Sheila Daar.
Sheila Daar. Courtesy family

Sheila Daar, June 25, 1943 – Sept. 5, 2020

Sheila Daar died early Sept. 5 after a long battle with dementia.  

It is very hard to describe in a few words Sheila Daar, as she was a real force of nature. The first words that come to mind: she was a real “Renaissance woman.” She had five extremely successful careers, was a very active retiree and an activist her entire life.

Sheila was an “Air Force brat”  and grew up in several places, including a few years in England. Her family settled in Vacaville where she went through high school and developed her early love of horses. She attended UC Berkeley where, as well as completing her studies, she was arrested during the Free Speech Movement and became an activist against the Vietnam War.  

She met Frank Daar through the California Democratic Party Convention supporting the head of the party who came out against the war. She and Frank married within the year and had an extremely strong marriage and partnership. They have one son, Noah Daar.

Sheila’s first career was as one of a triumvirate of editors for Ramparts Magazine, a radical magazine published in Berkeley. During those years, she was also, along with Frank, active with the Community for New Politics (CNP) which supported Robert Scheer for Congress in 1966, and later was a founding member of the Berkeley Coalition which fielded Loni Hancock for City Council in 1969. She went on to continue volunteering with Ron Dellums’ first campaign for Congress electing the first anti-war candidate running on that platform. She then helped form the April Coalition which,  in 1971, did succeed in electing Loni Hancock.  

After she left Ramparts, Sheila became involved in the movement for affordable and quality child care, which led to her becoming one of the founders of BANANAS which has continued to this day providing a clearing house for consumers and providers of child care.  

After her work in child care, Sheila went back to school to get a Masters in Ornamental Horticulture and taught at Merritt Junior College. There she had to fight fiercely as a woman in  the field and eventually left to work with Frank and their friends, George and Luanne Rogers in their own business growing plants and delivering them to Bay Area nurseries.  

Her next career focused on integrated pest management (IPM) and she founded, along with Bill and Helga Olkowski, the Bio-Integral Resource Center (BIRC). Sheila wrote, along with  the Olkowskis, Common-Sense Pest Control, which is still the bible of the “least-toxic solutions for your home, garden, pets and community.” Throughout that time, Sheila taught, gave lectures on IPM, was part of a United Nations task force on methyl bromide, and other worthy projects. 

In addition, during these work years, Sheila was manager of the Oakland Inter-faith Gospel Choir. In fact she was the choir’s manager and booking agent, landing gigs for the choir throughout the country and the world: including at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, in Israel, as a back-up to Linda Ronstadt. Sheila helped elevate the choir to major significance. She also was a member of Girlfriendz, a female vocal group directed by Ellen Robinson, who performed in various venues in the Bay Area.

When Sheila retired from BIRC, she followed her childhood dream to be a cowgirl, bought a horse, and became a competitive team penner.  

In 1971, Sheila brought together a group of women to support Loni Hancock in her job on the Berkeley City Councl and the women’s group continues until today. 

Sheila was fiercely loyal to her friends and took no prisoners when she encountered prejudice, narrow-mindedness, bigotry or general unfairness. Sheila lit up a room when she entered it, and, with her positive attitude, she carried her friends and family through many difficulties.  

Sheila is survived by her brother, Jeff Linder, and sister-in-law, Joan Linder of Salinas; brother Greg Linder of Carmel; niece Kelsey Linder of Monterey; and cousins Terry Goss and Keith Tindal.

To say we lost a huge presence, a positive spirit, a profoundly accomplished woman, wife, mother, sister and friend, is a major understatement.