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robin daly

Former Belvedere citizen of the year known as volunteer, fundraiser, charitable hostess


Barbara "Robin" Snow Kamanski Daly, a socialite, volunteer and charitable hostess who was Belvedere's 2000 citizen of the year, died of complications of pneumonia following a year of declining health. She was 86 and had been living at The Tamalpais retirement center in Greenbrae since 2006.
While Washington, D.C., had its Perle Mesta and Evangeline Bruce, Belvedere had Mrs. Daly, a famous organizer of local people and events for charitable and educational causes and the community good. She also worked across the aisle in Tiburon.
In The Ark's 2001 citizen-of-the-year profile of Mrs. Daly, The Ark wrote: "Whenever someone needed to raise money or arrange something or host a charity event or make something happen, they would call on Robin," adding that she had a "great charm, a very charitable nature, contagious enthusiasm and the irresistible urge to work unstintingly for any organization with which she's involved."
"What a loss," said former Belvedere Mayor Corinne Wiley. "Robin was a great organizer. She would take charge of everything, but she was always generous and gracious."
Projects that Mrs. Daly worked on included Belvedere's 1996 centennial celebration, the Concerts in the Park series, Belvedere Block Party Night and the Belvedere Tennis Club's national youth tennis tournaments.
In years past, she reportedly hosted hundreds of visiting tennis players in her home during the tournaments.
Mrs. Daly was disaster captain for her West Shore Road neighborhood and worked on Belvedere's disaster preparedness program.
"I was told to take it on and run with it, and so I did," she once said in an interview. She got 280 people trained.
In 1987, Mrs. Daly was inducted as the first woman member of the Rotary Club of Tiburon-Belvedere. Until 1999, she was an active member, hosting exchange students and launching Rotary's popular annual domino tournament.
She was a charter member of the board of trustees of the Peninsula Library Foundation, now the Belvedere-Tiburon Library Foundation. As a member of the foundation's Rare Books auxiliary, she was involved in planning and staging many fundraising events for the library.
"She was full of ideas, full of positive energy, and would do whatever needed to be done to get things done," said library Executive Director Deborah Mazzolini. "She always wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time."
It was former Belvedere Mayor Charles Auerbach who tagged Mrs. Daly with the "hostess with the mostest" moniker.
"If you haven't been to a party at Robin Daly's house, you haven't been to a party," he once said.
At the San Francisco Yacht Club, where she was a longtime member, Mrs. Daly also organized many events.
"She has always had a fertile mind for fundraising parties," the late Joanne Horton, an artist who volunteered with the library, said of Mrs. Daly in 2001.
When she still lived in Belvedere, every closet in her West Shore home was stocked with linens, place settings, decorations and props for parties, which she also lent to others for fundraisers, her son said.
When she was active in the National Public School Volunteer Program, she solicited and received funding from Levi Strauss, ARCO, International Paper and Standard Oil.
She launched the school volunteer program at Redwood High School and built up a core of 100 volunteers that continued after she was gone. In the late 1970s, she ran Redwood's youth tennis program fundraiser.
She served on the board of trustees at Dominican College, now University, of California in San Rafael from 1980 to 1990, at least one of them as chair; it was a board on which her husband also had served. In 2013, her contributions were honored when Dominican named her a recipient of its Sister M. Aquinas Nimitz Distinguished Service Award.
She also was a longtime member of the board of St. Helena Hospital in Napa County.
One Christmas, she organized 22 women to make gift bags filled with toiletries for the women of the Homeward Bound homeless shelter in Novato. She continued the tradition every year.
"We are blessed to have such a wonderful example of giving, purely in the spirit of giving, always from the heart," her daughter-in-law, Noelle Kamanski, once told The Ark. "She gives financially as well as with her time, her blood, sweat and tears. Robin is always thinking of others and how she can be of help."
Mrs. Daly grew up in Piqua, Ohio, in a family of seven children. At Piqua High School, she was the first female member of her high school band and its first drum majorette. She caught the eye of a U.S. Air Force general, who recruited her to lead the Air Force marching band, based in Long Beach. She moved to California in about 1948 and married Charles Kamanski, an Air Force pilot she met here.
After attending Los Angeles City College for two years, Mrs. Daly got a job at a film studio. She moved to 20th Century Fox, where she became secretary to Irwin Allen, the king of hit disaster movies such as "Towering Inferno" and "The Poseidon Adventure." Her children grew up playing on sets for the television series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" and "Land of the Giants." Eventually she was promoted to the job of personal secretary to Dennis Carothers Stanfill, the studio head, a role in which she served for several years before her move to the Bay Area.
After her divorce from her first husband, she met and married George Daly, a Levi Strauss executive. They moved to Belvedere in 1973, and their younger children attended local schools.
Mrs. Daly hosted foreign exchange students many times. One student from Japan became like one of her own family.
George Daly died in 1980.
Mrs. Daly is survived by three children from her first marriage, Chuck Kamanski of Belvedere, Paul Kamanski of San Diego and Brad Kamanski of Flagstaff, Ariz.; two sisters, Pam Green of Troy, Ohio, and Lynn Leyden of Sedona, Ariz.; a brother, Norbert Schnippel of McLean, Va.; two grandchildren, Sophie and Tessa; a stepdaughter, Colleen Daly Zeman of Beverly Hills; and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Her other brothers, Phil, Richard and James Schnippel, predeceased her.
A memorial service will be held 1-4 p.m. Sept. 6 at the San Francisco Yacht Club, 98 Beach Road, Belvedere.

(Published August 31, 2016)


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