Lawrence W. (Bill) Lane

Year Awarded - 2008

The Woodside-area Horse Owners Association is especially delighted this year to name to its Hall of Fame one of our most distinguished Peninsula residents: Lawrence W. (Bill) Lane of Portola Valley. Not only is he the recipient of accolades, awards, and honors far too numerous to mention, he is equestrian extraordinaire – for he has continually championed the overriding importance of horses in preserving and maintaining the rural environments still existing on the Peninsula, primarily in Woodside and Portola Valley.

Bill is an articulate spokesman on behalf of open space and the value it adds to our communities. He was a founder of the Town of Portola Valley and its first elected Mayor. He tirelessly continues to contribute his wisdom and vision on the issues of the day confronting Portola Valley, San Mateo County, and our State. But Bill has never limited his concerns simply to local interests, for he has been summoned to service on the national scene as well. Bill’s commentary has been especially sought by the Department of Interior in Washington; he has served on numerous advisory committees, many of which have been focused on environmental issues affecting management and stewardship of our National Parks, the Bureau of Land Management, oceans, and deserts, as well as tourism and international trade. Perhaps his most illustrious appointment was that of United States Ambassador to Australia from 1985 to 1989; he is still known affectionately as “Mr. Ambassador.”

But it is to our local equestrian community that he has made such major and significant contributions, for which we honor him on our Day of the Horse. He is a long-time member of the Mounted Patrol, and, along with his father, was one of the earliest members of the Shack Riders; he is also a member of the famed Rancheros of Santa Barbara. Perhaps the Shack Riders are especially indebted to Bill for his skilful negotiations with Stanford, of which Bill is a loyal alumnus, when the institution determined to shut down the original Shack on Jasper Ridge; Bill successfully spoke up for an alternate location, on which the new Shack now stands. And back in the early eighties, it was Bill Lane who stepped up to chair the whirlwind campaign to save Stanford’s historic Red Barn, which had been about to collapse for lack of maintenance. Bill’s efforts were heroic – he raised half a million dollars in 6 weeks. After meticulous restoration, Bill staged a memorable festival, at which he unveiled the sculpture he himself had funded of Governor Stanford’s famous trotter, Electioneer. And so when the idea to restore the Folger Estate Stable in Wunderlich Park began to germinate, to whom did the fledgling committee turn? Of course – it was Bill Lane who gave the lead gift to get that campaign rolling, and it is he who has continued to provide major financial support to that project, ensuring its success.

Most of us know that Bill Lane, together with his brother Mel, were the former publishers of Sunset Magazine and Books, an enterprise their father, L.W. Lane Senior had founded. But it must be noted that along with all his illustrious activities and accomplishments, Bill remains proud of his early years as a packer and mountain guide in Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks – and for those of us old enough to remember, he can still bellow: “Let the fire fall!!”

It is with great admiration and appreciation for his numerous contributions to our equestrian communities that WHOA! is honored to name Bill Lane as its 2008 recipient of our Hall of Fame award.


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