Lois Murphy: A Farmgirl with a Big Heart

April 14, 2020

Lois Murphy didn’t think she had a story to tell until she started talking. It turns out she has met three U.S. Presidents, won awards, plus had a life of caring for others and working hard.

“I was always a person who liked to work. I was born in the Depression and wanted to get a job,” says Lois. She grew up in Winters, California – farm country. “By the time I was 7, I had a job picking up figs off the ground. Then, I packed figs until I was 10. I was really a farmgirl!”

Working in between school, Lois’s jobs added up. “At 12, I got a job at the dime store. At 15, the drug story lady took me away from the dime store. Then I went to work in the ice cream parlor,” says Lois. Next, it was to the insurance business up the street. “It was so much fun because I knew everyone in town.”

One of the town people was Tom, a high school football and basketball star. “He was like, unattainable,” says Lois. Nevertheless, he asked her out. After she left to attend college in Sacramento, her mother had a nervous breakdown and Lois came home to look after her. It was then that she and Tom decided to get married and Tom got called up for duty in Korea. They upped their wedding date from spring to January.

Lois was 20 when her husband came back. Unable to have children, they adopted two – a brother and sister. Then 18 months later, she had a baby! When her youngest was 5, Tom was killed in a car accident and her father was dying of cancer.

Her dad ran the Paradise Park Masonic Club in Santa Cruz, so Lois and her 3 children moved there to help. One day, her children met two children whose father, Frank, was a widower. “He had heart problems, had been given five years to live, and needed someone to look after his children.” Frank asked her to marry him. Still depressed about her dad and Tom, Lois said yes. They met in July, married in September, and then got to know each other. Frank worked in San Francisco, so they bought a house in Belmont and Lois enrolled her 5 children – aged 6 to 13 – into school.

Still a farmgirl at heart, Lois started a local 4H chapter. Soon the chapter had a farm, 150 members, a dance, and a scholarship program. She ran it for years and won many volunteering awards! Through connections at 4H, she was hired by then Supervisor and later Congressman Bill Royer to run his office. She had fun in that job and met President Regan, first President Bush, and President Carter. She was also on the San Mateo Fair Board, their Livestock Advisory Committee, and the Board of Directors for the Cow Palace.

Her husband Frank, who had expected to live 5 years, lived 11 and then one morning, he didn’t wake up.

Time passed and Lois met a man named Joe. He invited her out and they hit it off. “Then I married him!” exclaims Lois. “He was the sweetest man. I called him the love of my life.” She and Joe bought an RV and traveled all over the US. Joe had a surgery and never fully recovered, then quite suddenly passed away from an aortic aneurysm. “Thank goodness I’ve always had my children close,” says Lois.

“In 2012, I met this man online. And what a cutie!” She and Cliff got along beautifully, and Lois’s daughter encouraged her to move in with him. “When he heard he said, ‘Oh great! You want to get married?’ And I said ‘No, my attorney told me if I ever got married again, he’d shoot me!” laughs Lois. They traveled all over. Cliff’s daughter said he’d never been happier. Just last, year he died of pancreatic cancer.

Lois’s daughter did not want her living alone so they visited Sterling Court and it was just right. The apartments were bigger than other places and her youngest daughter lives just up the road. Now, in her cozy apartment, Lois is looking forward to her 88th birthday.

Lois is right. She didn’t have a story to tell… It is an epic!

Springtime Salutations!

April 2, 2020

What “springs” to mind when we think of April (besides, of course, that it’s National Adopt-a-Ferret Month?! Instead, let’s go with “April showers” – sprinkling tidbits of all-things April, ushering in the month by highlighting special days, sharing a few wonderful quotes, and suggesting fun events to enjoy. A lovely April to all!

April 1: April Fool’s Day and National Walking Day.

Don’t be a fool! Put on your walking shoes and take a stroll through nature today. And if today doesn’t work for you, you can always join the Sterling Walkers on Fridays at 11am to enjoy some fresh air!

April 2: International Children’s Book Day and National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day.

Cat in the Hat? Where the Wild Things Are? The Little Prince? Gather a few friends and reminisce about your most beloved books as a kid – or that you read to your kids and grandkids. And what could go better with childhood memories than a P & J sandwich!

April 7: Full Pink Moon.

This will be the closest – and thereby the largest – supermoon of the year. Make sure to go outside tonight, take a look up at that bright lunar orb in the sky, and enjoy what’s sure to a be a beautiful evening.

April 9: Happy Birthday, Winston Churchill!

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

April 13: Scrabble Day.

