Obituary — Katherine Palau, Jan. 12, 1957 — Jan. 18, 2024

Obituary — Katherine Palau,
Jan. 12, 1957 — Jan. 18, 2024

Obituary — Katherine Palau, Jan. 12, 1957 — Jan. 18, 2024
Katherine Palau with her goat, Anton.

CLAYTON, CA (Feb. 15, 2024) — Katherine Denice Palau passed away at age 67 on Jan. 18, 2024. She transitioned peacefully at her home in Clayton, surrounded by family and friends.

Katherine was born in Maryland on Jan. 12, 1957, to Tony and Gloria Denice. She was a bright student and an avid equestrian. Perceived as too independent, she was sent to Linden Hall, an all-girls boarding school in Lititz, Pa.

After graduation, she studied at Earlham College for a year. She lived in Florida, New York and Texas (briefly), before taking up permanent residence in California.

In 1981, she arrived in the Bay Area and began working as a counselor for emotionally disturbed teens at St. George Homes. There, she met her husband, Alex Palau, as well as several of her closest life-long friends. She gave birth to Daniel Palau on April 19, 1983.

In the early ’90s, she began working at Archway School in Oakland. She dutifully fulfilled roles from secretary to teacher to principal during her 10-year stint. There, she met fellow instructor Eric Olson, and their son, Tristan Olson, was born on Jan. 27, 1987.

Katherine studied English at Holy Names University in Oakland, where she received a bachelor’s degree and, in 2002, a master of arts in English with Summa Cum Laude honors.

As an inspired educator, she taught in diverse institutions. She honed her unique pedagogical approach in classrooms throughout the Bay Area, from San Francisco’s Lick-Wilmerding High School to Berkeley High, Berkeley Alternative and Richmond’s Making Waves Academy.

Along the way, she met John Magee and they started a courtship at their neighborhood coffee shop. She fell in love with his kindness and shy charm, and they became an item.

They supported each other for more than 20 years, with mutual patience and understanding, peppered (of course) with silly voices and inside jokes.

She is survived by her life partner John Magee; sons Tristan Olson (Beth) and Daniel Palau (Alana); granddaughter Sadie Goldson; brother George Denice; and sister Frandee Massin.

Katherine loved donkeys and decided she must have her own. In 2008, she purchased a parcel of undeveloped land in Clayton. There, she and John began creating what was to become a home both for themselves as well as for the new extended family of donkeys, mules, goats, chickens and rabbits.

Doodleton Ranch was a donkey rescue and summer camp for kids, which allowed Katherine to combine her love of teaching with her passion for animals of all kinds – including the local wildlife. Summer camp alumni still return to Doodleton to help with the chores.

Her resilience and passion for life was demonstrated not only through her battle with resurgent breast cancer, but perhaps best by her refusal to be anyone but who she was: a radically vulnerable woman with childlike joy and emotional authenticity that left an indelible mark on all who knew her.