Edna Virginia Hesthal

Date of Birth

November 9, 1916

Date of Death

March 8, 2009

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Edna Virginia Hesthal, a talented and creative artist, died peacefully at her home on Sunday, February 8.

Edna was born in National City, California in 1916, and moved to Coronado in 1920. Her passion for swimming blossomed when she was a child swimming in the Coronado Bay, and she later became an excellent swimmer competing in the North Island to Point Loma Channel swim and the La Jolla rough water swim. Edna was so passionate about swimming she extended her skills to include diving. She dove competitively in Tent City (Coronado) and did exhibition diving at the Aqua Calliente Country Club in Mexico. She also swam in Billy Rose’s Aquacade at the San Francisco Exposition in 1939-1940, doing synchronized swimming, and swam part way between the mainland and Alcatraz Island as part of a publicized relay race against a ferry boat.

Edna attended San Diego State University for a year, and three years at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, where she met her husband William Hesthal. Edna then became Art Director of a San Francisco advertising agency prior to moving to Santa Barbara in 1942.

Edna’s connection to the Santa Barbara community, and those in need, led her to participate and contribute to numerous organizations. She served on the board of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for ten years, and was with the Children’s Home Society for ten years.

Edna also perused her artistic talents by studying sculpture and later became an accomplished ceramicist, even creating her own glazes. She taught her techniques for 25 years and sold pottery at Renaissance Fairs and at local artisan shops.

Edna was driven to learn, teach and participate throughout her lifetime. Her profound connection to nature led her to join the Bonsai Club of Santa Barbara in 1974. She began nurturing and maintaining many beautiful Bonsais, and after developing her skills, she successfully competed in many Southern California Bonsai shows. Edna also collected and showed Suiseki, or viewing stones, creating meticulously carved wood bases precisely fitting the lower portion of the stones in the traditional style. Her love of plants also prompted her to support and participate as a member of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Guild.

Edna’s vitality and zest for life was evident throughout her lifetime. She swam three times a week through her late 80s, winning many medals in the Masters Program, even setting a swimming pool lap record at age 65 in a race in Los Angeles. Until last November she also studied and practiced woodcarving. She attended two classes a week at the Wake Adult Education Center, and won many awards from the Wood Carvers Guild.

Edna was an intelligent, self-sufficient, kind-hearted, charitable and gifted artist who was able to live her life doing what she loved. Her perpetually optimistic outlook on life and her tenacious ability to live her dreams were a positive influence on all who came to know her. She is survived by two children, Eva Schaefer, and Marc Hesthal.

A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday March 14, at 1:00. Please call Marc Hesthal of Nautilus Pools at (805) 451-2169 for information and to RSVP.


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