Lucille (Lu) Warner Tico was the best kind of legend. Singular yet interconnected, gentle yet strong; giving, wise, utterly irreplaceable. Born into a set of premature twins at Cottage Hospital on July 10, 1932, Lu and Carolyn Warner’s journey began with a jolt: their mother, Virginia Warner, passed away in childbirth. In a tradition of resilience and benevolence that would go on to emerge through Lu’s own life, Helen “Lollie” Warner–Virginia’s teenage sister–adopted the twins with their older sister, Celia, who was not yet two years old. She raised all three girls with the help of their maternal grandmother, Nelle Warner, thus beginning a legacy of strong women who used the challenges of life to connect more deeply, to empathize, and to lean in.
Lu was raised on Acme Poultry farm on Modoc road, in what was then rural Santa Barbara, spending summers at Ojala springs. She attended Goleta Union, Hope School, La Cumbre Junior High and then Santa Barbara High School, where she acted as class secretary, and also met Bob Tico—descendent of Fernando Tico, a Catalonian cattle rancher who received the original land grant to the territory now known as Ojai—and promptly began passing notes about him with her best friend, Sally. She and Bob became a couple. When they briefly broke up, Lu burned her diaries in a fit of teenage passion, and rekindled her passion for jitterbug dancing. When they reunited, Bob was too proud to go dancing; but regardless, there was no keeping them apart, and they eloped to the Little Chapel Around the Corner in Las Vegas, NV on April 16, 1951. The closest thing to a photo is a paper calendar with the date circled around it, marking the spot in time. A family began here.
Not long after their wedding, Lu and Bob relocated to Anchorage, Alaska, where he was stationed at Fort Richardson during the Korean War. It was cold, and probably isolating—but Lu always described it as a great adventure, as the most “exotic” place she’d been. They conceived their first child, a boy named Randall (Randy), and were given leave to return to California; Lu delivered in the same hospital where she was born, where her grandchildren and great-grandchildren would eventually be born as well. Before they left Alaska, Lu remembers sitting on long bus rides to get to the army doctor—bouncing over the bumpy roads, pregnant and without a seatbelt. When they did fly home, she rode in the back of a cargo plane.
Lu’s motherhood journey began as many did at that time: full of wholesomeness, and another child less than two years later. When their daughter Terri came into the world, she and Randy explored the same neighborhoods their parents had roamed, and the Ticos built their family home on Eucalyptus Avenue, where they also raised their third child, Richard (Rick). Lu lived there—with her twin sister Carolyn next door for many decades—every day of her life. It was a home filled with love; the sound of the screen door slamming, piano music wafting, the smell of chocolate-chip cookies or a fresh Cachuma Lake fish fry, and multigenerational laughter. The spare bedroom provided respite for countless family members, as well as many musicians over the years—introduced to the family through Randy, a Santa Barbara musician—who needed a soft place to fall. Lu’s home provided more than just a bed, or a warm meal; it was her attitude, and her unflinching commitment to seeing the best in everyone, that made her a safe person. Lu’s choice to connect foremost with someone’s humanity, to see people as works-in-progress, always worthy of patience and a kind gesture, gave us space to be ourselves. There’s no telling how far that ripples out. There are no limits to that kind of love.
Lu’s bountiful generosity did not stop with her family or friends, and over the years, she found ways to give back to the community through her gifts. While she did enter the work force, Lu’s true passion was crocheting. As a dynamic duo with Carolyn, who taught knitting, Lu’s mastery of her craft extended far beyond Christmas gifts; in addition to countless scarves, blankets, and even a blue-ribbon winning doll bed, Lu crocheted more than 200 infant caps for the neonatal unit at Cottage Hospital. She kept a photograph of each one, laminating them into a binder, flipping through it and wondering how the families were doing—all strangers, but each holding children in the same building where she and her sister were nursed to health. Like the babies, each hat was unique. Leave it to a twin to understand the importance of feeling individual.
Throughout her long and healthy life, Lu never missed an opportunity to make a card for someone’s birthday (complete with a specific theme), to record your favorite TV show, or pick up and/or drop off a kid. We used to call her car trips “Grandma’s wild rides,” because she’d do whatever it took to get us there on time, right down to calling out green things at every red light. When leaving her house, one was almost always covered in glitter. She was patient. She was incredibly creative. And in the final years of her life, she began to process larger relationship dynamics—investigating her own patterns, reflecting on difficult decisions—almost as a way of cleaning house, of paving the way for the next journey, and proving that curiosity never gets old.
Lu was part of a generation that, among many other things, knew the value of hard work, and prioritized tradition. She loved Santa Barbara, and spent her entire life deepening roots here, making it better in the quietest—yet impactful—ways. As her generation continues to fade, they will remain in our memories; in the unparalleled quality of a big band record, or in the choice to slow down and appreciate what it truly means to have a life well-lived. Lucille Tico never figured out how to use a cell phone, but she figured out how to be at peace in this life. It wasn’t flashy. It wasn’t fancy. But it was contagious, and it is not forgotten.
Lu passed gently in her home on August 14, 2022, surrounded by family. She is survived by her children, Randy, Terri (Mike) and Rick (Jacqueline); grandchildren Diegas (Jessica), Gamaiel (Rebecca), Jenna (Nicholas), Elena, and Julian; and great-grandchildren Isei, Evia, Milena, Ayin, and Felix. In addition to family, VNA Home Care, Dr. Gloria Hadsall at Sansum Clinic, and “Team Lulu”—Lana, Margie, Linda, Jeff, Fran, Carla, and Shawn—all cared for Lu. A service will be held at Unity of Santa Barbara (227 E. Arrellaga St.) on November 13, 2022 at 1:00 p.m.