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Alice Alger Kladnik: 1906-2012

Editor, Activist, Tennis Teacher


There were few tennis courts in town that Alice didn’t play on at least once. Public or private, singles or doubles, it didn’t matter to her as long as she could play.

A founding member of the Santa Barbara Tennis Club, Alice played well into her 95th year. She asked that if this were noted when I wrote her obituary, to say it was “ … only because I had patient partners, and [I’d] like them to know I appreciated them.”

Born in Holly, Michigan, and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she was the first and second Wisconsin State Junior Women’s Tennis Champion and Wisconsin State Women’s Champion twice. When she and her husband, George, moved to Santa Barbara in 1945, she continued on the courts teaching the game to scores of children and adults from Montecito to Hope Ranch.

Alice Kladnik
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Courtesy Photo

Alice Kladnik

She was a lifelong self-improvement student. Clippings and pamphlets she collected over the years with tips for getting along with people and other how-to-better-oneself advice are still tucked into books and drawers, perhaps meant for us to find as gentle reminders from a mother to her children.

During her 67 years as a Santa Barbara resident, Alice, a staunch environmentalist and activist, immersed herself in many local volunteer activities until she retired at the age of 103.

With family being very important to her, she was one of the first volunteers to come forward when CALM opened its doors in 1969. Parent-child workshops were included in her efforts to bring help to those in need, and the Boy and Girl Scouts of America, American Field Service, Pink Ladies, and the Center for Successful Aging were even more organizations that benefited from her gifts of time. She did all this while caring for her own family and baking countless cookies and cupcakes for the PTA while her three children were in grade school at Franklin Elementary in the 1950s and ’60s.

An avid bird-watcher, and not afraid to get her hands dirty, Alice was down on the beaches as a member of GOO during the 1969 oil spill, cleaning tar off her beloved birds. Wildlife in general and the environment were high on Alice’s list of things to protect.

She managed to squeeze even more into her busy life with travel and cultural activities; Alice’s interests were broad. Any opportunity to meet people was embraced eagerly as she loved to talk, and within these new circles of friends she drew in people of all ages who have stayed in touch and mourn her passing.

Amazingly, Alice still had time to work from home for 30 years as a secretary and research assistant for UCSB. She also edited and typed scores of manuscripts for celebrated local authors and academics, including Ken Millar (Ross Macdonald), Margot Benary-Isbert, Immanuel Hsü, Harry Girvetz, Robert Easton, and Margaret Millar. As her children, my siblings and I were exposed to some of the sharpest minds in town as they came and went from our house, and we were smitten with the love of reading and learning because of it.

A dedicated reader herself, Alice put a high value on education her entire life. Per her wishes, she donated her body to UCLA for medical research, giving still, even after she is gone. Not able to pursue a medical degree due to the Depression, she finally made it to medical school at the age of 105!

Alice is survived by her devoted husband of 73 years, George Kladnik; children — George “Corky” Kladnik of Flagstaff, Arizona; Sandra Kladnik of Lake County, California; and Mary (Marci) Kladnik of Los Alamos, California; grandchildren — Rob Moser and Laura Moser of Flagstaff, Arizona; Krista Taner of Santa Barbara; Jennifer Siegel of Madison, Wisconsin; and Tiffany Chambers-Goldberg of Los Angeles; five great-grandchildren — James and Samantha Moser-Hampshire, Alexandra and Ryan Taner, and Maisy Blue Chambers-Goldberg; and cousins Elizabeth Alger, MD of Westfield, New Jersey, and Clement “Bud” Miner Jr. of Owosso, Michigan.

A celebration of life will be held at the Santa Barbara Tennis Club on Sunday, May 20 from 1-4 p.m. Parking is limited, so carpooling is recommended. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to CALM and Visiting Nurse & Hospice Care of Santa Barbara in Alice’s name.

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