money for the Coyote Point Museum in San Mateo. For several years, Marian served as the president and chairman of the board of the Coyote Point Auxiliary, which hosts this prestigious event. Marian has deep roots here and still has her lovely home just a few blocks away in San Mateo Park.

After her 30-year marriage, she had a 31-year relationship with a wonderful man, Dick Seward, who passed away two years ago. Recently, she decided that taking care of the San Mateo Park property was just too much. When asked why she selected Sterling Court for the next chapter in her life, location was clearly a factor – having spent the past 60 years in this great town. She also expressed how important it is being with other like-minded people and living a life with a sense of community.

You may find Marian hovering over a crossword puzzle, playing bridge or dominoes, or at one of the lectures. And, if you have a favorite book, do let her know, as reading is a favorite pastime.

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