Natalie Browning Harpham
After 91 years of embracing life and uplifting others, Natalie Browning Harpham passed away on January 6, 2018 at her home in Montecito. Loving mother, doting grandmother, playful great grandmother, caring aunt, trusted friend and dedicated teacher, in all the roles she played during her life Natalie never stopped caring for others and finding beauty in the world around her.
Natalie began her life in Iola, Kansas, May 22, 1926, the daughter of Geraldine Massey and Lloyd Neff Browning. The family moved to Montecito in the 1930s and at an early age Natalie, showed interest in art as a student of Rico LeBrun and Clarence Hinkle. She attended the Howard School for Girls and Marymount. While a student at Scripps College, she came under the tutelage of Millard Sheets and Henry Lee McFee, both prominent California artists. She was an accomplished landscape painter and photographer and enjoyed sharing her artistic passion with others. Her passion for art ran so deep that Natalie traversed the globe, visiting scores of countries and cultures, to capture her memories on canvas and film.
As Director of the Art Department at Laguna Blanca School, Natalie arranged for student trips to Los Angeles museums and founded a series of gallery exhibitions including the work of Grandma Moses and for several years showed her art at the Gallery DeSilva in Montecito along with other local prominent artists. Her love for art did not stop there as her teaching continued for many years with the children’s program through The Santa Barbara Museum Of Art at the McMormick House. Over the years, a number of her former students have gathered with Natalie for tea and robust conversations. She was a member of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Junior League, The Little Town Club, Birnam Wood Golf Club and The Yacht Club.
Natalie is survived by her beloved husband of 31 years, Richard, and her sister, Nanci Robertson, her two sons, Timothy M. McMahon and Thor K. Hansen (Jennifer), her grandchildren, Kimberly McMahon Payne, Natalie McMahon, Ryan McMahon, Tyra Hansen, Alexandra Hansen and Kendyl Hansen and her great grandchildren, Jameson Payne, Harley Payne, Charlotte McMahon and Matteo Hugueny-Clark. It would be remiss to not mention Natalie’s lifelong love of animals and her beloved pup Sasha who brought her so much joy and happiness during her last years.
Her family wanted to acknowledge and thank Natalie’s fabulous caregivers that took such great care of her in her last few years: Carrie Aquilar, Maria Carmen Tovar, Concha Hernandez, Rita Mills and Jeanette Georgopoulos. We also wanted to acknowledge Dr. Jeffrey Kupperman for the loving care she was provided in the last years of her life. Her sense of fun, zest for life and trust in her faith, survived to the very end. She will be missed…
A memorial will be at El Montecito Church on February 15, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. followed by a Celebration of her life.
In lieu of sending flowers, Natalie would have loved donations sent to The Santa Barbara Museum of Art educational program for youth.