Yay! Who doesn’t love a good game of Scrabble! And it just so happens to be Game day today at 1:00 p.m. in the Bristol Room. Come on down, spell out some words, and get your game on!

April 22: Earth Day.

Whether it’s sitting out in the lovely courtyard here at Sterling Court or going for a walk in one the many gorgeous parks here on the Peninsula, be sure to treat yourself to some fresh air and spend some quality time with this beautiful, precious planet of ours.

April 23: Shakespeare’s birthday.

Happy 456th, William! Get thee to the library – or Google – and celebrate this brilliant scribe by reciting a sonnet or two!

April 27: Babe Ruth Day.

“Never let the thought of striking out get in your way.”

April 29: Honoring Alfred Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock was one of the most influential filmmakers of all time – Rear Window, Vertigo, The Birds (filmed right here in Bodega Bay in 1963) to name a few. Which is your favorite? Strike up a conversation with friends, perhaps even suggest having a Hitchcock movie night!

George Pappas: From Brooklyn to Berkeley and Beyond!

March 16, 2020

Born in Brooklyn, George Pappas still has a hint of a New York accent, but he has come a long way since then. He did most of his growing up in Manhasset, a small town on the North Shore of Long Island, during the Great Depression and World War II. In fact, he had expected to go to war.

“The high school built an obstacle course and we did 45 minutes of Navy calisthenics every day. We were all prepared to go into the service,” remembers George. Instead, the war ended and a year later when he was 18 his family moved to San Francisco. His parents had already lived there.

George’s father Louis was born in Greece. When he was just 13, he traveled alone to meet a cousin in Virginia and learned to be a candymaker. In 1907, the year after the earthquake, Louis moved to San Francisco and opened a candy store. Eventually, he wrote to his father back in Greece to say he was ready to marry. The next year, Louis went to Greece and married a young woman named Panagiota (Pauline, once she was here). They came to California for a while but Pauline wanted to live near family out East, so they moved to New York and raised their three sons.

Once the family was back in San Francisco, George decided to take some time before starting college and worked assisting a candymaker at his uncle’s store, The Red Poppy Candy Story on Polk Street. “They made all kinds of candies, jellies, and chocolates,” remembers George. After three years, George enrolled at UC Berkeley studying business administration and finance. He graduated in 1954 with an MBA in Finance. He then spent two years in the service, first in officer training and then at Nike Missile Bases in Washington State as a finance officer.

Back in civilian life, George went to work at Wells Fargo in San Francisco analyzing stocks and bonds, got married, and moved to Orinda. George and his first wife had two wonderful children: Andrea, an Art History Professor at Santa Clara University, and Clark who has three children and is a National Director at Canine Companions for Independence in Sebastopol.

After Wells Fargo, George joined Lawrence Berkeley and Livermore Labs where he became Budget Director and later Associate Laboratory Director for Administration. He stayed there until his retirement.

George and his second wife Nancy traveled the world. They went to England, Europe, Asia, Australia, British Columbia, bike tours of Brittany and Normandy, plus took seven cruises. On an 8-week trip to France and England, they rented a cottage in the Cotswolds and had friends visit. George enjoyed one of his passions: playing tennis against highly competitive team players. George and Nancy were married for 30 years and shared many unforgettable moments. She passed away just over three years ago.

When it was time to move again, George chose Sterling Court to be closer to his Peninsula friends and received excellent recommendations. “The food is good. And the people are pleasant and interesting,” he says. George may be retired but he still has a full computer setup and well-used desk for staying involved.

George’s life advice? “Live in the present and enjoy every day.” It’s obvious that this world-traveling Brooklyn Boy has lived by those words.

Celebrate Women’s History Month!

March 3, 2020

Ah March! The wonderful month that ushers in springtime, longer days, more sunshine (for all of us up here in the Northern Hemisphere anyway 😉), and … Women’s History! Shining a light on the incredible impact women have made throughout history – Marie Curie, Jane Austen, Rosa Parks, Rosie the Riveter, Maya Angelou, perhaps your mother or grandmother 😊 to name a few – Women’s History Month salutes both notable and “ordinary” women as it’s impossible to explore certain parts of history without remembering the vision of the women driving it. WHM began in 1978 right here in California, up north in Sonoma as National Women’s Week, and eventually morphed into a month-long celebration. We’re being summoned to honor women and to teach young people, especially young girls, about the powerful role women have played in history, inspiring everyone to dream about how they can fulfill their true potential. No matter if you’re a woman or a man, the most important thing we can achieve in life is to be the best person we can and positively influence the world. Here are a few suggestions on how to pay homage to women and the feminine spirit – past, present, and future.

