A Homestead Headlines Article by Chuck Oldenburg
Alexander Steele McCurdy was born in 1875 on a ranch in Bolinas. His wife, Mary Wilkins, was born in 1876, also on a ranch in Bolinas—her parents had come in 1852. A daughter, Mary Adeline McCurdy, was born in 1915 and a son, William Wilkins McCurdy. was born in 1916.
Having grown up on ranches, Alex and Mary were comfortable with the idea of moving their family to Hill Ranch, the house at 361 Ridgewood which had been the headquarters of the vast Dias dairy ranch. They rented the house from Ida Dias from the early 1920s until the early 1930s when they purchased it.
Alex McCurdy was Mill Valley chief of police from 1925 until 1935. He ran for county sheriff in 1930, but did not win the election. Alex died in 1936 at age 61. His wife Mary died in 1972 at age 96. She had lived over 50 years in the old Dias ranch house. Both McCurdy children were brilliant.
Mary McCurdy graduated from Tam High in 1932, and from UC Berkeley in 1936. She then began teaching English and History at Tam High. She was later chairperson of the physical education department, dean of girls, and assistant principal. In 1949 she married a Mill Valley postman named Baker. Their son Bill was born in 1952. The marriage did not last very long. Mary McCurdy Baker lived in the old Dias ranch house until her death in 1972. Bill Baker graduated from Tam High in 1970, attended College of Marin, and died from Hodgkin’s disease at age 30 in 1982.
William McCurdy graduated from Tam High in 1933. He was a great runner, winning the California High School title in the half-mile. He went on to run for Stanford University from which he graduated in 1937. He ran the Dipsea in 1938 (came in 8th), 1939 (10th), 1940 (3rd) and 1941 (best time trophy). After college, he worked for Fuller Paint and then went into the army, where he won awards for his athletic ability: “Captain William McCurdy scoring a record-breaking 692 out of a possible 700, smashed all previous record scores in the army’s physical efficiency tests—push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, squat jumps, 300 yard run carrying a 170 pound man for 100 yards in 18 seconds.” After the war he went to Springfield College in Massachusetts for a master’s degree in physical education. He went on to coach track and field at Harvard from 1949 to 1982. Harvard dedicated its new track facility in 1985 and named it the McCurdy Track.
If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.