Donald Lee Margerum: 1926-2020

We loved our father for years and years
He is gone now and all we have are memories and tears
We miss his love, laughter, and voice
We are all alone, we go on, we have no choice
—Adapted from the poem “Alone Now” by Barbara Margerum

Our father was an engineer to his core; he would graph years of lap times of his three children as we competed in our backyard pool at our Woodland Hills home; he kept decades of his gin rummy scores with our mother; Excel allowed him to easily keep track of his miles per gallon; and he was able to meticulously track his favorite subjects: fracking and alternative energy.

Don was deeply interested in lifelong learning, politics at every level, and in the well-being of the Santa Barbara and Montecito communities. He spent hours with colleagues trying to get the utilities undergrounded in Montecito and was deeply disappointed that this important safety and beautification effort was not realized in his lifetime.

In the early ’80s, our father embraced and funded the concept of a wine bar — the Wine Cask — which at the time was unique. That successful seed was instrumental in introducing fine wine and cuisine to the Santa Barbara community and becoming a part of Santa Barbara’s history. Wine Cask’s promotion of local wines was a fundamental building block to the awareness of Santa Barbara County wines in the country. Wine Cask was one of a few restaurants in the world to receive the coveted Wine Spectator Grand Award for the wine list.

Despite growing up in Missouri, Don developed a love of sailing after being stationed in Monterey, California, while in the Navy. His passion for racing sailboats never waned even if it was just between two boats — he always wanted to race! The Navy also propelled and supported him to obtain a degree in electrical engineering from Northwestern University in Illinois, after which he and his wife, Barbara, came to California to raise a family and pursue an acclaimed career in the booming aerospace industry.

His enduring marriage of 71 years to his high-school sweetheart, Barbara Barden, was an example of his loyalty and character. Don and Barbara spent the last 25 summers at their beloved Colorado cabin, fly fishing, reading, hiking, and chopping wood. The cabin ping-pong tournaments satisfied his competitive juices — and he was always the family champion.

He had a keen sense of humor and loved to tell jokes, laugh, and eat. His drink was a Perfect Manhattan, and he enjoyed wine and food at the table with his extended family.

Our father was an evangelical atheist, a proud member of the Humanist Society and of Santa Barbara’s Unitarian Society. His conversion rate was zero.

He was a loving, brutally honest, and sweet father, and we miss him immensely. We sign this remembrance Doug, Amy, and Hugh — his children, youngest to oldest — just as we lined up on Christmas mornings.


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