Marilyn Marx Mindel
May 27, 1940-March 30, 2021
Mimi Mindel died unexpectedly of a heart attack on March 30, 2021. A fourth-generation San Franciscan, Mimi was born May 27, 1940 to Louise and Melville "Sonny" Marx, whom Herb Caen described as "one of SF's most colorful characters, a former president of Golden Gate Fields, gentleman gambler, major philanthropist and connoisseur of lovely women."
Mimi attended Notre Dame des Victoires and graduated from Lowell High School in 1958. She captained the tennis team while also earning an F in physical education; her nails were too long. Mimi attended the University of Arizona for one year before the desert heat drove her back to the bay.
She graduated from Cal in 1962, marrying Larry Mindel several months later. They were married for eleven years, and had three children, but in very beautiful practical terms they were partners for life when it came to creating, nurturing and expanding their family. Mimi and Debby, Larry's second wife, were true friends. Mimi said that Debby's love and understanding made it all work, a characteristically generous if somewhat incomplete analysis, for Mimi and Larry both also played their own unique roles to perfection.
In the late 1970s, Mimi co-founded and directed Bluxome Gallery. Bluxome specialized in emerging as well as established artists such as Dennis Leon, Frank Lobdell and Jim Rosen. Visitors reached the upper-floor gallery, located in a beautiful old brick building south of Market, via freight elevator. The 1989 earthquake hit hard. After a short run at 228 Grant Avenue following the quake, Mimi, along with partners Morley Clark, Mary Robinson and Fred Karran, elected to close the gallery in 1991. Each partner wished to move on to another phase of life. For Mimi, this meant more time with her soul mate, sculptor Herb Arnold, who died in 1993.
Mimi soon became a beloved member of the Commonweal family in Bolinas where for 28 years, right up until her passing, she fielded inquiries from cancer patients from across the country seeking resources for cancer therapies and practitioners. She also served as curator of the Commonweal Gallery, mounting many remarkable art exhibits, and was a steady presence at the institute's cancer help retreats. Commonweal co-founder Michael Lerner said that Mimi greeted all who came with "effortless grace and kindness."
As befits a Marx—distant relative Harpo once comforted four-year-old Mimi when she tumbled from a top bunk at a family gathering--Mimi had a bright playful positive spirit (beds by the way never could contain her: Mimi recently broke her wrist falling from an RV bunk at Burning Man). Experiences were "flawless" or "a ten." She was always "never better." She served and she helped, and she also delighted in her life's many pleasures. She loved the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel from the day it opened in 1965 until her final visit last year and returned frequently. She skied beautifully and enjoyed summers at Tahoe Tavern, plunging off the pier several times each day, or stroking serenely au naturel around her Cobalt farther offshore, invigorated by the lake's rejuvenating "negative ions." She was a forever Giant fan, attending games with her dad at Candlestick, and holding her own tickets at the new park, Section 105 Row 12 (a superb vantage from which to appreciate J.T. Snow's closely tailored uniform trousers). An early Bikram devotee—attending his wedding, even--before distancing herself when he went off the rails, Mimi began to practice yoga in the 1970s and never stopped. She selected thoughtful if sometimes esoteric gifts for friends and family, always presenting them beautifully, a holdover from her first job wrapping gifts at Ransohoff's department store (her elegant cursive a tribute to the nuns at NDV). Crab Louie at Swan, Pollo Toscano at Il Fornaio, jeroboams of good red wine, the occasional hit of Mimi Bud—she savored it all, except for, inexplicably, celery.
Mimi laughed easily and often. Her spirit and warmth, and an outlook that permitted her to see only the very best in others drew many into her orbit, far too many to name and thank here, although amongst themselves, her family has done little else but just that in the days since Mimi passed. Several people, however, deserve direct mention. She would have been lost without Moe Mackowski. She was friends with the Honig girls, Annie (Nadel) and Suey (Weinstein), forever. Although Gayle Blum was Mimi's sister-in-law for a relatively short while, they remained extremely close for life. Jay Bass, Dave Perron and Jim Rosenfield were special and beloved as well.
Reconnecting recently in person or over the phone with grammar school friends Joelle Benioff, Paul Pelosi, Gianni Fassio and former Gonzaga basketball coach Adrian Buoncristani (first kiss) gave Mimi special joy; life came full circle.
After living on Avila Street in the Marina for over fifty years, Mimi moved to sunny Larkspur in 2016. For as wide, varied and cherished her circle of friends, no one meant more to Mimi than her children and grandchildren, and the move enabled her to see them daily if she wished. She was a regular fan at her grandsons' soccer, lacrosse, basketball, baseball and even football games--"so militaristic!" she would huff—becoming fast friends with the boys' teammates and their families as well, to whom like Cher and Pele before her she soon became a household single-name word, Mimi!
Working at Commonweal, Mimi became quite familiar and comfortable with death. She did not fear it, stating regularly however though that she did not want to suffer. In death as so often in life, she got what she wanted: Saturday night she was still vital regular Mimi, dropping a ping pong game to seven-year-old grandson Renzo but coming back to defeat his brother Oscar 11-1 (Mimi liked to win). She went home early though, feeling uncharacteristically "heavy." Sunday she reluctantly allowed her son Tony to take her to Marin General, where they surprised her with the news that she had experienced a heart attack. Doctors were optimistic. And then early Tuesday, she passed unexpectedly. Never once in that brief time did she appear to suffer.
Mimi is survived by her son Michael (Joni); her daughter Laura Reinertsen (Steve); her son Tony (Alicia); her former husband Larry and his wife Debby and their children Katherine Jones (Tripp) and Nicolas (Andrea). She adored her grandchildren Dashiel and Al Mindel; Sam and Henrik Reinertsen; Oscar and Renzo Mindel; and considered Eleanor, Louisa and Ward Jones grandchildren as well. Mimi was thrilled to learn that Nick and Andrea are expecting. Other survivors include her sister-in-law Carol Marx, nieces Debbie Gelleri (Evan) and Kim Smith (Geoff) as well as nephew Jay Marx; brother- and sister-in-law Jim and Carolyn Herman, and nephews John (Lori) and Andy Herman. Mimi was predeceased by her parents, Louise and Melville "Sonny" Marx; and her brother, Mel Marx Jr.
The family plans to celebrate Mimi's life later next month; email email@example.com for information. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Mimi Mindel Cancer Help Scholarship Fund at Commonweal, Box 316, Bolinas CA 94924. https://www.commonweal.org/news/memoriam-mimi-mindel/