Larry Clinton/Sausalito Historical Society
Throughout her 65 years in Sausalito, Dorothy Gibson gave generously of her time and talent.
In addition to her career in social work, the transplanted Buckeye volunteered for various city commissions and non-profits, including the Historical Society, where she served on the Board for six years. And her giving didn’t end when she died on Jan. 18, 2019 at the age of 95.
Dorothy bequeathed her 1,200-square-foot home on Johnson Street to the city, to provide low or moderate-income housing to full-time city employees.
Dorothy’s civic involvement included serving on the Planning Commission in the 1970s and the Design Review Board in the 1980s. As a volunteer, she was active with the Sausalito Historical Society, the Volunteers in Public Safety (VIPS), and Sausalito Village. Dorothy was actively against the development of hotels along the Marinship waterfront. This became such a hot issue Dorothy ran for City Council in 1974 only to lose to Sally Stanford by 27 votes.
Dorothy was later appointed head of the Transportation Committee and was involved in amending and rewriting the General Plan for Sausalito. In 2013 she had the honor of serving as grand marshal of the City’s annual Fourth of July parade.
An avid hiker and founding member of The Mt. Tamalpais Interpretive Association, now Friends of Mt. Tamalpais, she incorporated trails and pathways into the city plan.
She published the first edition of her book Exploring Sausalito’s Paths and Walkways in 2001 and began leading free Saturday morning walking tours to teach people about Sausalito’s history and neighborhoods through our paths and stairs. My wife Jane and I joined one of those off-road treks to north Sausalito and bailed out when she led us close to home at Kappas Marina. The rest of the group trudged all the way back downtown to Viña del Mar Plaza.
Dorothy also published Marin Headlands (Images of America) in 2009 and Sausalito’s Parks, Plazas, Playgrounds and Benches in 2017. The Marin Headlands book is available through the Historical Society website: http://www.sausalitohistoricalsociety.com/society-publications.
After she retired, Dorothy traveled the world, visiting more than 50 countries and, from 1989 to 1999, reporting back to Sausalito with her “Travels with Dorothy” letters to this newspaper.
According to an obituary at Legacy.com: “Later on, Dorothy would travel throughout the US, Alaska, and Canada, camping in all the National parks. She would drive her 1968 Volvo 122S Amazon Station wagon with her two cats Simi, the Siamese, and her black and white, Tuxedo. The back seat made nicely into a double bed, the cat box and feed station were on the back seat floor. There was room for skis and poles on the sides. Charcoal, wood and hibachi took up the passenger floor.” All these travels developed into a second ongoing Marinscope feature called “Postcards from Dorothy.”
On her passing, the Historical Society’s Steefenie Wicks wrote that Dorothy “had her own path. That path led her to not only find the paths in Sausalito but also the path to a strong political career here. Her small figure that we have all become accustomed to seeing has now joined the spirits of the paths. So next time you climb one of Sausalito’s hidden stairways or find yourself walking up a path on the hillside, take time to look around and say hello to Dorothy because her spirit is watching you, saying: ’Keep to the path’.” Sadly, Steefenie left us just a few months after Dorothy.
The City Council is still discussing how to best utilize Dorothy’s last gift. The one bedroom, one bath house needs some minor repairs, and could possibly be expanded. Dorothy also left the city some cash to help prepare her home for a new life of service to the community.