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Joanne Winship photo: Glacier National Park

Newsletter | May/Jun 2021

Volume 49:3 | Search


If you would like to see corrections to this newsletter or to submit articles or suggestions for future newsletters please contact the Newsletter Editor.

In this issue:
Artist and Handyman - Lisa Scherf
Remembering Roz Koo - Bobbie Sue Hood


Editor's Note:

by Mui Ho    |  
 Share #1471

It never stops amazing me how creative and active our OWA members are. During the lockdown, they have developed new interests and many have become involved with public and neighborhood activities. Usually we have limited amounts of time when holding down a full time job, just enough to take care of daily needs and work. For retired members, the Covid lockdown has created even more time in our hands, and we have tried to stay active by contributing to our immediate community. We spend our energy being helpful to friends in need and making other small contributions.

Janet Crane has been very active with NextVillageSF, a non profit organization. In their Programs on Unique Experience series on Armchair Travel, she has invited OWA member and photographer Joanne Winship to talk about her trip to Mongolia.

Joanne Winship is planning to drive to Minnesota this summer visiting state parks with her beloved dog. She has found a rider from San Francisco to Minnesota and would welcome a driver companion on her return trip. Please contact her if you know of anyone interested.

Marda Stothers is planning to return to Northern Ireland this summer for several weeks to continue her work on Jubilee Farm, a christian organization, to build a multipurpose barn with classrooms, kitchen, shelter and milking room for livestock.

Judy Rowe has been teaching three young neighborhood children, ages 8 to 10, drawing and watercolor during the Covid lockdown. They meet in her garden once or twice a week. Judy is a serious watercolor artist. Recently she won the First Place in the 2021 California Watercolor Association Member Show. She hads shared her watercolor technique with us in couple of OWA Retreats.


Artist and Handyman

by Lisa Scherf    |  
 Share #1473

I have always been an unusual mix of artist and handyman. Growing up on a horse farm far from resources, I quickly learned about building, maintenance, and creative problem-solving. These combined with my artistic side, have created the dynamic, practical thinker with imaginative flare. I must admit some corporate jobs have appreciated the latter quality more than others.

One day while I was shopping at a second-hand store, I overheard the staff debating new fixtures, paint, floor plans, etc. I could hear how daunted and overwhelmed they felt. This being one of my favorite spots, as well as a lovely non-profit in dire need of a makeover, I offered to help. Having completed two years of fashion design school, I was confident I could help guide them in the right direction. I had no idea the project would become my baby and the catalyst to a whole new life adventure—the life of a commercial interior designer.

Before I get too far, let me state that I am in my first years as a designer. The remarkable fact that follows this is that these recent years are the most magical I've experienced. What started as volunteering for a day ended with my completion of an entire store remodel. A store designed, built, and brought to life by me! I finished the project, and I revealed not only a new store but a new passion and a life calling. I joyfully executed a few more projects, and then, COVID. It felt as though I was nearing the peak of a mountain high with energy when a rockslide hit. Of course, it hurt to stumble but with a humble heart and a new addiction to interiors dusted off, picked the rocks out of my knees and enrolled in Interior Design school. I chose to turn this hurdle into an opportunity, and I knew getting more advanced with my designs meant getting my license. I'm halfway through school, and again, I'm having the time of my life. Whether I'm studying design history or working in the field, for me, life doesn't get any better than this. Thank you for investing in my story; I look forward to yours.

With that, I'll leave on this interesting note. Several people have asked me why I prefer commercial design over residential. I answer, "residential design weaves the story of a household. Where they're going, where they've been, who they are, and what they love. It's a story with a beautifully human narrative. Commercial design, in contrast, brings to light a world of fiction and dreams, the things beyond human. It's a space that encourages me to play in grand scale. Only there do I get to design stuff like 15' walls with splashed blood. It's imagination heroin, and I'm absolutely hooked! Be well, be safe, and most of all BE CREATIVE. 


Gauss Surgical Menlo Park CA 

This project was so fun! The CEO of a biomedical company that produces products to analyze blood in surgical settings wanted something to inspire the staff but also highlight their product focus. I commissioned a local artist to create a custom fire ink piece using blood-red ink. Then I had the artwork photographed, blown up, and converted to a 15' wall wrap. The result was one of a kind striking focal piece covering the main wall of the companies lounge area. The staff tells me how much they now love working across from the intriguing and mesmerizing "blood wall".  Gauss Surgical Menlo Park CA


Urban Boutique Grand Avenue Oakland CA 

This store is my first design child. I volunteered to help an area non-profit that helps single mothers transitioning out of poverty with housing and job training. We were on a 3-week timeline and bare minimum budget. Working with lighting and paint donations, 3/4 steel gas/water pipes, and common board wood I designed, built and installed new clothing racks, display shelves, light fixtures, and even a backlit shoe display wall. The store has seen a 50% increase in sales since the remodel which enabled them to build a new training area in the back. This project showed me the power of creativity, community, and passion!


Roz Koo Obituary

 Share #1476

via Self Help for the Elderly

Architects who practiced in the 70's and 80's in the Bay area would have met Roz Koo or heard about her. Roz was the Chief Financial Officer and a partner at MBT Associates, one of the largest architectural firms in the area. She was instrumental in bringing in large projects and working with corporate firms like Chevron. Prior to joining the architectural firm, she was the executive assistant to Gerald McCue then the dean of the College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley.

After retiring from MBT associates in 1988, Roz spent most her time working with non-profit organizations helping them to acquired funding. She was nicknamed the 'Funding Angel'. She was the force in getting the 70 units of the Lady Shaw Senior Center through City Hall, despite considerable opposition from North Beach neighbors. It took seven years to build.


Remembering Roz Koo

by Bobbie Sue Hood    |  
 Share #1478

I knew Roz as a grad student at UC Berkeley and in my first job. Gerald McCue asked me to come and work for him, and Roz ran his office - first when he was Chair of the department at UC Berkeley and then after she left UC and joined MBT..

She came from a very wealthy banking family in Shanghai. She came to America getting out just before the revolution. She was a brilliant raconteur and had a gift for speech making and telling jokes. She could deliver one liners like a professional comedian!  I think the men at the office were jealous of her power and brilliance. They called her (behind her back) the Dragon Lady. 

Roz attended Mills College in Oakland.  I talked with her about 6 months before she died and she was as sharp as ever. I told her I was thrilled that my own children live nearby me in San Francisco and have enjoyed great success. She said be good to your children because they are the ones who will take care of you when you get old. I thought that was  an interesting thing to say. She brought two daughters up brilliantly in Oakland.

She made possible many institutions in the Chinatown community including the Chinese Cultural Center. She sponsored many girls' educations in China. She told me once that they called her Po Po, Chinese equivalent of Granny is. She was very proud of sponsoring education for some women in China. She was one of the most remarkable people I have ever known.


Joanne Winship Photo: Glacier National Park







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