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Remembering Charles McGlashan

The widow of the late Mill Valley resident and Marin County Supervisor says the year since his passing have brought "dark and heavy days" but also "unspeakable gratitude for the love" they shared.

(Editor's note: Although the late Charles McGlashan represented Southern Marin on the Marin County Board of Supervisors, he had many friends in Novato. Tuesday will mark one year since the death of McGlashan. This column is written by Carol Misseldine, McGlashan’s widow.)

Many thanks to Mill Valley Patch for the opportunity to offer my reflections as we approach the one year anniversary of on March 27, 2011. The after his death is testament to the numbers of lives he touched.

Many were drawn to Charles’ 1,000-megawatt smile, his infectious enthusiasm and his passionate “can-do” attitude. His ability to articulate an inspiring vision would bring audiences to their feet. Charles was driven to excel and brought to his efforts a razor sharp intellect, an unshakeable resolve and a deep well of compassion.

He dreamt of a better world and invited us to join him in making that dream a reality. His life’s mission can be summed up by the eloquent words of the great architect Bill McDonough, who urges us to be driven by a “love for all of the children, of all of the species, all of the time.” 

Charles was convinced that through focused, rational analysis and deep compassion, we could birth such a society on this planet in our lifetime. What broke his heart daily was his growing dread that we may lack the collective political will to ensure its birth before it’s too late.

That question looms large for all those now living and those yet to be born.

Charles was a loving and attentive husband to me, and a devoted “Daddy” to our family of cherished pets. He adored our cats and was crazy about our dog Bonnie, who he affectionately referred to as his “little baby” and his “little yellow dog.” One of his greatest joys was a family outing with Bonnie and me, hiking and biking the trails of Mt. Tam.

His love for animals was not confined to those with whom we shared our home. He cared deeply for all animals, and in the final months of his life he had begun to parlay his lifelong concern for animals into substantive policy on their behalf.

Charles listened to and learned from others, even when their opinions differed widely. Although he was deeply sensitive to contemptuous comments leveled against him by those who opposed him, he willingly took the inevitable hits for refusing to back down on controversial issues if he believed that his position would move us toward sustainability. His goal was not to be re-elected, although his popularity in his district virtually guaranteed that outcome. His goal was to advance his mission. 

He consistently reminded us that creating a sustainable economy benefited both the environment and the economy, reflected in his own words from a letter to the editor in 2004:

“Through hard, focused teamwork, we can improve our quality of life and foster a vital economy while protecting Marin’s unparalleled environment. Outdated thinking that pits the economy against the environment can give way to creative win/win solutions, and this will be my focus. I welcome your ideas.”

In numerous ways, his legacy lives on. An inspiring ceremony was held just last month to mark the and the related bike path. All of the towns and cities in Marin . The in unincorporated Marin.  

Shortly after his death, the Marin County Board of Supervisors adopted a VegWeek resolution, championed by Charles, to encourage residents to choose vegetarian foods as a way to protect their health, the environment and animals. And ground has been broken to to connect Tam Valley and the Gateway communities with the North-South Greenway.  

Charles is missed by many friends, colleagues and family members, and even by those who never met him but are inspired by his vision. As for me, I cannot imagine a day when I will not mourn his sudden passing; he was my prince, my partner, my confidante, my comrade-in-arms.

Enduring and navigating the enormity of the void that remains, and mourning what might have been, have brought dark and heavy days of bitter loss since his abrupt departure. But a growing number of days are also filled with unspeakable gratitude for the love Charles and I shared; a greater love than I had dared to dream of.  

If the mystics are right in telling us that after death the soul “lives far more intensely and responsively,” then it’s a certainty that Charles is still with us in spirit and cheers our every move toward sustainability and compassion.

Thank you, my beloved Charles. May you learn from and work with the Great Ones and may you sleep with the Angels.


Carol Misseldine is Charles McGlashan’s wife. Portions of this editorial have been excerpted from a longer tribute Carol wrote that has been published in the McGlashan Tribute Book, available for public review starting March 27 in the California Room in the library at the Marin County Civic Center.

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