Agnes Lee Garner
Guided by her modest roots and Southern upbringing, Agnes always had food to offer guests, a welcome smile and a story to share. Even into her final years, she would ask anyone who visited, “Have you eaten?” Home and family were everything to Agnes, and her loved ones felt her care and generosity.
Born on August 27, 1930 in De Queen, Arkansas, Agnes grew up in rural New Hope, Arkansas, where her dad gave away food and goods from his store to help neighbors during the Great Depression. In remembering these lean years, Agnes spoke fondly of getting an orange or kid-size broom for Christmas. She “laughed and laughed” upon receiving these simple delights as a child.
After graduating from high school, Agnes moved to Oregon, where she lived with her sister Irene and worked her first job in a credit bureau. There in Roseburg, Oregon, she met Bob Garner, whom she married on August 11, 1951 after a six-month, long-distance courtship. Bob loved her dearly for the rest of his life, and Agnes returned that devotion.
Agnes and Bob started their family in Oregon, welcoming their two oldest boys in Roseburg then moving to Klamath Falls, where she worked to help Bob through Oregon Institute of Technology. In 1959 they moved to Santa Barbara, California, and bought their first home in the then outskirts of Goleta, California, where they eventually had a third son and Agnes’ Southern hospitality continued to shine for many decades to come.
Agnes poured her heart and soul into raising their boys, surrounded herself with many best friends and maintained the books for Bob’s successful land-surveying business. She stayed fit with bowling, tennis and aqua aerobics, and she and her friends gave volleyball a try—likely laughing more than playing on the community courts. Friends regularly came by the house for card games, barbecue, potluck meals and many laughs. And after the boys left home, she volunteered at the Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital gift shop.
Her family expanded further in the 1990s, and Agnes treasured the years she spent doting on her grandkids. She spent hours hugging them, sneaking them treats, and taking them on fun adventures to Goleta Beach or the neighborhood hills where they would use cardboard to sled on pine needles.
Agnes departed this life on September 9, 2022. She is preceded in death by her husband of nearly 70 years, Robert Garner; parents Edward and Edith Smith; sisters Irene White and Pauline Everett; and brother Warren Smith. She is survived by sons Scott, Brad (Chris) and Tim (Karen) as well as her grandchildren Nick and Kelsey.