BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
Jordan and Terman middle schools in Palo Alto could soon bear the name of a Silicon Valley luminary, the 19th-century “mother of Palo Alto schools” or a glass ceiling-breaking Stanford mathematician.
The Palo Alto school board decided in March to rename both schools because both of their namesakes, David Starr Jordan and Lewis Terman, advocated for eugenics. The Recommending School Names Advisory Committee has narrowed down a list of community recommendations to seven people and two geographic names, which they will present to the school board on March 13.
Ellen Fletcher, a Berlin-born Holocaust survivor, served on Palo Alto City Council for 12 years starting in 1977, but was never chosen to serve as mayor.
Fletcher, an environmentalist, was known to ride her bike with a trailer everywhere she went, including to council meetings. The city officially named Bryant Street the Ellen Fletcher Bicycle Boulevard.
Fletcher made her way to the U.S. in 1946 and to Palo Alto in 1959. She started advocating for bicycling as the safety chair of her local PTA from 1971 to 1974. She continued to ride her bike until shortly before her death of lung cancer on Nov. 7, 2012 at age 83.
A Fairchild engineer
Frank Greene was one of the first prominent black engineers in Silicon Valley. He developed high-speed semiconductor computer memory systems at Fairchild Semiconductor.
According to the Greene Scholars Program, Greene was among the first black students to attend Washington University in St. Louis, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
He held a doctorate in electrical engineering from Santa Clara University and a master’s degree from Purdue University. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force and became an Air Force captain.
He taught electrical engineering and computer science courses at Stanford, Santa Clara and Howard universities. Greene died in 2009 at age 71.
The Hewlett in Hewlett-Packard
Bill Hewlett co-founded Hewlett-Packard with David Packard in a garage at 367 Addison Ave. in 1939. Ironically, the two were engineering students of Fred Terman, whose father Lewis is of the namesakes the school district is seeking to leave behind.
The founding of Hewlett-Packard is considered to be one of the most important events in the history of Silicon Valley.
City’s first woman doctor
Edith Johnson was the first woman doctor in Palo Alto. She opened a medical practice in town in 1907. By the time she retired, she had delivered 3,500 babies, according to the Palo Alto Historical Association. Johnson died in 1966. She is already memorialized at Dr. Edith Eugenie Johnson Park at 268 Waverley St.
Maryam Mirzakhani was a theoretical mathematician at Stanford. In 2014, she became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, since its inception in 1936.
The Fields Medal is often equated in stature with the Nobel Prize, according to Stanford.
Mirzakhani joined the Stanford faculty in 2009. She died on July 14 at the age of 40 after a battle with breast cancer that had spread to her liver and bones.
Held in internment camp
Fred Yamamoto, a 1936 Palo Alto High School graduate, was held in Japanese internment camps in World War II, then died in combat.
Verde Magazine, a student publication at Palo Alto High School, reported in 2016 that Yamamoto was interned during World War II at the Santa Anita detention facility in Southern California and Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.
He enlisted in the military while at Heart Mountain and died in combat in France at age 26.
Mother of city’s schools
Anna Zschokke was a widowed German mother of three who lived in the first house built on Homer Street in the 19th century. She’s been dubbed Palo Alto’s first resident and the “mother of the Palo Alto schools” after she mortgaged her house, bought a lot and hired a contractor to build a three-room schoolhouse for high-schoolers.
The school board could also opt for the geographic names: Adobe Creek Middle School for Terman and Redwood Grove Middle School for Jordan. Adobe Creek, which flows from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the San Francisco Bay, grazes Terman at 655 Arastradero Road.
The photos in this story are from the archives of the Palo Alto Historical Association and PaloAltoHistory.org.