Judy Pearce

Date of Birth

August 5, 1941

Date of Death

September 14, 2020

Judy was born on August 5, 1941. She grew up on her family’s homesite next to the Miramar Hotel which was purchased in 1907 by her great-grandparents. Her fondest memories of growing up in Montecito include taking off in a plane from the lawn of Bonnymeade, and riding her horse from her home to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School. In the early 1950s, Father Cook built a corral so that she and her best friend, Bunny Schmitter (now Smith), could have their horses safely and comfortably waiting for them to get out of school. Judy said that one of the best views in the world was looking between the ears of a horse while riding down a quiet Montecito trail. As teenagers, Judy and Bunny were often riding their horses over the mountains and camping at Pendola and various other locations in the backcountry. They could also be found riding their horses into the ocean for a swim, participating in gymkhana events, and occasionally as riders in ostrich races.

Judy’s first participation in the Old Spanish Days parade was in 1946 at age 5. In her youth she rode her horse down a torch-lit canyon for the Fiesta ceremonies held at the County Bowl. She spent a lifetime sharing the Fiesta experience with family and friends by providing costumes to countless numbers of people each year. For the very fortunate she offered entry with her into the parade where she was always found on horseback in a dress she made herself. She loved confetti and used it to recreate her childhood memories of Leo Carrillo sprinkling confetti from his horse along the parade route.

One cannot envision Judy without seeing a flower in her hair. It began in 1968 when her horse, Jingles, took a bite out of her favorite daisy bush at home. She placed the daisies in the horse’s mane and bridal, and in her own hair. As she rode down East Valley Road she encountered her brother, Owen Guitteau, who commented, “Here comes my sister, the flower child.” She decided he was right and wore a flower every day from that point on.

Judy was a highly respected horsewoman, local historian, and writer. Her writing career began in 1984 with a weekly equestrian column in the Santa Barbara News-Press which continued through 1987. She was a regular contributor to Montecito Magazine, and Montecito Journal. Through her astounding memory of details and dates, and her relationship to so many long-standing families in Montecito and Santa Barbara she was a valued source for many local historians.

Friends were always welcomed into her home, and most became family. While raising her own children she often took on “extra” kids for extended periods of time. She loved to cook and often would go into her garden to gather the ingredients for a given meal. Her homemade bread was legendary. It did not matter if it was a Monday or a holiday, if a person was at her house at dinnertime, they were more than welcome and strongly encouraged to stay. She moved through the world with love, truly supported her loved ones in the choices they made, and embraced diversity. She touched many people with her uniquely bright spirit. As a friend once wrote about her, “She is the last one barefoot and dancing, …forever with a flower in her hair.”

Judy passed away peacefully at home in Carpinteria on September 14, 2020. She had been undergoing treatment for cancer for nearly a year. Her husband, Steve, was holding her hand when she took her last breath.

Judy is survived by her husband Steve Pearce; her children Kathy Gregory, Tom Poulos, Karen Latter, and Sara Killen; her brother Owen Guitteau; and eight grandchildren.

A memorial service is intended for the future. In lieu of flowers, a donation in Judy’s memory may be made to the Carpinteria Valley Historical Museum, 956 Maple Ave., Carpinteria, CA 93013.


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