Marian Elisabeth Nickel Hartfeld

Date of Birth

July 17, 1926

Date of Death

January 4, 2015

On January 4, 2015, Marian “Nicki” Hartfeld passed away peacefully at her home in Santa Barbara. She was 88 years old. Marian was a much-beloved and devoted wife, mother, grandmother, sister, teacher, and friend.

The middle child of Albert H Nickel and Wilda Louise Stuntz Nickel, she was born July 17, 1926 in Brawley, California. Marian grew up in the Imperial Valley where her father Albert worked in the agricultural seed business. On the side of his car it read, “Cuff-Archias Seed Company – The Largest in the World.” Then in small print underneath it read, “Below Sea Level.” She delighted in riding along with him to the fields in tomato season (with a salt shaker) and in cantaloupe season (with a spoon). The family members were active in the First Methodist Church.

Marian made her initial move to Santa Barbara in 1944. Throughout the next 70 years she would return time and time again to her beloved Santa Barbara. She attended the Santa Barbara College of the University of California (predecessor to UCSB) on the Riviera where she took great joy with her sorority sisters of Chi Delta Chi (now Delta Gamma) and was given the nickname “Nicki”, short for Nickel. Here she discovered the works of Edna St. Vincent Millay and formed a lifelong passion for books and the written word.

While at college, Nicki met and then married her now former husband Edward Alton Hartfeld on December 21, 1946 in Santa Barbara. They had three sons, Gaylord, Howard and Miles. Howard was developmentally disabled and she devoted her life to his care, tirelessly advocating for him for over 60 years until his passing.

Initially in the San Francisco Bay Area, the family moved back to Santa Barbara and on to Los Angeles and then Berkeley Heights, NJ where she worked at the elementary school to be close to Howard. Marian achieved her BA in Liberal Arts elementary education and school librarianship from Kean College of NJ (now Kean University) and taught elementary school in New Jersey.

Marian returned to California with Edward and Howard settling in La Cañada. During this time, she went back to school and achieved her MA in Educational Media from California State University, Los Angeles. She applied this knowledge to her profession as the South Pasadena Unified School District assistant librarian.

Upon retirement, Nicki returned to Santa Barbara once again. Years later, on May 11, 1994, she married a boyfriend from her Santa Barbara College days, William “Bill” Francis Lennon. They moved to Novato, CA in Marin County to be closer to Bill’s sons Matt and Michael and their families.

After Bill’s passing in 2012, Nicki returned to Santa Barbara for the last time where she resided at Villa Santa Barbara and subsequently Casa San Miguel where the loving staff treated her as a member of their family.

In her lifetime she travelled to Tibet, Thailand, Nepal, Burma, Europe, as well as cruises through Alaska’s Inside Passage and the Panama Canal to the Caribbean.
Books were a major part of Marian’s life whether teaching or helping children in the library or reading for pleasure. Ever the librarian, family members could look forward to the periodic appearance in the mail of a brown manila envelope filled with clipped newspaper and magazine articles that she was certain were of interest to the recipient. Her passion was reading and reciting poetry. Even into her 80’s, you could open Edna St. Vincent Millay’s Collected Poems to a random selection, start reading it to her and she would recite the finish from memory.

Marian was a loyal friend to many and will be remembered for her kindness, generosity, and support for the underdog. She focused on the positives in the world and its people. She kept lists by her bed of all the things she was grateful for… large and small. She was a devoted and caring soul.

Marian is predeceased by her sons Gaylord and Howard, husband Bill Lennon and sister Emalyn Malan.

Marian will survive in the hearts of all of her family and friends. She is loved and missed by brother George Herman Nickel of Evergreen, CO, son Miles Albert Hartfeld of Santa Barbara, finally daughter Nancy Elizabeth Tiemann Hartfeld of Santa Barbara, and much beloved grandchildren Skylar Elisabeth Hartfeld Greene of Santa Barbara and Spencer Ogden Hartfeld of Manchester, NH.

A Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 pm Saturday February 7 at the First United Methodist Church at 305 E. Anapamu Street (at Garden St), Santa Barbara. Online condolences may be offered at

The family gives special thanks to Katerina Zamyatina, Jula Vagela and the staff of Casa San Miguel for your compassion and care during Nicki’s final year. Thank you to Doctors Assisting Seniors at Home (DASH) physician Dr. Nancy Rikalo, Dr. Jeoffrey Benson, Pastor Alan Strout and Eric & Jeff Boehm who captured many of her wonderful memories before they faded.
Tax deductible donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization at:
Alzheimer’s Association
1528 Chapala Street, #204
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
Or call them at (805)892-4259
“I do believe the most of me
Floats under water; and men see
Above the wave a jagged small
Mountain of ice, and that is all.
Only the depths of other peaks
May know my substance when it speaks,
And steadfast through the grinding jam
Remain aware of what I am.
Myself, I think, shall never know
How far beneath the wave I go.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Journal,” in Collected Poems
(New York: Harper and Row, 1956), p. 513.
Arrangements entrusted to McDermott-Crockett Mortuary


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