Pauline (Polly) DeBang Keever Straka was born April 26, 1915 to Paul D. and Ada Scheiver Keever in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She was an only child. Her father was a teacher in Allentown. She grew up in Pennsylvania and married Frank Gordon Straka on Nov. 4, 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Gordon was a Swarthmore graduate who later became the financial officer of the Palo Alto COOP. He died June 4, 1964. They had two sons: Paul Straka, born September 17, 1941 in Pennsylvania, and Donald Frank Straka, born January 19, 1943 in Des Moines, Iowa. Both sons are deceased. Polly is survived by three granddaughters and four great-grandsons. Carrie Reed lives in Cameron Park, California with her husband and son. Kimberley Wellman lives in El Dorado Hills, California with her husband and three sons. Lindsey Straka lives in Boulder, Colorado. Polly died on January 25, 2004 in Palo Alto, California.
Polly graduated from Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA. in 1937. She taught for awhile at Sleighton Farm School, a school for delinquent girls near Philadelphia. After her marriage she and Gordon lived briefly in the Midwest before coming to California in 1943. They loved nature, to hike in the out of doors and enjoyed our National Parks. She taught history at Ravenswood High School in East Palo Alto for several years. After the death of Gordon in 1964 she taught history for a short while in Hawaii. Polly enjoyed reading and writing and took at least one course at Stanford with Wallace Stegner.
Polly joined the Palo Alto Monthly Meeting as a member by convincement on May 18, 1947. She served the Meeting in numerous ways and served on many of the Meeting committees. Polly was especially active from the time she joined the Meeting until the mid-1970's. She remained active after that, but at a more manageable pace. In the late 1940's, 1950's and 1960's she was mentioned in most month's meeting minutes either reporting for a committee or volunteering to do something. In 1949 she was on the Building committee to find a site for our Meetinghouse which ultimately resulted in the building of what is now called the Old Meetinghouse at the front of the Palo Alto Meeting property on Colorado Ave. That same year she was the representative to College Park Quarterly Meeting. She also served on the Ministry and Council committee (1948 and 1962), Hospitality committee (1969, 1980's), Library committee (1971), and Newsletter committee (1974). During her time as the newsletter editor she personally stuffed and mailed the newsletter each month for several years. She also maintained the Meeting directory on 3x5 cards. She was also actively involved with the AFSC Criminal Justice Committee in the late 1940's and 1950's and was the Meetings representative to the Palo Alto Inter-Group Council on Human Relations in the mid 1950's. She was involved with foreign student outreach at Stanford and hosted "supper meetings" for members and attenders.
Polly joined Palo Alto Friends Meeting several years before any other living member and prior to her death was proud to be the member with the longest continuous membership in our Meeting. With her departure go many memories of our early history. Her passing is a loss for all of us. We will miss her.