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Susan Trescher

1928 - 2012, Santa Barbara

Susan Trescher left this world behind to pursue new adventures on July 26, 2012.

She was born in Glendale in 1928 to George Trescher and Susan Shea Trescher. Sue graduated from UC Berkeley and taught briefly before deciding to pursue a law degree. She was accepted to Harvard Law School as a member of the 3rd class to admit women and graduated in 1955, one of 8 women in a class of 440.

At the time Sue graduated women lawyers were, in her words, an anomaly. She applied for 150 jobs and went on 125 interviews. The state attorney general told Sue they already had two females and that was enough. Others told her their clients would not accept women as competent, or they didn’t want to waste time training her because she would get married and leave.

Sue persisted and found employment with Columbia Pictures in the field of copyright and trademark law. When she sought to advance and applied for another position, they wouldn’t consider her because they didn’t want to expose her to the foul language used in production. Sue left Columbia to work as a law clerk in the U. S. District Court in Los Angeles for a few years before returning to Berkeley where she was worked as a legal consultant for the Fund for the Republic Labor Project, a research attorney with the Continuing Education of the Bar Program in Berkeley, and in private practice.

Sue was drawn to Santa Barbara in 1964 and she was hired by the Santa Barbara County Counsel as the first woman offered a full-time permanent position as an attorney. After brief periods in other departments she was assigned to assist the Planning Commission and quickly developed expertise in land law use. With her guidance County Supervisors, the Architectural Board of Review, and other county departments developed the policies, procedures and regulations that have helped maintain the natural environment in Santa Barbara. She retired from the county in 1982 to pursue a private practice, and became the independent counsel for the Santa Barbara County Health Authority.

In the legal community she was a member of Legal Aid Foundation and Santa Barbara Women Lawyers, serving as President on each of their boards, and was also on the board of the Santa Barbara County Bar Association. In 1998 Sue was honored with the “Attorney of the Year” award from the Santa Barbara Women Lawyers.

As a stockholder in Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, for many years she suggested to the all-male Board of Directors that they seek a qualified woman for the Board. In 1998 she decided to take the matter into her own hands. She solicited proxies in advance of the annual shareholders meeting where, with shareholder support, she became the first woman to serve on the Board as well as the only Board member with government legal experience. She was only able to serve a few years due to a mandated retirement age for Directors.

Always committed to her country and community, Sue served on the Democratic Party Central Committee as well as the La Mesa Neighborhood Association. She regularly watched the local government meeting broadcasts even after she retired.

Prior to the time an easement was granted to the City and a more permanent access was built, Sue personally maintained the beach access at Mesa Lane. While she could not act in an official capacity due to her work for the county at that time, she was very proud of her involvement in keeping the area from Mesa Lane to Hendrys Beach a place for dogs to run free. She loved to walk her dogs on the beach, and joined them in frequent ocean swims.

Sue travelled all over the world, and was often accompanied by her beloved dogs on her international destinations. Among her favorite destinations were Italy and Greece studying ancient mosaics, and walking the wilderness of Australia.

Sue was preceded in death by her older brother George Trescher of New York. She continued a one-sided conversation with him after his death, and will now enjoy hearing his responses. She was also predeceased by life companions Siobhan, Conn, Shaune, Cheno, Chame, Harvey, and Happy.

She is survived by her beloved life companion Smokey, cousin Mike Mitchell and wife Yolanda of Ventura, friends Laura Rasmussen, Lee Stone, and Sandra Howard of Santa Barbara and Maureen Brunt of Australia, and caregivers Miriam Duarte, Susan Magiera and Mary Reese-Upton. She will be missed by community activist associates, the legal community, and her many friends. At her request there will be a private celebration of her life.

While Sue accomplished many things for which she will be remembered, those who knew her well will remember her best for her infectious smile. When she smiled you couldn’t help but smile with her.

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