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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

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David Harrah

Jacques Mequet Littlefield, Tank Scholar and Collector

Jacques Mequet Littlefield, who assembled one of the largest private collections of military vehicles in the world and championed open space in the mid-Peninsula, has died in Portola Valley, California. He was 59 years old and had battled cancer for the past decade.

Jacques’ fascination with armored vehicles began in his childhood when he started building plastic models of tanks. While in college, he built his first scale model, radio-controlled tank. He acquired his first full-sized vehicle in 1975. In 1998 Jacques set up the Military Vehicle Technology Foundation to manage his collection of over one hundred fifty vehicles and restore new additions. The collection ranges from a World War II era U.S. Army M3A1 wheeled scout car, the first acquisition, to a Soviet-era mobile Scud Missile launcher, and includes such famous tanks as the U.S. Sherman and Patton class; U.K. Centurion, Conqueror and Chieftain; German WWII vehicles including a Panther; and Soviet-era Russian tanks. The complete inventory is available at www.milvehtechfound.com. Jacques was considered a scholar and expert on the history of armored warfare and the foundation helps serve the interests of authors, historians, educators, the defense industry, veterans groups, model makers and the entertainment industry. The collection is housed at Pony Tracks Ranch in the hills above Portola Valley, which the family acquired in the mid-1970s. Pony Tracks was the country estate of former San Francisco mayor and California governor James "Sunny Jim" Rolph, Jr. Over the years, Jacques restored many of the old buildings on the ranch, such as the stables, and acquired additional property helping to maintain open space in the hills above Portola Valley.

Jacques was the son of the late Edmund Wattis Littlefield and Jeannik Mequet Littlefield. He was born November 21, 1949 in San Francisco, California. His father was CEO of Utah International and served on many corporate boards during his career. He is survived by his mother, a strong supporter of the arts and a member of the Chairman’s Council of the San Francisco Opera; his brother, Edmund Littlefield, Jr.; and sister, Denise Littlefield Sobel.

Jacques also is survived by his wife, Sandy Montenegro Littlefield, and five children: David, Scott, Allison, Jacques Jr. and Jeannik, and one grandson, Kingsley.

Jacques grew up in Burlingame and attended Cate School in Carpinteria, California before studying at Stanford University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in 1971 and an MBA two years later. He worked for Hewlett Packard as a manufacturing engineer before focusing solely on building his museum and restoration facility.

Jacques served on the boards of the George S. Patton Museum in Fort Knox, Kentucky, the Cate School, the Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education, the Hoover Institution, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Filoli Center. He was a member of the Bohemian Club and Captain of the Sempervirens camp.

A viewing will be held at Roller Hapgood & Tinney Funeral Directors, 980 Middlefield Rd in Palo Alto, on Saturday, January 10, 3:00 to 6:00, and a public memorial service for Jacques will be scheduled for the near future.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a contribution to one of the organizations Jacques supported: The Patton Museum, Cate School, the Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education, the California Academy of Sciences, the Hoover Institution or the Filoli Center.

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