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Joyce Remak: An Individual in a City of Individuals

by Steefenie Wicks
Joyce Remak, who passed away last month, played an important role in mid 20th-century Sausalito, along with her husband Bill.  
Joyce was born Ursel Mosenthal in Eisenach, Germany on October 20, 1920.  She emigrated to America in 1939 where she settled with her family in Kew Gardens, New York.  She had been trained, as a children’s nurse in England and this was to become her profession in the United States.   
Bill was the founder of S.A.M. (Sausalito Artists and Merchants) and was the talent behind the MarinScope column, “Thaddeus Tigger” in the 70s.   Joyce was very involved with the educational side of Sausalito.  They had no children of their own but were very strong supporters of the Sausalito Nursery School and the Sausalito – Marin City School system.
The following memoir is from an interview that I did with the couple in October, 1990:
Recalling how she got here, Joyce said, “I was living in New York at the time, the year was 1954 and I came out here for a vacation
“I remember that the first night I was here my friend from San Francisco brought me for dinner to Sausalito.   I was so impressed I thought that I was back in Italy and I decided then and there that this is where I would live.   I never went back to New York and I was able to get a job in San Francisco and every weekend I would come to Sausalito and walk around the streets and meet the people … not the tourists, the locals.
“In the spring of 1954 I met Bill Remack, I brought him to Sausalito, told him that this is where we would live.  Then in 1956 we were married, we lived in the Marina district in San Francisco.  For two years we saved money, every weekend we would come to Sausalito, eat at the Glad Hand restaurant where most of the local artists worked.  At that time you could get a good lobster dinner for $3.50 and hear all of the local gossip.  Because we came every weekend the locals started to get to know us, soon we were told about this house for sale.  It was not expensive but for us then it was a lot of money but we were able to put the funds together, and purchased the house for $21,000.”
Bill opened up a 5 and Dime Store on Bridgeway in the 1960s, it was located where the restaurant Winship used to be (it’s now a burger place).
He was very involved in the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce which, along with the social life that they were being introduced too was the beginning of their move into town politics.
“Sausalito is an educational experience,” Joyce would say.  “You could always meet people here who knew more than you did if you were willing to get out, shake a few hands. But you did need to have a bit of a thick skin while you are doing this.  Take for instance the Sausalito Nursery School -- the parties that they use to have were the real social events in this town. People who had kids, people who did not have kids, all got together supporting the school and helping fund many of their projects.
“On Thursday nights you could go to the movies where you could see two movies for the price of one.  Or you could go to the City Council meeting, that was always better than the movies.  That was when City Hall was on Bridgeway, the jail and Council meeting room were connected.
“In order to get to the jail you had to go through the Council meeting room so on Thursday night you not only got to hear what was going on in town but you also got to see who was being arrested.”
Joyce’s volunteer work included the Sausalito/Marin City school programs and helping Sausalito artists produce the first of many local art fairs where at that time only Sausalito residents could participate.  Having spent her early days in Sausalito at the Glad Hand, she wanted to give back to them; special events became a part of that process.
I asked her who was her favorite Sausalito Mayor?
“Sally Stanford, without a doubt, she could look at you, in five minute she could tell you just what she thought of you and she did.  Both Bill and I worked on her campaign to be Mayor; Bea Siedler was a big part of that campaign.  Sally’s campaign slogan was: ‘I’m running the largest restaurant in Sausalito, it’s a business.  I know who’s honest and who’s not and I’ll run your business for you.’  But she always felt that she lacked the one thing that she really wanted, that was to be accepted by the ladies at the Sausalito Woman’s Club.
“So, I became a member of the Woman’s Club, then I wanted to get Sally in but each time she was black-balled.  Years later I realized that one of Sally’s girls had married, was now a member of the Club, and that was why Sally could never become a member. No matter, Sally was on Council till her death.  Only in Sausalito.”
Joyce’s family is planning a memorial service for the end of this month in Santa Rosa.

Joyce Remak relaxing in Sausalito.  Photo by Steefenie Wicks

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