Marsha Helene Alper
Feb. 27, 1944 – Sept. 8, 2017
Resident of Palo Alto
Marsha Helene Alper, cherished and devoted mother, wife, family member, and friend, died from a brief illness on September 8, 2017. She was preceded in death by her beloved son Josh Alper, who died in November 2013. She leaves behind her husband Theodore G. Alper, Ph.D., her daughter-in-law Annette Marines, her brother Arthur Seigel and his wife Lynne, brother-in-law Joseph Alper & his wife Linda, and an extended family of nieces, nephews, cousins, and a large community of friends.
Marsha was born on February 27, 1944 in Rome, Georgia, where her father was attending Berry College while serving in the Army. The family relocated to Jersey City, New Jersey where she attended P.S. 12 and Snyder High School. Marsha began college at Rutgers in Newark then transferred to UCLA to complete her bachelor’s degree in history in 1966. Marsha and Ted met at a Michigan State University fraternity house, while she was visiting a boyfriend, and married in January 1, 1966 (when UCLA beat Michigan State in the Rose Bowl and Marsha proclaimed “We’re Number 1,” in reference to their respective alma maters, while walking down the aisle). She lived briefly in Eugene, Oregon, where her husband was getting a doctorate in counseling psychology, then in 1969 moved to Palo Alto, which would remain home for most of the rest of her life.
Through the years, Marsha brought her interpersonal skills and knack for organization and customer service to many endeavors, but set it aside for years to raise her son Josh, who was born in 1973. She worked at the R&D Center for Education at Stanford University from 1971 to 1973. In 1980, she started an advertising specialties business, Word of Mouth, and sold it in 2000 when she moved abroad with her husband to London, England. After returning to Palo Alto in 2004, she worked at Williams Sonoma for several years. Marsha was also an avid volunteer throughout her life, giving her time to El Carmelo Elementary School, Palo Alto High School, Filoli historical house and gardens, and Bechtel International Center at Stanford. She was a member of many organizations including the Hempstead Women’s Club and the St. John’s Women’s Club.
Marsha enjoyed making a house a home and establishing community through friendships. She had a strong community of friends in Palo Alto and Castelnuovo Berardenga in Italy. Her commitment to people extended to the less fortunate and friends, especially supporting them in their time of need. Together with her husband and daughter-in-law, Marsha started the Joshua Alper Marines Foundation to help fund causes in the spirit of her son Josh, including setting up scholarships at University of California, Santa Cruz for students, supporting UCSC’s cycling team, donating funds to the Santa Cruz Homeless Garden Project, among other causes.
Marsha will be missed by all of those she encountered. A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday, September 12 at Congregation Beth Am at 2:00 PM in Los Altos. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Joshua Alper Marines Foundation, care of Morton & Associates 2479 East Bayshore Road, #285, Palo Alto, CA 94303.
Marsha Helene Alper