Michael Margaret Stewart
1952 - 2015
Michael Margaret Stewart succumbed to ovarian cancer on the evening of October 22, 2015 at Serenity House in Santa Barbara. When her doctor told her on April 15, 2015 that she had “two to three months, maybe six at the most” to live, in typical feisty style, Michael outlived the longest prognosis by a week.
Michael burst into the world on December 28, 1952 in Paris, France to Margaret and William Stewart. Her American born father, Colonel William Stewart was stationed as a military attaché in Paris at the time, having met and married his British wife in 1950.
Returning to the U.S., now with two younger children, the Stewarts moved to Santa Monica, California where Michael would spend her formative years attending Lincoln Jr. High and Santa Monica High school, forging early friendships that would last throughout her life.
Michael's grandfather founded an orchid business as a hobby and had a vacation home that later became her father and mother’s home in Hope Ranch.
Now living in Santa Barbara, Michael met and married her first husband, Justin Hodges. They later divorced.
Michael met Steve Cowper at a New Year’s Eve party at Nipper’s in Montecito in 1984. They married and moved to Alaska where Michael helped him run and win his Democratic campaign for Governor of Alaska in 1986. Michael was active as First Lady and launched a reading program, “Look to A Book” to encourage reading, especially in under-serviced native villages throughout the state.
It was there, that their beloved son Wade Cowper was born on August 29, 1986. After Steve finished his term as governor, the family returned to Santa Barbara. When they divorced in 1991, Michael raised Wade here and practiced law.
Initially, Michael worked with Jackie Misho, Anna Karczag and later forged a nearly 10-year partnership with Marty Cohn, specializing in family law up until a few months before her passing.
Michael lived her life with passion and conviction. She exercised daily, loved riding her bike and took bike trips through Europe and wine country while savoring gourmet cuisine and fine wines. Her son Wade often accompanied her. A gracious hostess, she loved gathering her friends for dinner parties at her home. In her later years, she enjoyed the companionship of her trusted friend, Norman Colavincenzo, sharing fine meals and wine with him.
Michael is survived by many loyal friends (you know who you are), an incredible team offering Michael exceptional support these past few months. Friends visited, brought flowers, helped with daily tasks, kept her company during her last months and held her hand.
Wade and friends extend profound gratitude to her caregivers--the angel nurses and aides at Serenity House who were extraordinarily patient and caring including Kathy, Anne, and palliative care physician, Dr. Michael Kearney. A particular thank you to Marsha Goldman of Visiting Nurse and Hospice and Radhule Weininger. Both provided many months of exceptional emotional support to Michael as her health declined, but her fighting spirit never failed.
Donations in Michael’s memory can be made to Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara or Serenity House.