Dora May Plambeck Korngiebel
May Korngiebel, a vivid, outgoing, astute woman and longtime resident of Santa Barbara, died early in the morning on Oct. 2, 2009. Daughter of Chris and Pearl Plambeck, she was born in Caledonia, Minnesota, May 4, 1914.
May’s family settled in Santa Barbara when she, her sister, Ruth, and brother, Buddy, were very young. She attended local schools, including La Cumbre Junior High and Santa Barbara High School.
May and her future husband, Arthur Korngiebel Jr., met as students at Santa Barbara High, where she was active in the Forestry Club, on the O & G staff and costuming for and acting in theater productions. She graduated in 1930 at the age of 16.
May and Arthur continued their romance after high school, and eloped before he went off to Europe to fight in World War II. After his return, the couple welcomed their son, Arthur Korngiebel III, in 1949.
May and her husband were avid equestrians, and their son could ride before he could walk. They were proud members of the Rainmakers, a hardy and fun-loving group of families that rode and camped in the backcountry together. May continued to ride her horse, Skidoo, until she was nearly 70 years old.
Big Arthur passed away while competing in team penning in the 1964 Fiesta Rodeo. When asked if she would ever consider remarrying, she would respond, “I had the one true love of my life:”
Always interested in politics and world issues, May read voraciously, and never held back her opinions. She chose non-fiction for recreational reading and was fascinated by the history of England as well as British culture and customs.
As Robert Hutchins’ administrative assistant at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions for 12 years, she was afforded the opportunity to be a part of the important work done there.
May was a master storyteller with a wicked sense of humor. With a twinkle in her eye, she would build the tale at her own pace, keeping her listeners dangling until she was ready to deliver the punch line.
Among May’s favorite things were horses, the color cobalt blue, “a little scotch,” quality shoes and handbags, coca-cola, estate sales and See’s candy. She delighted in cooking and baking, tailoring fine clothing, sewing Christmas dresses for her granddaughters and topping off a good meal with a rich, sweet dessert.
May is survived by her son, Arthur Korngiebel III, his wife Carol, granddaughters Alexa Ortega Korngiebel, Torrey Balch Kightlinger, Torrey’s husband Patrick, great grandchildren Avery, Bowen and Brynn, niece Louise Caywood and nephew John Caywood.