Ambassador Bill Lane, Spirit of the West – 1919-2010

08.11.10 | Category: Valley History, Zen Earth

I was deeply saddened by the news of Amb. Bill Lane’s death. It’s hard to believe his larger-than-life presence has disappeared. But maybe it hasn’t.

As Shunryu Suzuki says in Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind:
“Life and death are the same thing. When we realize this fact, we have no fear of death…nor difficulty in life.”

In many ways, Bill Lane is the same in death as he was in life. Around the Lane history corner, at Stanford, his booming laughter echoes. In many of the open spaces he helped protect, his footprints still linger. Most of all, I believe his presence can still be felt at the Stanford Red Barn every time the sun sets. The Stanford Red Barn, a place core to Stanford and Silicon Valley history was a beloved place for him. Bill spear-headed the multi-million dollar campaign to save the barn, and he knew every inch of it and its history. In fact, that’s what I’ll miss most about Bill Lane – his exhaustive knowledge of Stanford, Bay Area, and California history. With his passing, we lose some of California’s secrets.

Bill was an ambassador, a philanthropist, an environmentalist, a publisher, a father, a family man, a friend to people in high places, a friend to humble folks, a friend to students, a friend to open spaces, a lover of diverse cultures.

There’s hundreds of articles about him. So I’m just posting a photo essay of some favorite and inspiring moments with him. I was honored to collaborate with Bill on an artistic project that he commissioned me to paint: “The Red Barn & Electioneer: Down History Lane.”

Amb. Bill Lane and Drue’s print: “The Red Barn and Electioneer Down History Lane”

“The Red Barn and Electioneer Down History Lane”

Bill Lane sunset Drue Kataoka
Bill at the Red Barn Festival with Drue – before the presentation of the print

Jean Lane and Drue

Bill Lane Drue Kataoka Svetlozar Kazanjiev
Drue, and husband Svetlozar Kazanjiev with Amb. Bill Lane at one of the Red Barn Festivals

Amb. Bill Lane and Drue - Horse in Motion book
Amb. Bill Lane shows Drue one of the original copies of “The Horse in Motion” and an amazing bottle of wine from Stanford’s collection

Jean and Bill Lane Sunset Magazine
Jean Lane and Bill Lane at Sunset Magazine

Bill Lane Red Barn - Drue's print
Drue’s print at the Red Barn

stanford red barn
Stanford Red Barn

Drue Kataoka Jean Lane
Playing Bach with Jean Lane at the Lane Home


5 Comments so far

  1. Tom W.

    Bill did so much for Stanford. Alumni around the world are mourning.

  2. Svetlozar

    Bill Lane will be greatly missed. A great man with extraordinary vision. He played a hugely positive role in Stanford, Silicon Valley and beyond.

  3. Don Knapp

    I met him once when he felt he had to do something about the medfly controversy – blanket spraying of malathion over the south bay. I think it was in 1980. Certainly, a responsible community leader.

  4. Bill Fenwick & Drue Kataoka

    Thank you Tom, Svetlozar and Don.

  5. Sue Young

    Thank you, Drue, for the tribute to this amazing man…..

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