Saryl Von der Porten

Saryl Von der Porten, 77, a member of an 1890s Santa Rosa family, shared a life of adventure and history with her husband and family.

The former Santa Rosa resident died Feb. 28 at a San Francisco hospital due to complications stemming from an infection.

She was married 56 years to Edward Von der Porten, a longtime Santa Rosa High School history teacher and Santa Rosa Junior College archeology instructor.

The couple, often along with their two sons, traveled extensively in Europe and Mexico finding pieces of the past.

"We traveled a great deal, always with a purpose. We were out there doing something like chasing our galleon down in Mexico or interviewing people in Germany on some topic we were involved in," said Ed Von der Porten.

"We made some incredible friends, saw some incredible sights," he said.

Saryl Corrick was born in Chicago. Through her father, a native Santa Rosan, she was a member of the Corrick family that came to Santa Rosa in the late 19th century.

She was raised in the Midwest but moved to San Francisco with her parents and younger brother as a teen.

She met Ed Von der Porten while she was a student at San Francisco State College. She graduated from the college and the couple married in 1954. They raised two sons.

In 1960 they moved to Santa Rosa into the eastside Corrick family home of her grandparents.

Saryl Von der Porten taught for a few years, including a stint at Waugh Elementary School. She was offered the job of principal but decided she wanted to be a full-time mother and homemaker, her husband said.

She was a regular volunteer in many areas and passed on a legacy of the importance of volunteering to her family, said son Michael Von der Porten of Santa Rosa.

She helped out at her sons' schools and with their PTAs, was an avid blood donor and helped various charities over the years, he said.

"She passed that on. I volunteer everywhere I've ever lived," her son said.

But Saryl Von der Porten also was a partner in her husband's many adventures in the world, including looking for sunken ships and World War II artifacts.

Their frequent travels around Europe mostly were made in a Volkswagen camper. They went so often that the couple sent a VW camper overseas. It was kept in Rotterdam, ready for their next trip.

The couple used it more than 30 years, including a last trip to Europe in 2007 when the engine finally blew, Ed Von der Porten said.

Almost a dozen trips to Baja by the couple led to the finding of the wreck site of a 1576 Manila galleon.

The couple moved to San Francisco in 1985. She managed the Treasure Island Museum Association and her husband was museum director.

She was a former president and active member of the Santa Rosa branch of the American Association of University Women. She also was a member of the Explorers Club, Westerners and other historical associations.

She was accomplished in cooking, needle point and she played bridge for more than 50 years. She still was playing and stitching until she became ill in February, said her son.

She was predeceased by son Eric Von der Porten in 2008.

As well as her son and her husband she is survived by her brother, Douglas Corrick of Fremont and four grandchildren.

Following her request no memorial service will be held. Memorial donations may be made to a favorite educational institution.

- Randi Rossmann

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