Obituaries | January 6, 2017 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Community Pulse - January 6, 2017


Sidney Drell

Sidney Drell, former deputy director of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, died at his Palo Alto home on Dec. 21. He was 90.

He was born on Sept. 13, 1926, in Atlantic City, New Jersey. He attended Princeton University, where he earned his bachelor's degree in 1946 and his master's degree in 1947. He obtained his doctorate in physics from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1949.

After earning his doctorate, he began his career as a physics teacher at Stanford University in 1950. He later worked as a researcher and assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before returning to Stanford in 1956 as a professor of physics. He served as deputy director of the SLAC lab from 1969 until his retirement in 1998.

His research focused on quantum electrodynamics, which describes interactions between light and matter, and quantum chromodynamics, the investigation of quarks and gluons, which are subatomic particles. He and associate Tung-Mow Yan created the Drell-Yan Process, which became an important tool in particle physics.

He also was well-known for his dedication to arms control, a commitment that spanned more than 50 years. As an opponent to nuclear proliferation, he served on many panels advising Congress, the intelligence community and the military. Additionally, he was a founding member of JASON, a group of scientists created to advise the government on issues of national security and defense; a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board from 1992 to 2001; the co-founder of the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford; and in 2006 he and former Secretary of State George P. Shultz began a program at the Hoover Institution with a mission to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Over the course of his life, he received many awards including the National Medal of Science (2011); the Enrico Fermi Award; a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation; the Heinz Award; the Rumford Medal; and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal.

In addition to his distinguished academic and professional career, he was also an accomplished violinist. He played chamber music throughout his life and enjoyed the St. Lawrence String Quartet.

He is survived by his wife, Harriet, of Palo Alto, and his children, Daniel of Falls Creek, Virginia, Persis of Stanford and Joanna of Richmond, Virginia.

The family has no requests for donations and memorial plans are forthcoming.

Helen Mickelwait

Longtime Palo Alto resident Helen Mickelwait died on Dec. 3. She was 98.

She was born in San Francisco on Nov. 12, 1918, to Janette and Oscar Rastad, two Norwegian immigrants. She grew up in the Sunset District, learning to drive on the sand dunes of Ocean Beach.

When she was in her 30s, she met Kenneth Mickelwait while attending folk dancing classes at Chang's in North Beach. Together, they shared a love of dancing and hiking in the High Sierra. They were married in Berkeley in 1949 and made San Francisco their home before moving to Palo Alto in the early 1950s.

In Palo Alto, they raised two daughters, Kirsten and Janet. In 1956, her husband, who was working for the Stanford Research Institute, was transferred to Madras, India. The family spent a year living there.

In the mid-1960s, she returned to school and earned her teaching credential in early childhood education. She then became the longtime director of the First Congregational Church Nursery School. Later, her love of numbers led her to bookkeeping positions at the Peninsula Times-Tribune and the First Congregational Church.

Over the years, she and her husband enjoyed hiking, backpacking with friends, square dancing, discussion groups and cultural events.

In 1999 they moved into Channing House, where they joined an active group of friends in retirement. Though later in life she slowly lost some physical and mental capabilities, her family remembers that her continued interest, compassion and attentive friendship ensured that she was loved by all.

She is predeceased by her husband, Ken Mickelwait, and survived by her sister, Thelma Schiller; daughters, Kirsten Mickelwait and Janet (Russ) Peterson; and grandchildren, Hadley and Macklin Bickford.

Family and friends are invited to a celebration of her life at 3 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 28, at the First Congregational Church, 1985 Louis Road, Palo Alto.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council or the Sierra Club.

Hubert R. Marshall

Hubert R. Marshall, longtime political science teacher at Stanford University, died on Dec. 7 from respiratory complications at a retirement home in Mill Valley. He was 96.

Born Jan. 16, 1920, in Chicago, Illinois, he grew up Presbyterian and earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. While there, he embraced pacifism and, during World War II, he refused to serve in the military. Instead, he spent the war years in work camps, doing basic road work and managing national forests.

During his time at Antioch, he served on the race relations committee and, after seeing the effects of segregation and discrimination in Yellow Springs, he was spurred to action, pressuring local businesses to end discriminatory practices. He also met his future wife, Rachelle Marshall, while at Antioch. They were married in Yellow Springs in 1947.

In 1947, the couple moved to North Carolina, where Hubert earned a doctorate degree in political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While in North Carolina, the Marshalls supported prominent civil rights leaders like Bayard Rustin, an adviser of Martin Luther King, Jr.

For a short time, Marshall taught at the University of Florida followed by working on the program-planning staff of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Then, in 1953, he came to teach at Stanford University, where he would spend most of his career.

While at Stanford, he taught a class called Major Issues of American Public Policy for approximately 37 years until retiring in 1990. In 1985, he received the Walter J. Gores Award, Stanford's highest award for excellence in teaching.

After retiring, he and his wife lived in their home on Stanford's campus until 2010, when they moved to a retirement home closer to their son.

He is survived by his wife, Rachelle Marshall of Mill Valley; their son, Jonathan Marshall (Lorrie Goldin) of San Anselmo; and grandchildren Ishmael and Vita Wallace of New York City, New York, Katherine Marshall of Long Beach and Jennifer Marshall of San Francisco.

The Weekly's commemoration of notable Palo Alto figures who passed away in 2016 can be found online at


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