Interviewed by Sally Hauser September 25, 1987
When Vera Schultz and her husband, Ray, moved to Mill Valley in 1928, she almost immediately became involved in local politics. Mrs. Schultz served as secretary to Mill Valley's Superintendent of Schools, on the Parks & Recreation Commission and with the League of Women Voters. In 1946 she was elected to the Mill Valley City Council and in 1952 she became the first woman Supervisor in Marin County history. She served on the Board of Supervisors until 1960 and earned the title of "Marin's first lady" for her work to end "cracker barrel politics" and professionalize Marin County government.
She was a member of the Civic Center Committee entrusted with finding an architect for a new government center and is credited, together with Mary Summers, with securing Frank Lloyd Wright for the job. In the face of opposition from Supervisor William Fusselman and a vocal minority of Marin County citizens, Vera stood staunch in her support for Wright and his designs for the Civic Center. Ironically, Vera lost her bid to re-election mid-way through the construction of the Administration Building. She was powerless when a newly-seated Board of Supervisors, led by Supervisor Fusselman, voted 3-2 in favor of halting work on the Civic Center on January 10, 1961. Thanks to a straw poll organized by the Marin Independent Journal, it became apparent that a strong majority of Marin residents favored Wright's design for the Civic Center and wanted work to continue. Consequently, the Board of Supervisors reversed their previous decision and work was resumed on the Administration Building a week later. Today the Marin County Civic Center stands as a memorial to Vera Schultz' tenacity and vision.
Vera never retired from community service, serving on the Marin Senior Coordinating Council where she helped to develop Whistlestop. She was also active with the American Association of University Women who set up a scholarship in her name. She died in 1995 at the home of her daughter.
In the excerpts that follow, Vera recounts her experiences on the Civic Center Committee, meeting Frank Lloyd Wright for the first time, and opposition to Wright by some members of the community.
Above: Vera Schultz at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Civic Center, 1987.