COMMENTARY: Remembering former Hollister resident who served the community for 20 years

Jennifer Coile writes about Elizabeth Gage's achievements.

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Elizabeth Gage died in Shoreline, Washington on February 20, 2023. She lived in Hollister for twenty years, enriching our cultural life and serving in many roles. She was a fun friend, creative, interesting, and multi-talented.

Elizabeth was born in Illinois and then her family moved to Palo Alto, where her father was a professor in the College of Education at Stanford. She graduated from Stanford with a B.A. in Graphic Arts and worked at Sunset Magazine’s headquarters/house with demonstration kitchen and garden in Menlo Park. She returned to Stanford for an MBA degree, then lived in the Netherlands for 12 years, as subscription director of TIME magazine in Europe.

Time Inc. transferred her to Florida, where she met her husband Bill Martinie. They moved to Hollister in the 1990s when she sought to be near her parents at Stanford to tend to their sunset years. Elizabeth and Bill bought an independent bookstore downtown and a 19th century house on South Street, as well as staffing the San Benito County Chamber of Commerce.

Around 2000, the bookstore was sold to an employee, its viability threatened by Amazon. She went to work for the Stanford Alumni Association’s Travel Program and led several trips abroad. We carpooled together when I worked in Palo Alto City Hall 2002-04, which was very enjoyable and much more enriching than riding CalTrain by myself.  Her subsequent jobs included beautician at Origins Skincare boutique within Macy’s, Starbucks assistant manager, and stylist for CABI Clothing.

Local community service included her appointment to the City of Hollister Planning Commission and the San Benito County Historical Advisory Committee. With Cathy Carli, she toured south county historic sites to map and assess conditions and interviewed old-timers. Her interest in local history and education involved Living History events at the San Juan Bautista state park and re-enactments at the San Benito County Historical and Recreation Park. She and her blacksmith husband dressed in period attire while authentically cooking and camping during “California mountain men” era weekends. She helped coordinate refreshments for the Father’s Day Victorian Ball in the upstairs ballroom of the Zanetta House. She and Bill supported educational safety training programs of the National Rifle Association, held on local ranches.

Elizabeth could always be counted on to help when asked. She bought Girl Scout cookies. She donated auction items to the “Save the Music” fundraiser to fund a middle school music teacher. When a swing band from Holland, Fraggle Rock, came to play a concert on the streets of San Juan Bautista, she gave a welcome speech in Dutch.  She volunteered as barback at “Cocktailapalooza” to assist our visiting friend Jean Olson, a mixologist certification by the Acme School of Bartending in Las Vegas.

Elizabeth enjoyed writing – and cooking, especially baking, using local produce from her Eat with the Seasons/Herbert Farms CSA box. She was a member of the San Benito Writers Group/Eaters Group. For several years, in the Free Lance newspaper she wrote a weekly cooking column with recipes,  plus an opinion column called “the Mobile Skeptic” (some columns are posted at She advocated frequently for support of local businesses and cultural activities.

She participated in NaNoWriMo at least once – National Novel Writing Month– and started a novel set in southern San Benito County. After she divorced and moved to Seattle in 2014, she often returned for visits during the Saddle Horse Show and Rodeo and the County Fair to gather material for the novel. In her last job in Seattle, she was office coordinator for the state headquarters of the nonprofit Washington Native Plant Society.

Elizabeth joined fellow alumni of the Stanford Graduate School of Business to found Project Redwood: “working together to alleviate global poverty by funding grantees that focus on tangible impacts.” She sponsored the Hope Project, vocational training in Liberia (

She frequently considered the issues of County growth, historic preservation, quality of life, and the future. In a column in 2008, she wrote: “I believe that all travel is a quest for something. One of the questions I am constantly asking myself is whether change and progress must necessarily destroy all that is unique and worthwhile about a place. I wonder about this in general, and I wonder about this in the case of Hollister. This tour of the British Isles was in part a quest for the answer to that question, and now that I have reached the end, I am encouraged.”

Family was always important to her: brother Tom and his family in Sunnyvale and two sisters, Annie and Sarah, and their families in Seattle. Her friends are especially grateful to her sisters for overseeing excellent and tender care during the last year of her life.

Jennifer Coile

I moved to Hollister in 2001 because of my husband's local job. I'm a retired commuter/telecommuter working as a consultant in affordable housing, community development/planning, economic development and grant management. My volunteer work is generally devoted to cultural events for youth. I'm a founding board member of the Pinnacles Partnership in support of Pinnacles National Park. On November 19, 2012, Governor Brown appointed me to the Board of the 33rd District Agricultural Association/San Benito County Fair.