Leatrice (Abramson) Luria, 93, passed away peacefully on June 10, 2021, in Santa Barbara, California, the city in which she made her colorful mark for nearly seven decades.
Lee was born in New Hampshire on April 29, 1928, and grew up mostly in Newton, Massachusetts. When she was 18, she went on a blind date with a man named Eli Luria; within three months, they were married. They would remain by each other’s side for the next 59 years.
The young couple soon moved to Arlington, Virginia, where they welcomed their daughter, Kandy. Four years later, they migrated cross-country to Los Angeles, pursuing Eli’s dream of building houses in Southern California. In 1954, they settled in Santa Barbara, where Lee would spend the rest of her life.
Lee quickly became a pillar of the Santa Barbara community — a generous supporter of local art, music, culture, and education. She was classy and sassy, a natural leader who easily commanded any board room or fundraising event. She was generous with both her time and her money, helping many organizations craft — and then accomplish — their vision. She was focused and driven: a finisher who never let anything stand in her way.
In 1985, and later joined by their daughter Kandy, she and Eli started the Luria Family Foundation as a means of expanding their philanthropy. Lee was an especially devoted patron of the Music Academy of the West, Ensemble Theatre Company, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara City College Foundation and Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.
In addition to her philanthropic work, Lee was a talented glass artist and ceramicist, an adventurous world traveler, an excellent mahjong and bridge player, a lover of cats, gin and tonics with lots of lime and ice, and bright red cars.
Lee will be remembered as magnetic and positive, the kind of person who drew you in and drew you close. She was witty, curious, and sharp as a tack. She was meticulously organized and detail-oriented, often making plans six months in advance — and always reviewing every menu item for the many fabulous events she hosted.
Having celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary at the Santa Barbara Zoo as a black-tie affair, Lee perfectly balanced her West Coast home with her East Coast roots. She was elegant and sophisticated, without ever being pretentious or stuffy (and always impeccably dressed). She was strong and tough, blunt and opinionated, fearless and confident.
Lee was, quite simply, a force: a woman who didn’t suffer fools, who didn’t take “no” for an answer, who marched to the beat of her own drum. By energetically solving every problem that came her way, she forever shaped Santa Barbara’s streets and shores. Let us continue her legacy by striving to make a difference each day. Because, as Lee would say: “What are you waiting for?”
Lee was predeceased by her husband, Eli Luria. She is survived by her daughter, Kandy Budgor, and son-in-law, Aaron Budgor, of Santa Barbara, California; her grandson, Adam Budgor, granddaughter, Mindy Budgor, and granddaughter-in-law, Soraya Scroggins, of New York, New York.