Cynthia M. Lloyd-Butler
1927 - 2016
Cynthia Marsh Lloyd-Butler a loving and devoted wife, mother, grandmother and friend passed away on October 29th, 2016, peacefully, at home with her husband James by her side, and her daughter, son, grandchildren and caregivers and dependents nearby.
Born Cynthia Dolores Frances Marsh on June 16, 1927, she was the daughter of Herminia Julia Oreña Marsh of Los Alamos and Los Angeles, and John Thomas Marsh of London. Cynthia’s early years were spent with her mother and father at Rancho La Lomita in Los Alamos, one of the sub tracts of Rancho Elena that had been owned by her paternal great grandfather, Gaspar Oreña and later, her grandfather Darío Oreña. After some years, her father, John, returned to his position in the British Merchant Navy, and he kept in constant contact with Cynthia by post. He sent her countless letters, books, etchings, and antiques from all over the world, which she cherished throughout her life. “Johnny” as she referred to her father, was assumed lost on a British Merchant Naval vessel in the surprise attack of Sydney Harbor in 1942, after which letters to him were returned “person not found”. His loss influenced her deeply. Cynthia cherished her father’s memory through her relationship with her father’s brother George, and later with her connections to her paternal cousins that she maintained throughout her life. Upon meeting Doris Marsh, her cousin and doppelgänger, for the first time in the early 1950s, Cynthia looked at her and exclaimed, “Me…but blond!” and immediately erupted into hugs and kisses.
After her early years with her mother and father at La Lomita, Cynthia moved with her mother to Los Angeles, where she lived in the family home of her grandparents Herminia Ortiz and Darío Oreña at 202 Van Ness Avenue. She was schooled at St. Brendan School, Los Angeles and continued to spend summers at Rancho La Lomita with her grand parents, her cousins and aunts. By no means a cowgirl as were many of her cousins, Cynthia was neither a fan of horses, or any livestock for that matter, owing in part to a fabled story where one of the ranch goats butted her into a pan of water.
After grade school in Los Angeles, Cynthia then graduated from Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy in La Canada 1945. At Flintridge, she developed her love for music and opera, and often wistfully confessed she always dreamed to be an opera singer, but was deprived of a singing voice and a bit dismayed when friends suggested she mouth and not sing the words. Never deterred, and always determined, Cynthia went on to USC where she obtained a degree in education in 1949 and put her degree to work teaching 2nd and 3rd grade for 8 years. It was during these years, that her sense of adventure, which she shared with both her mother and father, took hold. She loved to travel and was endlessly curious. One of her first adventures was a trip with her mother covering a vast portion of the 1,337 mile Alaska Highway which had just been completed in 1945, with a small group of intrepid travelers in a tour bus with no springs. In 1955, she traveled to Japan where she stayed for over a year, teaching school to children of American Dependents stationed in Tokyo. The trip to Japan was a three week voyage across the Pacific on a spartan Naval Vessel where she proudly became an expert at shuffle board. Upon arrival in post war Tokyo, she was billeted for a year in an apartment block in Marunouchi, which still stands and which her daughter and son, Camilla and Tomás, visited while retracing her path in Japan last autumn.
Of far greater importance to Cynthia than adventure, travel and career, were her husband, her family and the sense of place and stability she created for her family in her home and garden. That chapter of her life began soon after her year abroad, for soon after returning to California she was introduced to her future husband James Lloyd-Butler at a picnic organized by James’ aunt Josephine Edwards near the bridge over the Santa Ynez River. Cynthia and James Lloyd-Butler were married on February 9, 1957, at the Santa Barbara Mission the site of many ceremonies and celebrations of her California Ancestors, especially the Oreña family.
Cynthia and Jim began their married life in their home on The Broome Ranch, where James continued his agricultural career as the super intendant of row crops. It was in a cottage, near the Revlon Slough, that Cynthia began her life long work of raising and nurturing Camilla and Tomás. Eventually Cynthia and her family moved to her beloved home on “C” street where she took great pleasure in her garden and her home and where she said she never felt alone since she could always see the entire town drive by through her kitchen window. At her home in Oxnard, Cynthia perfected the art of motherhood. Long before “quality time” and virtual mothering, Cynthia was always home for her children. She was there to meet them when they came home from school, to help with homework, treat Camilla’s cheer leading injuries, or fix a “pilón” (snack). She could turn the most humble ingredients into delicious dinners, and nearly went into the cookie business supplying Tomás and most of his boarding school classmates while away at school. In her off time from motherhood, Cynthia became active in many organizations and devoted time to many charities, including The National Charity League, and the Alumnae of the Pi Beta Phi.
The next chapter of her life, brought Cynthia back to the ranch, this time to Rancho Santa Clara del Norte, where she moved with her husband and family into the Lloyd-Butler family home after James took over the management of his family’s property in 1982. Upon moving to The Ranch, Cynthia enabled the family home to evolve to reflect her own love for antique furniture and art, as well as of the long histories of both her family and that of her husband. Cynthia also updated the garden with influences from their travels, adding a white garden, patterned after one she and her husband had admired at Sissinghurst, in Kent. Cynthia also returned to teaching where she worked as a teacher’s aid in the El Rio school district for several years. Now, an accomplished wife and mother, she turned her attention grandmothering. She took great interest in each of her four grandsons’ nurturing, education and development. When asked, to encapsulate her memory into just one word, the four boys in rank order, remember: her laugh, her love, her cooking, her dedication. Cynthia was able to drag her ranch bound husband off on a few trips, where, like both her father and mother who loved exploring the world, she returned with objects and remembrances her children and grand children will never forget: a collection of minute sea shells from Hawaii, a lace Baptismal gown from Madrid for her grand children, and a collection of carved statues of the saints and of the Virgin Mary from Spain, Mexico, Italy and France.
Throughout her life, Cynthia was a devoted Catholic, and despite a long struggle with dementia, almost never missed Sunday Mass. Cynthia’s faith was complete in every respect. It centered on the teachings of The Catholic Church, the ritual of weekly and often daily mass, the power of prayer and the example and effort of charitable works outside The Church. She continued her work outside the church through her work with Ventura County Catholic Charities where she was a member of the Advisory Committee for many years, the Assistance League, and Las Patronas. She never forgot her prayers, in fact, her last words were the Hail Mary which she prayed in Spanish with her husband, and Lupe, her long time caregiver.
Cynthia is survived by her husband of 59 years, James Lloyd-Butler. She is also survived by her daughter Camilla Ross Lloyd-Butler Shafer, and Camilla’s husband Arthur Hammel Shafer and by their children James Shafer, and Weiler Worthington Shafer. She is further survived by her son Tomás Oreña Lloyd-Butler and by his two sons, Ross Oreña Lloyd-Butler and John Forderer Lloyd-Butler
A private rosary and vigil will be held in the family chapel at Rancho Santa Clara del Norte followed by a Requiem Mass at Santa Clara Church at 10:00AM, Monday November 7th. There will be a brief private internment ceremony and lunch will follow at Rancho Santa Clara del Norte at 12:15. Friends and family are welcome and encouraged to attend the Requieum Mass and lunch.
The family wishes to thank the nursing staff at St. John’s hospital, Cynthia’s devoted care givers, Lupe Gonzales and Rosa Lopez and Amanda Quist.
In lieu of flowers, friends may make donations to The Catholic Charities of Ventura Country, The Alzheimer's Association or a charity of their choice.