ForeverMissed
This site is to remember Joseph Mandell, who recently left us at the age of 92. He lived an active and rich life filled with family, music, dance, science, research and teaching, and was married to our mother, Marion Mandell for 70 years!

Please help us remember our father by adding any and all stories, memories, and photos. Everyone can contribute, and we would love to hear from the many people whose life was enriched by Joe Mandell.


Posted by Daniel Chandler on February 26, 2021
I want to leave two quick stories. I think the first time I met Joe he had to rescue me. The Bigfoot Family Folkdance Band was rehearsing and I tried to do something clever on Linnea's computer. Joe spend the evening reinstalling the system software. Thanks Joe.
Years later Joe told me about a violin he had rescued from a San Jose music store. It sounded great, as good as my "good" violin. Seeing my avidity Joe sold it to me for what he payed: $400. I've still got it and still like it.
Posted by Arlene Imagawa on February 26, 2021
Dear Linnea and Craig, I am so very sorry for your loss. I spent many years with Joseph, not only at camp, but taking donation items to his home and I enjoyed our conversations. I was always so impressed to see him at Balkan camp, keeping up with all of us..

sending love and hugs to your family...
Posted by Linnea Mandell on February 21, 2021
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Posted by Daniel Chandler on February 26, 2021
I want to leave two quick stories. I think the first time I met Joe he had to rescue me. The Bigfoot Family Folkdance Band was rehearsing and I tried to do something clever on Linnea's computer. Joe spend the evening reinstalling the system software. Thanks Joe.
Years later Joe told me about a violin he had rescued from a San Jose music store. It sounded great, as good as my "good" violin. Seeing my avidity Joe sold it to me for what he payed: $400. I've still got it and still like it.
Posted by Arlene Imagawa on February 26, 2021
Dear Linnea and Craig, I am so very sorry for your loss. I spent many years with Joseph, not only at camp, but taking donation items to his home and I enjoyed our conversations. I was always so impressed to see him at Balkan camp, keeping up with all of us..

sending love and hugs to your family...
Posted by Linnea Mandell on February 21, 2021
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his Life

Remembering Joseph Mandell

Joe was born across the street from our mother, Marion, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. They attended the same junior high, high school and university. He and Mom became a couple during college at Rutgers and married in 1951 after she finished her BA and Dad completed his Master’s. They moved to Pasadena where Dad earned his doctorate in microbiology at Cal Tech. Dad studied viruses with Linus Pauling, and Mom worked to put Dad through graduate school.

After Joe finished his PhD, the couple moved to Long Island, NY where Dad had a post-doc fellowship and Linnea and Douglas were born. In 1958, when Douglas was 3 months old, they moved to Palo Alto for Dad do research at the Stanford Research Institute. Dana, their third child, was born in 1960, the same year they bought the house in Palo Alto, which is still the family home.

After years of research, Joe decided to switch to teaching. He became chair of the Biology Department at University of Santa Clara where he taught microbiology, biology and genetics and was required to dress very conservatively. Then Joe moved to West Valley College and taught biology, microbiology and chemistry. In this informal environment of the 60s and 70s, Dad grew long hair and wore a leather headband. He was much beloved by his students who thought he was a “really cool” professor.

Joe was known for making his classes especially fun. He liked to include science jokes at the ends of his exams, and the sound of giggles would let him know when a student had reached the end of a test. His microbiology labs included food applications like making sourdough starter, yogurt, and beer. He would bring home samples of the latest lab experiments, and I remember tasting bread that was so sour it was like eating lemons!

Joe and Marion were introduced to folk dancing in college gym class and folk dance and music remained a passion throughout their life together. While dad was at Cal Tech, they danced and taught regularly at the Pasadena Folk Dance Coop. When they moved back to Long Island, there was no folk dancing nearby, so they started their own club in Huntington. In Palo Alto, they danced with the Palomanians and nearby groups, and attended parties with the Santa Clara Valley Folk Dancers. They also started a children’s folk dance club that attracted 50-60 children every Friday night, and directed the Palo Alto Junior Folk Dancers children’s group that participated in Kolo Festival and United Nations Day festivals. For about ten years, Dad and Mom took the family to summer folk dance week at Feather River Camp near Quincy.

When Joe retired at 65, he kept very busy! He fulfilled a lifetime dream of learning to play violin, and played for 15 years with the senior community orchestra. Joe volunteered in the schools, teaching science and assisting music teachers by tuning instruments and coaching children. He also served on the board of the Friends of the Mendocino Woodlands.

