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Mary Lou Dangerfield

1919 - 2007, Santa Barbara

Mary Lou Dangerfield was born Mary Louise Schott on April 1, 1919, in Denver, Colorado, where her maternal grandfather had been superintendent of the Denver union train depot. Her mother, Alice Touhy, was a nurse when she met Mary Lou's father, Max Schott, while he was recovering from a bout of typhoid. Mary Lou was the youngest of seven children. The family moved to a home on Alameda Padre Serra in Santa Barbara in the 1920's though they maintained connections with Colorado--the location of the Climax Molybdenum Mine, of which Max was founder and president--and New York City, where the company had corporate offices. Though Mary Lou's formal schooling was intermittent, she traveled extensively with her family in Europe and spent much of her early adulthood in New York and Washington, D.C. She developed a passionate interest in modern art as well as Native American pottery and costume. Mary Lou was also an admirer and collector of the works of her close friends Howard Warshaw, Miguel Marina and her brother in law, Channing Peake. Throughout her life she was friends with graphic artists, actors and musicians on both coasts. In 1940 she met the English historian and journalist George Dangerfield in New York City. They married in 1941 and their first child Mary Jo was born in New York in 1942, shortly before George was inducted into the U.S, Army. He served first in Texas then, after the Normandy invasion, in France until the end of the war, when he was discharged with the rank of sergeant. After the war, the couple and their daughter moved to a beach house on Padaro Lane in Carpinteria, where, where they lived until 1960, with two lengthy sojourns in Tucson and New York. George won the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes for his book The Era of Good Feelings in 1953. In 1955 the couple's daughter Hilary was born at Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara. In 1956, their son Tony was born in New York City while George was researching a biography of Robert R. Livingston. Their youngest child Elizabeth died shortly after her birth in 1960. That year the family moved to their hilltop house on Toro Canyon Road, where Mary Lou spent the next thirty-five years of her life. George Dangerfield died in 1986, at the age of 82. Like her parents, her sisters (Alice, Helen, and Katy), and her husband, Mary Lou was a lifelong civil rights advocate and had close connections with the NAACP during the height of that organization's activism in the 1950's and 60's. Mary Lou was a devoted and creative gardener and with great reluctance gave up her beautiful garden for an apartment in downtown Santa Barbara in the 1990's. She spent her last years as a well- loved resident of the Health Center at Valle Verde, to whose devoted staff her children are profoundly grateful. Mary Lou is survived by her daughter Hilary Fabre and her son Tony Dangerfield, three grandchildren, David Lewis, Mimi Xia Rogers and Frieda Dangerfield, and her two elder sisters, Alice Richards and Helen Pedotti. Her older sister, Katy Peake, and her eldest daughter, Mary Jo Lewis, predeceased her. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The NAACP, The American Friends Service Committee or to The Schott Center for Adult Education.

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