The Coastal Post - July 1999

Joan C. Reutinger

By Don Deane

A very good and dear friend Joan Reutinger passed on last Tuesday night, June 23. She was 83. Joan was the grand lady who served for 24 years as the executive editor of the Coastal Post. Coming out of her school teacher's retirement at the age of 60, she joined the paper in the first year of its founding and evolved into a first-rate journalist who was the editorial backbone of the publication until last year.

Joan loved Stinson Beach and West Marin. She immersed herself in the intricacies of its meetings, people and history. She was instrumental in the founding of the Stinson Beach Village Association. She covered the Bolinas-Stinson School meetings, the Stinson Water Board, the Board of Supervisors. She tracked local and county elections. She wrote a history of Stinson Beach-Memories of Willow Camp.

She loved to see the golden glow of the Bolinas Ridge at the sunset on walks along Brighton Beach after the paper was pasted up for another week or month. She was a fine and wonderful person who left Stinson Beach and Bolinas better for having been here.

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West Marin historian and journalist Joan C. Reutinger died June 23 at her home in Stinson Beach following a long illness. She was 83.

Born in England, she first stepped onto the sands of Stinson Beach in 1920 at the age of five during a visit to her maternal grandparents, who had moved to the Bay Area following the 1906 earthquake. It was the start of a lifelong passion for the rural coastal life of west Marin County.

After a childhood spent between England and California, she earned her BA and MA at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied under famed Berkeley music professor Albert Elkus and majored in music with a minor in English literature. She also served as captain of the U.C. women's tennis team. In her senior year at Cal, she was the piano soloist for the West Coast premiere of Ernst Bloch's "Concerto Grosso for Orchestra with Piano Obligato," with the composer himself conducting.

Over the years, she taught piano and music history, both in Berkeley and San Diego, where she moved following her marriage (and Stinson Beach honeymoon) in 1937 to fellow Cal graduate student and native San Diegan Otto W. Reutinger.

During the 30 years she and her husband lived in San Diego and raised their three children, she also taught English at a small private college, at night school and for nine years at Point Loma High School. A life member of the San Diego local musicians union, she was well known as one of two principal piano accompanists for professional recitals in San Diego from the late 1940s until the 1960s. She also was an avid supporter of the San Diego Symphony, the La Jolla Chamber Orchestra and various Southern California music groups.

However, it was during the second half of her life, after she and her husband made the unusual California retirement move north to Stinson Beach in 1969, that she found a second career and her true calling: historical journalism.

In 1975, she became one of the founding members of the Bolinas-based Coastal Post, an investigative periodical reporting the news of the Marin coastal communities of Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, Bolinas, Olema and Dog Town. Appointed executive editor in 1976, she spent the next 20 years chronicling the daily events, politics and rich history of the rural landscape that has been home to Miwok Indians, Spanish explorers, Mexican landgrant holders, Russian fur traders, Portuguese dairy farmers, lumbermen, artists, rock musicians, writers, filmmakers, socialites, New Age Bohemians and other close-knit enclaves of residents who all have shared an intense passion for the rugged, bucolic beauty of West Marin.

During the 1970s and 1980s, she also served as a certified paramedic for the Stinson Beach Volunteer Ambulance Corps and was an active supporter of the Stinson Beach Allied Arts and Village associations, the Stinson Beach/Bolinas School District and the Stinson Beach Library.

In 1993, at the age of 78, she published Memories of Willow Camp: A Personal History of Stinson Beach, in which she noted that "Camp" (as Stinson Beach was known from 1880 to 1916) became the spiritual home to her grandparents in 1907 and, subsequently, to all of their descendants as well. Now in its second printing, the colorful

historical volume continues to be a bestseller at Stinson Beach Books.

Her husband died in 1996. Survivors include sons Marty (and daughter-in-law Elisa) of Albany and Christopher of Malibu, daughter Annie (and son-in-law Jay Clark) of Oakland, and granddaughters Anna and Eva of Albany, as well as "adopted" daughter Randi Kjeldstad of Oslo, Norway.

A celebration of the life of Joan Reutinger will take place at the Stinson Beach Community Center, (date to be determined, probably in August around the time of her birthday). In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be sent to: The Bolinas/Stinson Beach Library Improvement Society, Attn.: The Joan and Otto Reutinger History Corner (PO Box 65, Stinson Beach, CA 94970) or the Senior Services Center of West Marin County (PO Box 791, Pt. Reyes, CA 94956).

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