We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Kirke Comstock, former Palo Alto Mayor and founding Board Member of Committee for Green Foothills.
In an attempt to honor Kirke’s legacy, it is almost impossible to sum up the depth and breadth of his contributions to the preservation of open space here on the Peninsula. From negotiating the purchase of Palo Alto’s 1400-acre Foothills Park from the Russell Lee family, thus halting early plans to allow Palo Alto to develop its scenic backdrop all the way to Skyline, to thwarting early proposals for industrial parks in the Baylands, Kirke was a tireless champion for protection our region’s natural landscapes.
Together with his wife, Dorothy Brand Comstock, Kirke joined the Board of Committee for Green Foothills the year it was founded – 1962. The catalyst for their concern was a 252-acre development in the Palo Alto foothills, which was only one of untold numbers of similar efforts around the San Francisco Bay Area to sprawl over farmland, scenic hillsides and the Bay. Together with a “small group of thoughtful, committed citizens,” Kirke was instrumental in helping preserve much of the Peninsula’s beautiful open vistas that we enjoy today.
Kirke Comstock’s legacy is prodigious – he took on innumerable threats to open space in his lifetime of public service. To Committee for Green Foothills’ Board and staff today, the threats he faced head-on are also very familiar. In many ways, the same development pressures still loom.
The job of saving open space is never done. Over and over again, plans to chop it up, level it, and pave it over are stopped by committed individuals like Kirke Comstock. How fitting, that in his passing, Kirke and his family ask that donations be made in his name to Committee for Green Foothills. We are incredibly grateful for his last gift to open space, and for his lifetime of service.