Paula Duncan McDonald

Date of Birth

December 5, 1936

Date of Death

January 31, 2020

City of Death

Montecito, CA

Paula Jane Duncan was born in the tiny town of Wink, Texas. Her parents divorced when she was young and Paula’s childhood consisted of multiple and frequent moves between Texas, Vermont and California. Her fondest childhood memories were of spending hours at a time in the children’s reading room in the Los Angeles Public Library, and of going to movies, both of which she could walk to alone as a six year old from the family’s apartment in downtown Los Angeles. Paula eventually lived with her father in San Diego before moving to Los Angeles to attend college in the late 50s.  She worked to support herself and graduated with honors from Mount St. Mary’s College with a degree in English.

She met Jim McDonald in 1959, and when Jim died in 2017 they had been married for 58 years. They were best friends, companions and confidants. They had three children, Anna, David (deceased) and Catherine. Jim showered Paula with beautiful gifts, and they were known for their flare, generosity and graciousness. They lived in the San Fernando Valley before moving to Casa Dorinda in Montecito in 2012.

Paula had several careers over the years, including homemaker, social worker, teacher, industrial real estate broker, psychologist and author. In the last ten years of life she completed two novels, both of which were set in West Texas and which loosely incorporated aspects of her family’s Texas roots. Paula loved her husband and life partner Jim above all else. Secondary loves included movies, reading, poetry and foot rubs. She was sophisticated and stylish, yet informal, frank and no-nonsense. She was well-known for modifying restaurant menus and clothing garments to suit her style and taste, and disliked things she considered fussy including violin music, frilly bows, hearts and meringue. After a long illness, she died peacefully with close family sitting vigil. Paula is survived by daughters Catherine Brunner and Anna Harbert, son-in-law Eberhard, seven grandchildren and thirteen great grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, Paula requested that donations be made to the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara – “Casa Fund” –

to help support Casa Dorinda employees:  Scholarship Foundation of SB, P.O. Box 3620 SB, CA 93130


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