Anita Rodriguez Sargent
Our mom, Anita Rodriguez Sargent, is now at peace. No more pain, no more uncooperative body—her struggle with Alzheimer’s and its related indignities is over. Her hair was silky white and her skin remarkably smooth for her age. She left this world on Tuesday, March 13 to meet up with her parents and Spanish ancestors. Mom was 85.
In her early life she enjoyed their summer cottage at the Spanish Camp on Staten Island, New York (and known to hold fundraisers in support of the anti-Facists during the Spanish Civil War). She attended schools in Somerville, New Jersey. After graduating from high school she boarded a transatlantic ship to Spain to study at the University of Madrid during an era when it was unusual for an 18-year old to travel abroad on her own. Mom then worked at the US Embassy in Santiago Chile and traveled throughout South America. She mentioned playing a role in intelligence gathering often by socializing with powerful men and learning their secrets though she was mum on the details. Upon her return she worked for the Latin American Institute in New York City recruiting young scholars at universities throughout New England.
Anita met Ray as they both commuted into New York City for work. They married on June 20, 1960 at the United States Military Academy at West Point in New York. After the small service, they hopped in their Chevy Bel-Air and drove to San Francisco. A large and scary earthquake encouraged them to leave their high-rise apartment and move south to Santa Barbara where they bought Magnolia Clothes Care Center. It was far from mom’s ideal vocation but she and dad were successful with it for the nearly 40 years.
Mom’s parents, Francisco Rodriguez (Cullar Baza, Granada) and Ramona Dulcenombre Delgado (Minas del Rio Tinto, Huelva), were among the founding members of Las Hijas de España, a social club in Santa Barbara that celebrated Spanish culture and cuisine.
Anita was married to Ray for nearly 58 years. They had a deep connection that was not complicated by public displays of affection. They were content in their marriage, and it endured through hard times and joyful ones. One of our happiest memories was a 2005 trip to Spain to visit her Spanish family for the last time, and to Italy, including a pilgrimage to Padua to visit the relics of St. Anthony, to whom she had developed a devotion.
Anita had three daughters and three sons-in-law who she loved unconditionally and whose affection we all reciprocated (Suzanne and John Kafel of Bastrop, TX, Sally and Rich Kehl of Tulsa, OK, and Maryann Sargent and Steve Solnit of Berkeley, CA). She adored her grandchildren (Adam and Trevor Kehl of Tulsa OK, Briana Kehl, Boston MA and Isaac and Martin Solnit of Berkeley, CA).
Dad is 91 and still with us. He maintains his repertoire of jokes and one-liners.
A viewing will be at Welch-Ryce-Haider Funeral Chapel (15 East Sola Street, Santa Barbara) from 9-11 am on Saturday March 17th. Immediately following there will be a gravesite service at Calvary Cemetery 199 North Hope Avenue, Santa Barbara.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Alpha Resource Center of Santa Barbara, Assisted Hospice Care of Santa Barbara, or the Alzheimer’s Association California Central Chapter.