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Former school board president dead at 50
December 09, 2008, 12:00 AM By Heather Murtagh

Former San Carlos school board president Eric Von der Porten died Dec. 2 in his home. He was 50.

Von der Porten served eight years on the San Carlos Elementary School District and volunteered in a variety of ways throughout the community.

The cause of death is being withheld out of respect for the family’s wishes.

"This is a big loss to the community. He did a lot for San Carlos,” said Trustee Mark Olbert. "I found traces of him in odd places, volunteering throughout the community; always there to pitch in. He wasn’t very ego driven. He was not there to be visual, but to make the community better. He’ll be missed.”

Von der Porten was first elected to the San Carlos School District Board of Trustees in 1999. He was re-elected in 2003, while he was acting as board president, and decided not to run for re-election last year. While on the board, Von der Porten chaired a successful parcel tax campaign.

"He was so dedicated, such a kind person,” said Superintendent Steve Mitrovich. "He just was giving to everybody.”

As a supporter of public education, Von der Porten also worked as a proponent to the Sequoia Union High School District’s open enrollment policy, which allows students to choose which of the district’s schools they would like to attend.

Von der Porten was raised in Santa Rosa. He attended Proctor Terrace Elementary, Santa Rosa Junior High and Santa Rosa High School — where his father, Edward, was a history teacher.

Von der Porten attended the University of Chicago where he earned a degree in political science in 1979. During the summers, he would return home and work as an intern reporter for the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Von der Porten went on to work in the Washington D.C. office of for former congressman Phil Gramm of Texas, which is how he met his wife of 24 years, Cathy. Von der Porten went on to earn his master’s degree in business from Stanford University in 1984.

He worked for Bank of America and Berkeley International before founding Leeward Investments, LLC, in 1997. Since then, he served as the managing partner of the San Carlos-based firm. He previously served as the director of Dynex Capital, Inc. and was a member of the American Community Properties Trust Board of Directors.

Von der Porten is survived by his wife Cathy, and their children Peter and Laura; parents Edward and Sharyl; and his brother Michael.

A memorial service is being planned for January 2009. In lieu of flowers, donations in Von der Porten’s memory may be made to the San Carlos Educational Foundation, the Carlmont Academic Foundation or a community charity of your choice.

Heather Murtagh can be reached by e-mail: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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