Jean Collins Hayward
Jean Hayward was a fixture in Montecito before Montecito became Montecito.
She and her husband George Collins raised their 4 children and rode Montecito trails on horseback with rider-friends, especially around the Buena Vista Canyon where they lived, which led them to taking a major role in the formation of the Montecito Trails Association, still active today. Hitching posts in front of all their homes, in those days, were common.
The Collins’s developed quite a reputation for creative New Year’s Eve parties, where Jean wrote creative scripts based on famous movies, and the party-goers re-enacted scenes (in costume) of iconic films such as “Around the World in 80 Days”, “Goldfinger” and “Ben Hur”. Of course an “after party” a few months later was as popular as the first gala, where all were invited to view the screening of Jean’s creation.
Jean was an accomplished mime artist, devoting her skills to skits such as “A Christmas Carol” for large local groups and eventually to a significant venue in the prestigious Hollywood Bowl, where she performed a solo performance of the “Carnival of the Animals” complete with exotic costumes she designed, a symphony orchestra, and narration and introduction by Danny Kaye, with whom she shared the stage.
Her day to day passion, though, was life at the Buena Vista house with family and the horses, plus her mule. While husband George was a member of the Rancheros Vistadores and SB Trail Riders, Jean helped create a woman’s version of this, the “Sage Hens”, who, for a decade, did an annual outing with dozens of ladies which included fancier tents, better food, and better behavior.
This progressed into Thanksgiving camping trips with family friends and horses at the Hollister Ranch. Her idea: a formal Thanksgiving with fully set tables under the stars with silver settings, candelabra, table cloths and all the trimmings of a Thanksgiving Feast with horses tied in the background, and moonlight providing the ambience. Unfortunately, as so many of these Jean-directed outings got rained out, this camping group gained the moniker, “The Rainmakers”. This didn’t hold her back, as she then enrolled The Rainmakers in several Fiesta Parades as an equine group announced as “The Rainmakers” on State Street over the PA System for years. Generations of Montecito Riders were part of this procession.
Jean Ellen Eastwood (then) was born in Oxnard, California. Her father, Herbert Hastings Eastwood (1869-1957), was a long time Mayor of Oxnard and was from a pioneer family that moved westward in the late 19th century. (HH Eastwood Park still exists in his honor.) Her mother, Irma Arundell Eastwood (1878-1960) was originally from England, then lived in Greely, CO before moving to Oxnard.
Jean attended Ojai Valley School as a child, when the school was just beginning, and later graduated from UCLA where she met her future husband, George Collins, who was to serve soon thereafter in WWII in the Navy.
George’s early passing in 1967 brought a pause to Jean’s life, but some years later, she married Bill Hayward (a long time Montecito family widower friend), and she was happily with him until his passing in 1995. In 1997, Jean moved to the Casa Dorinda Retirement Community.
Jean gave her final performance of “A Christmas Carol” on Christmas Day, 2006, at Casa Dorinda at age 90.
Jean was predeceased by her two older sisters, Blanche Eastwood Espy, and Alice Eastwood Hollis, as well as by her son, Stephen Collins (1944-2006), who is well remembered for his football greatness at SB High school, with the nickname of ‘Crash Collins’. Jean is survived by her children, Julia Collins, George (Robin) Collins, and Mark Collins, as well as her grandchildren, Valerie Haselton, Daryl Haselton, Heather Collins, Robert Collins, Stephen Collins Jr., and Kyle Collins. Services pending at Santa Barbara Cemetery will be private with the immediate family. For those wishing to make remembrances, please consider Montecito Trails (http://www.montecitotrailsfoundation.info ), “The Westerners” (805.682.1113) or The Santa Barbara Historical Museum (http://www.santabarbaramuseum.com) .