Camille LeGrand, a crusading women's rights attorney turned energetic Guerneville businesswoman, died Dec. 21 after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 68.
After a successful career practicing law in San Francisco and advocating for women's issues, LeGrand retired to the west county, purchasing the vacation rental firm Russian River Getaways in 1997.
She started with just a handful of listings, but with the help of her daughter Rachel, grew the firm into one of the largest vacation rental companies in the county.
"The best description of her was she was a force of nature," said Rachel LeGrand of Petaluma. "She was so intense and so interested and so energetic, and she had a very unique point of view."
LeGrand was born in Texas in 1944, grew up in Cincinnati, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in English. She married her high school sweetheart, following him to Montana while he served in the Air Force.
Around that time, LeGrand discovered the writings of famed feminist author and activist Betty Friedan. After a divorce, she remarried and moved to Merced.
She and her new husband became hippies and moved to Haight Street in San Francisco, where her daughter was born in 1969. She later became a lesbian, left her husband and went to law school at UC Berkeley.
After graduating in 1973, she was one of the first female attorneys to open her own firm in San Francisco.
"She was not happy with the idea of working for anybody and never has been," Rachel LeGrand said.
In addition to her practice, LeGrand championed changes to laws and institutions to foster equality for women.
These included working on legislation around rape laws and exposing the problem of sexual abuse in psychiatric institutions, Rachel LeGrand said.
After she retired to Guerneville, LeGrand brought some of that same passion and activism to her new business.
She was deeply involved in helping craft workable regulations for vacation rentals, which the county implemented in 2010.
She was also active in the effort to save Armstrong Woods State Natural Reserve, whose closure could have harmed tourism to the Guerneville area.
In recognition of her efforts, LeGrand was recently honored with a Spirit of Sonoma award from the Sonoma County Tourism Bureau.
"She found ways to incorporate her activism with her livelihood in ways that were really effective throughout her entire professional career," her daughter said.
In recent years, she was able to travel more, visiting Papua New Guinea and India with family.
Visitation will be from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at Pleasant Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary in Sebastopol. Flowers, roses in particular, are welcome.
— Kevin McCallum