Fanny Arnold
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Fanny Hastings Arnold

Fanny Hastings Arnold died November 18, 2013, at her home in Menlo Park at the age of 99.  Fanny was the only child of Russell Platt Hastings and Frances Simes Hastings. She was born at her parents' home on Ramona Street in Palo Alto in May of 1914. Though her given name was Frances, she was called Fanny all her adult life.


Fanny spent her early years in Palo Alto, Anaheim and Whittier. In 1922, her father's work took the family to Argentina where they stayed until 1927. Her schooling there was in English and Spanish. She retained her ability to speak Spanish all her life.


Upon her return to California, Fanny attended the Carmel Valley Ranch School. That is where she developed her love of the outdoors, wildflowers, horses, and ranch animals in general. Her parents always had a family dog and so did Fanny as an adult.


Fanny graduated from the Sarah Dix Hamlin School in San Francisco and then followed her father's footsteps into Stanford University.


In 1935 she married Thomas Church Arnold, who she had met in the Carmel Valley. Together Tom and Fanny started the Idle Hour Stable in Menlo Park, which they ran until 1950. During these years Tom and Fanny were also very busy raising five children.


After World War II, the city of Menlo Park grew rapidly, changing the rural area where the family lived. By 1950 stables in town were no longer viable. From 1950 to 1963 Fanny lived in the Menlo Park house until the children finished school in town. During this time she also managed rental properties she and Tom built on the location of the stable. Tom moved to and worked their ranch property east of Mt. Hamilton in Santa Clara County. In 1963, once the last child was off to college, Fanny joined Tom on the ranch. They enjoyed life together until his death in 1969.


Fanny continued to live on the ranch after Tom's death. She was able to do this comfortably with the help of her ranch manager Hermilo. Fanny enjoyed her country life with local friends and neighbors, plus horseback riding into her 80s. Over the years she had horses, cattle, goats, chickens and peacocks on the land. She walked her dog Spunky daily until she moved off the ranch. Fanny was always happy to make the ranch accessible to the California Native Plant Society for wildflower viewing each spring and to the Audubon Society for bird count events.


In the spring of 2004, just after her 90th birthday, Fanny's family moved her back into the Menlo Park home where she and Tom had started their life together.


She is survived by her five children: Emily Arnold of Petersham, MA; Henry Arnold of San Francisco; Jesse Arnold of Cambria; Michael (Darlene) Arnold of Reno, NV; and Sally Rench of Fremont. She is also survived by her stepdaughter Mary Mack; eight grandchildren; seven great grandchildren; one great, great grandson and numerous descendants of her stepchildren.


She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband Tom C. Arnold, and stepchildren Thomas B. Arnold, Bernice Grimm and Dorothy Arnold.


As per her wishes, Fanny will be cremated, and there will be no religious service. However, the family plans to have a memorial gathering on May 3, 2014. Contact Sally Rench at srench1032@comcast.net or call Jesse Arnold at 805/927-3096 for details.


You may honor Fanny with a contribution to the California Native Plant Society, 2707 K Street, Suite 1, Sacramento, CA 95816-5113 (https://support.cnps.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=298) or to a charity of your choice.



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Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Apr. 7 to Apr. 12, 2014.
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