Ethel Burnham Meece

1920 - 2018

  • 97 years old
  • Date of birth:  November 2nd, 1920
  • Place of birth:  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States
  • Date of passing:  July 10th, 2018
  • Place of passing:  Palo Alto, California, United States

This memorial website was created in the memory of our loved one, Ethel Meece, 97, born on November 2nd, 1920 and passed away on July 10th, 2018. We will remember her forever.

Ethel Burnham Meece was born on election day, Nov.2 1920, the first one in which women could vote, in which the new president was elected on his birthday. In childhood she loved acting in plays and writing for contests. She graduated from Classen High School in Oklahoma City in 1938, and then at the top of her class from Western College of Oxford Ohio in 1942, where she was editor of the campus newspaper. In 1946 she was among the first women to earn a master's degree at Harvard medical school, and did research with top scientists in Boston. She taught biology at Santa Clara University in the early 1960s, and then at Castilleja School in Palo Alto from 1968 to 1991, where she was head of the science department. She received the Outstanding Biology Teacher Award for California in 1972, and served on the committee writing the Advanced Placement biology test. She later worked for Roche drug company, representing the community on the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, checking experimental protocols for adherence to national standards, and led wildlife tours at Jasper Ridge for Stanford University. In 2002 she published a memoir covering her childhood and college years up to the time of her marriage and her first two children. Its title "Listening for the Rain Crow" reflected her particular love for birds. In later life she was an avid traveller, and shared her journeys with slide show presentations. She was married to Edward Meece, electronics engineer, co-founder of Pacifica Radio and symphony activist, from 1947 until his death in 1999, and to Ely Brandes, economist and SRI researcher, from 2006 until his death in 2013. Ethel Meece is survived by sons Eric, Edward and Gordon and grandchildren Natalie, Kathryn and Henry.

A celebration of life for Ethel Meece was held on August 3, from 3-5 PM, at Channing House ballroom, first floor, 850 Webster St. in Palo Alto.

Donations may be made to Castilleja School

or Symphony Silicon Valley

You can connect with son Eric at

More about Edward W. Meece at

Memorial Tributes
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Candle lit  by Eric Meece on July 19th, 2018

I have fond memories of learning about Biology my sophomore year.  My favorite part about her class was learning about genetics.  Mrs. Meece was a clear, caring teacher.  Her wealth of knowledge and command of the subject was an inspiration to generations of young women.

Andrea Amdahl Taylor '86

Candle lit  by Eric Meece on August 4th, 2018

I was Mrs. Meece's "replacement" (after a 2 year gap) at Castilleja-- though no one could actually replace her; the proverbial "hard act to follow." Judith Wagner, Castilleja 1993-2006

Candle lit  by Eric Meece on August 4th, 2018

Mrs. Meece inspired me to pursue a career in biology. Her passion for the subject was truly infectious! The world has lost a great resource in her passing. -- Megan R. Martinelli, Castilleja class of 1980

Candle lit  by Eric Meece on August 13th, 2018

I was so sorry to hear of Mrs. Meece's passing. She was a truly special woman, an exceptional educator, and an inspiration. I have so many special memories of classes with her. I'll miss her. My deepest condolences.
-- Deborah Eaton Beatty, Castilleja '71

Candle lit  by Eric Meece on September 15th, 2018

I am but one of the many “Casti girls” who had the great privilege of taking her biology class. Mrs. Meece left a strong impression on me, for her brilliance as a teacher and her enthusiasm for biology – and science in general. I can still hear her voice; she is always smiling.
– Catherine Mansell Mayo, from Basel Switzerland; class of '79

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