Lois Grau: Humanitarian, adventurer, activist and community builder

Lois Sandner Grau. Photo: Courtesy family

Lois Sandner Grau, March 30, 1918 — Aug. 9, 2018

Lois Sandner Grau passed away in her sleep on Aug. 9, 2018. Born on March 30, 1918 in Berkeley, she was 100 years old. 

Lois attended public schools in Berkeley — Hillside Elementary, Garfield Middle and Berkeley High —  before receiving a master of social welfare degree from UC Berkeley. It was there that she met Dick Grau. Their first date was at the Claremont Hotel where he warned her that he only had enough money for each of them to have one drink. Their courtship bloomed and they married two weeks after Pearl Harbor.

Lois was adventurous and loved to travel. In 1939, she and a girlfriend traveled through Europe, sometimes by bicycle. During their travels, they were rescued from a Nazi rally, attended the last Bastille Day before World War II and were lucky to return home on the last ship with regular accommodations.

Later, Lois went with Dick on sabbaticals to New York, England, Scotland and New Zealand. Whether short trips or year-long sabbaticals, Lois always found a way in these new environments to volunteer and help those in need.

During her time in Berkeley, Lois co-owned Fybate Lecture Notes, worked for peace and served others. In 1955, Lois and Dick left Berkeley for their new home in Davis. By then, they had three children and their fourth was born in Davis.

Lois became active in humanitarian, peace and community-service organizations in their new community. She was one of the original founders of STEAC (Short Term Emergency Aid Committee), the Unitarian Universalist Church, the Davis Parent Nursery School and Citizens Who Care. She served on the Yolo County Grand Jury and worked as a volunteer for Suicide Prevention. Lois supported environmental causes and civil rights, and participated in the weekly hour-long silent vigil for peace. In 1978, Lois and Dick Grau received recognition as Citizens of the Year for their service to the community.

Lois was known for her wonderful garden with its wall of sweet peas in the spring and great tasting food all year long. Flower arranging was an art at which Lois excelled. Her flowers graced the dinner tables of family and friends. She won multiple blue ribbons at the county fair and provided arrangements at many special occasions.

Kind and generous, Lois was known, along with Dick, as being welcoming to all and feeding everyone. After church on Sundays, her children could invite as many friends as they wanted to have limitless hot dogs, milkshakes and popcorn cooked the old-fashioned way in the frying pan.

Lois was one of the original group of people who developed the Glacier Circle co-housing community where friends enjoy and support one another as they age. The community, which was featured on the front page of the New York Times, is a wonderful place where Lois loved, and was loved, by the people who live there.

Lois’ children — Susan Heiser, David Grau, Ellen Grau Hedges and John Grau — their spouses, five granddaughters and six great-grandchildren will miss her deeply.

A memorial service will begin at 2:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 6, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, 27074 Patwin Road. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to STEAC, 1900 E. Eighth St., Davis, CA 95616, or a charity of your choice.