Oretha “Rae” Lambert

Date of Birth

April 18, 1935

Date of Death

January 10, 2023

City of Death

Santa Barbara, California

Our mom, Oretha “Rae” Lambert passed away during the early hours of Tuesday, January 10, 2023, at Serenity House in Santa Barbara, due to complications of a devastating stroke.

Oretha was born on April 18, 1935, in Wayne County, West Virginia to Robert Deward Lambert and Hallie Preece Lambert.  She was a true “coal miner’s daughter”, and the oldest of her four siblings.   She was a devoted big sister and had many friends in the town of Dabney, West Virginia.  She excelled in school and became a secretary at Appalachian Power and Light after her high school graduation.

Oretha’s career aspirations allowed her to move out of her hometown to Dallas, Texas which was a hub for many airline companies.  Oretha was living her dream of becoming a Stewardess for American Airlines.

It was during this time that there was a mix up of the mail in her apartment building.  When she went to straighten out the situation, she met the dashing and engaging guy named George Lambert whose letters and parcels had co-mingled with hers.  Their friendship and love for one another blossomed.

Oretha and George were married on November 8, 1958.  It was George who gave her the nickname of “Rae”.

In the late 1950’s George and Rae moved to Ventura, California for George’s work as a Deputy Sherriff for Ventura County.  In the early 1960’s daughter Laura Lea and son George Lea Jr.  were born.  Rae was a devoted mom and homemaker who enjoyed raising Laura and George Jr. surrounded by the aunts, uncles, cousins, and many friends in Ventura.

In the late 60’s, George and Rae relocated to Los Gatos, California.  Rae got right to work getting to know the new neighbors, finding a bridge group, seeking out the perfect church and keeping her kids happy and busy with many enriching activities.   These friendships ran deep, and she did her best to keep in touch with her “Los Gatos friends” until her passing.

In 2002, George Sr.’s health was fading so the decision was made to move to Santa Barbara where Laura and her family were residing.  By this time, Rae was a grandma to two rambunctious boys, Gabe, and Lucas Grandcolas.  Rae and George Sr. were able to graciously entertain their new set of “Santa Barbara friends” and growing family of nieces, nephews, great nieces, and nephews in their beautiful home.  Many raucous gatherings occurred including the annual white elephant gift exchange.  There are numerous classic stories from those days.

In 2004, George Sr.  passed away, and Rae was on her own.  We did not know it at the time, but this was the first in a series of unexpected losses which were devastating to Rae and her family.  She relied on her strong Christian faith and its many blessings to help her to move forward.  She continued to be involved in her church community at Grace Baptist Church in Goleta where she fearlessly planned and executed numerous activities, including the famous Mother’s Day Tea.

She kept up with her grandsons’ sports, school activities and the graduations with love, spirited exchanges, and cheers, while also providing endless guidance and support to Laura, her husband Ric, and George Jr.

Oretha is survived by her sister Peggy Noakes and brother and sister-in-law Robert and Sharon Lambert of Milton, West Virginia; her daughter and son in law Laura and Ric Grandcolas (Gabe, Lucas); and her son George Lambert Jr. of Santa Barbara; as well as numerous in laws, nieces, and nephews from the Lambert, Noakes, and Wyatt families.

Oretha was predeceased by her brother William Lambert; husband George Lambert Sr.; brother-in-law Leonard Kendall Wyatt; and beloved sister, Phyllis Wyatt, all of whom she is undoubtedly reunited with in heaven.

The Lambert/Grandcolas families would like to extend profound thanks to Rae’s medical teams – past and recent – including Dr. Richard Danson, Dr. Alan Viglione, and the physicians and amazing clinical and therapy services staff at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for keeping Rae’s well-being as their primary objective during the past few years.

A Memorial Service is planned for Saturday, June 3 at 1:30 pm at Grace Gathering.  400 Puente Drive, Santa Barbara; visit www.gracegatheringsb.com

Afternoon tea faire and a smorgasbord of Rae’s favorites will be served.


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