Write a letter to an inspiring woman in your life.
Put pen to paper and express your gratitude to a woman – a personal connection or a public figure – who truly guided you in your life, inspired you to do your best. If possible, send it to her. If not, sit quietly with your words and then store the letter to memorialize your sentiments to all remarkable women.

Explore.
Empower yourself with the story of a remarkable woman … like the one showing right here in the Revere Room on Thursday March 5 and 12 at 2:45pm: Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. (Did you know that this top leading lady was also a talented inventor who created a radio system that is now considered the basis of Bluetooth technology?!) Grab a friend and go see a free screening on March 23 at the San Carlos Public Library of Hidden Figures, 7-8:30pm: “Three African American women at NASA serve as the brains behind a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world.” Or simply cozy up with a book about a pioneering female figure who inspires.

Celebrate family.
Delve into your personal history, reach out to friends and relatives and have a memory-lane chat with them, embracing a deeper understanding of your family’s roots and evolution, and how certain women in your life have influenced who you are today.

Encourage the young.
Inspiring up-and-coming girls in the world today to grow into strong, independent women tomorrow is just as important as celebrating the incredible women of the past. WHM is the perfect opportunity to invite your daughters, granddaughters – any of the beloved girls in your life – for a visit. Any sort of gathering will do! Swap stories, share wisdom from the elders to the youth … and vice versa! Happy Women’s History Month!

Kris Creates Beauty & Appreciates the Little Things

February 19, 2020

Kristin (Kris) E. Kirk loves creating and surrounding herself with beauty, which makes sense when you hear her past professions – beautician and flower arranger – and when you see her apartment! Her home is surrounded in animal prints, soft lighting, and just a little sparkle.

“I enjoy the moments of life. Every moment I’m here is a present,” says Kris, hinting that there is a lot more to her story.

Her parents, Neil and Janet Daniels, married before her dad left to serve in World War II. He became a B-17 pilot, flying 29 bombing missions over Germany. In the meantime, her mom worked as a “Rosie the Riveter”. On his return, they moved to Burbank, California where Kris was born and then her family moved to Denver. But the mile-high climate didn’t agree with her dad, who was then a United Airlines pilot, so the family headed to Los Altos, which “was just a little village then,” says Kris.

Kris married when she was just 18 and fresh out of high school. The marriage didn’t last – but she did discover a true love. “I went to Beauty College in Palo Alto and I was a natural!” says Kris. She was a hairdresser for 20 years and prided herself on pleasing her clients and listening to what they wanted. She even had her own salon in Palo Alto called House of Hair Styling.

Along the way she met and married her second husband, but their union was short-lived. He left before their son Jeffrey was born. She moved to Walnut Creek when a friend offered a home. “It was the late 1960s and he knew I was in a predicament,” says Kris. She pauses and says, “I’ve lived a real life, not a fairytale.” Her third husband lasted a lot longer and she was able to enjoy raising her child. Jeffrey now lives in Ohio with his wife, daughter, and stepdaughter. Kris is happy that she has been able to set up a college fund for her granddaughter.

Years of salon chemicals took their toll on Kris’s hands and she needed to change professions. Luckily, she discovered flower arranging and worked for Ah Sam, creating hundreds of arrangements. But life had another curveball in store.

After years of looking after others but not herself and catching fast-food meals on the run, Kris had a major stroke at just 59 years old. Her right arm was useless, and she had to relearn almost everything, but she laughs saying, “The physical therapist forced me to recover. She said, ‘You can swear all you want to!’ but she made me do the exercises. I promised God that I’d never eat another pizza.” That was 14 years ago, and it appears she has kept the promise regaining the use of her right arm and losing 100 pounds in 3 years.

Kris appreciates every day now and takes delight in the little things. She’s also quick to say how much she loves living at Sterling Court. The location makes it easy to walk downtown plus it’s close to her doctors. Kris loves the dining room and says the chef has a French flair and obviously “believes in people being healthy!” She also enjoys working out in the exercise room. Plus, her expert’s eye is impressed by the modern flower arrangements and the landscaping. She likes how people personalize their doors with decorations – hers has a zebra-print mini-wreath. She even compliments the cleaning staff!

To relax, Kris curls up by her window overlooking two sturdy oak trees and either reads a mystery or watches one on PBS. And when she’s feeling inspired, a trip to nearby Michaels craft store helps satisfy her need to create something beautiful.

Learn More

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850 N. El Camino Real San Mateo, CA 94401 Phone: (650) 344-8200 Fax: (650) 344-7395 sarah.stcharles@sterlingcourt.com

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