Dad attended Mendocino Balkan Camp and Folklore Camp for many years where he was known as a beloved camp Grandpa to many people, as well as the guy who liked to wear silly hats. Joe especially loved his tamburitza, violin, and accordion classes with John Morovich, Miamon Miller, Mark Forry, Beth Cohen, and Michael Lawson, and the family would like to express our appreciation for all the joy these wonderful teachers brought to him.

Joe enjoyed woodworking, and made some of the furniture that is still in the house. He also built the counter for the Palo Alto ice cream store now known as Rick’s Rather Rich. He was paid in ice cream, so for much of our childhood we had continuous supply of delicious ice cream! Dad was an enthusiastic photographer who spent many hours developing photos in his garage dark room. A dedicated mycologist, Joe was president of the San Francisco Mycological Society for 2 years, and started a small commercial mushroom farm. He served as a mushroom expert for the poison control line and assisted when someone’s child or pet ate an unidentified mushroom.

Years ago, when Joe admired a carved wooden frog, his friends assumed he especially liked frogs and gave him all kinds of frog-related items, starting what eventually became a family tradition. We thus grew up in a house filled with every imaginable kind of frog and mushroom, including shirts that Mom would sew for him. Dad also loved going to Saturday yard sales and eating breakfast every Sunday at Hobees where like on Cheers, everyone knew his name.

Joe loved gardening, but had an ongoing struggle with the large population of ever‑hungry neighborhood squirrels. He eventually took to carefully trapping squirrels and relocating them at Baylands Park. He even kept a log of the “rehomed” squirrels, counting over 100 in a year! Joe also discovered that the squirrels learned about eating tomatoes from each other, and by relocating those with “tomato training” he was able to reduce the number of tomatoes that disappeared.

Joe was always known for his kindness, cheer, and warm heartedness. He was quick with a joke and everyone enjoyed his intelligent and interesting conversations. He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him.

The Mandells would like to encourage everyone to contribute stories, photos and memories to this online memorial at https://www.forevermissed.com/joseph-mandell. Additional ways to remember Joe might include singing, playing, or dancing in his memory or contributing to the EEFC in his name.

by Linnea Mandell (with editorial help from family members, Dana Mandell, Douglas Mandell, Miriam Lewis, Craig Kurumada, Marion Mandell)
Recent stories

Joe and the family fireworks

Shared by Dana Mandell on February 26, 2021
One could never say that growing up with Joe as my father was dull. One of the days that I always looked forward to as a child was the 4th of July. Sure there was a local parade, a band, floats and festivities and games in the park, but the best part was always the evening fireworks.

But I'm not talking about the big commercial firework shows that every city has, I'm talking about homemade fireworks. Since fireworks were outlawed in the city in which we lived, we would always go to our long time family friends the Lewis' house in Los Altos where fireworks were still allowed.

Now "safe and sane" fireworks were fun but very predictable and somewhat dull. For several years, my father the chemist, would spend a few weeks before the 4th making fireworks. He started with recipes from am old Dover publications reprint in paperback and worked from there.

So when the sun was down and the time for the fireworks arrived, the show would start. Each homemade firework would be lit one at a time, Now making fireworks is a tricky science and the homemade fireworks were anything but predictable. Some would explode immediately on the stand, some would fizzle and barely pop, and some would fire beautifully in the air in a dazzling array of colors.

Each firework was fitted with a length of underwater fuse that had been acquired at the surplus store. Adding more to the mystery and excitement as you could not see the fuse burn.

One year before 4th of July, he was carefully mixing the chemical powers in the backyard on the ping pong table when I came by excited to watch the "manufacturing" process in action. He explained the chemical used to make blue fire, and those to make red fire. I was completely captivated.

I then suggested that if we mixed the red fire powers with the blue fire powers, we could make purple fire! Joe explained that these were very dangerous oxidants and that just the process of stirring the power could cause it to ignite. But I was not deterred and begged him to make purple fire.

He finally agreed and carefully added the blue fire mixture to the red fire mixture. No sooner did he get halfway through then the whole thing burst into flame! As Dad ran to grab the fire extinguisher I was transfixed. The mixture was indeed burning with a purple flame!

JOE AND THE CHEMISTRY TEACHER

Shared by Linnea Mandell on February 21, 2021
In high school, everyone knew who Joe Mandell was because he was the one who used to argue with the chemistry teacher, and he was usually right! Throughout school, Dad was well known as an amazing, brilliant nerd, and he received his doctorate and worked at Cal Tech. (Linnea and Craig are huge fans of the Big Bang Theory, and love this connection!)