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Margaret Ann Lawrence

1922 - 2016

Margaret Ann Lawrence (Marge) was born on January 19, 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio and died peacefully at age 94 on October 11, 2016.

Marge was an only child who grew up with a colorful assortment of relatives in northern Ohio. She graduated from Amherst Central High School in Amherst, OH and went on to Ohio State University and Kent State University, where she graduated in 1944 with a BS in Education.

Marge was a fiercely independent woman, and in many ways, ahead of her time. She was only 4’10” tall, with a short haircut, a pixie face, and bright green eyes that could go from an amused twinkle to a steely glare when she was challenged.

Marge left Ohio in 1945 to play her part in World War II, training at American University in Washington DC with the Red Cross, and then on to the Pacific Theater where she worked in rest camp recreation administration, air evacuation, and rehabilitation. Marge told harrowing tales of accompanying both wounded men and bodies back to the U.S. on seemingly endless plane flights across the Pacific Ocean. Marge suffered from PTSD after this experience, and from that point on she became a staunch advocate for empowering girls.

In the late 1940s Marge owned and operated the Holiday House Girls Camp on Lake Erie, an outdoor enrichment camp for girls ages 6 to 21.

In 1947 Marge took the position of Executive Director of the Girls Club in Long Beach, CA, which became a model for the Pacific Coast in the late 1940s. In 1951 she returned to the eastern U.S. to Erie PA and spent 3 years as the Executive Director of the Erie County Council of Girl Scouts, overseeing camping programs, selecting and establishing camp sites, as well as a variety of administrative duties.

Marge moved back to California in 1953, to Santa Barbara, and spent 6 years doing a variety of free lance jobs, including writing, photography, layout, and copy editing for various magazines and newspapers both locally and nationally. Long-time Goleta residents may remember Marge’s “Hi Neighbor,” column in the Goleta Valley Times. Marge was a lifelong car enthusiast and wrote many entertaining articles about “California Hot Rods” for major car magazines.

After a two-year stint at the Dos Pueblos Orchid Company in Goleta where she did everything from secretarial work to guiding tours and creating brochures, she was hired to the position of Executive Director of the Santa Barbara Girls Club, where she spent 6 years expanding the program that eventually served 280 girls, 5 days a week, year round. She was instrumental in raising the money to buy the land and construct a Girls Club building. The land was purchased, but Marge finally resigned in 1963 in frustration at not being able get the building process moving forward.

In 1966 (at age 44) Marge received her California Teaching Credential from UCSB and worked as a Physical Education and Theater Arts teacher at Goleta Valley Junior High until her retirement in 1982. Many Santa Barbara and Goleta residents fondly remember her theater productions.

Soon after Marge arrived in Santa Barbara, she purchased property on Crescent Drive in the San Roque neighborhood, and she and her father Walter built a small house on a hillside with views of the ocean from the back porch. She kept 2 horses behind the house and reminisced about how she had been able to ride them up La Cumbre Road, and across Foothill Road, onto miles of trails. She always had a dog and a variety of cats, and made friends with neighborhood pets, many of whom visited her daily, with or without their owners.

Over the decades, Marge became a well-known neighborhood character who was acquainted with most everyone in the Center Ave/Crescent Drive circle area. Her neighborhood friendships spanned decades, and as she aged there were many who regularly checked in on her and helped with chores and errands. Whether your kids were throwing stones, or your dog was limping, or your car engine sounded off kilter, Marge would be sure to let you know.

Marge’s beefed up black 1969 Chevy pickup truck, her pride and joy, was an iconic landmark in the neighborhood for nearly 40 years. The sight of a tiny white-haired lady with a baseball cap driving a large antique pickup was a familiar sight to residents on the west side of Santa Barbara.

In her last decade, Marge lived with a neighbor and then moved to Alexander Gardens, an assisted living facility on Santa Barbara Street where she was an active resident, particularly enjoying bingo games, flower arrangement and the various forms of musical entertainment provided by Santa Barbara residents.

A memorial service will be held for Marge at 3 p.m. on Monday Oct 31 (Halloween was her favorite holiday), at Alexander Gardens, 2120 Santa Barbara Street Santa Barbara CA 93105.

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