Passed Away On: 08/12/2018
Our mother, Martha Brinan Schwabacher was born during the Depression on October 16, 1931 in San Francisco, California. She passed on August 12, 2018 in Hollister, California. She was comfortable and was surrounded by all her loved ones as she floated away.
Mom was raised on the Pancho Rico Ranch in San Ardo, California. Her father, Bill was a hard working, Irish dry land farmer and rancher. Her mother, Jean was a grammar school teacher. Mom was the oldest of five girls and one boy. They all worked to help support the operation. She attended Fresno City College and married our father, Jack Schwabacher in 1953. They lived in Madera, ranching and raising Quarter Horses. That union produced three children, Jackson, Susan and Gordon. She lived and worked on the family ranches in California and Wyoming for 30 years. She was noted for her extensive recipe collection and cooking from scratch. Mom enjoyed showing a horse, working cattle, playing bridge, horse racing and flying. She earned a pilot’s license in 1966. In the 1960’s she travelled to Africa and India with her friend Millie Vessels.
In 1983, mom and dad divorced. A few years later, mom reconnected with her high school sweetheart, Stuart Bagby from Paso Robles, California. My grandfather would send mom down to Indian Valley to help Stuart’s family gather cattle off their ranch in the spring. Mom and Stuart were together for nine years, living in Santa Teresa, NM. These were the happiest years of mom’s life. When Stuart passed away, she came back to California. By this time her children had sprouted a crop of their own kids: Will, Sophie, Kate, Daniel and Cora. Mom wanted to be a part of their lives and dove right in. She was an old school grandmother. She would look after them on the weekends, haul them to school, make them clean their rooms and get after them when they were sassy. They called her “Mema”. She loved them and took great pride in their development and achievements.
She was also there for her own children. I will never forget the advice she gave me when my father passed away. She said, “Pour yourself a stiff drink, sit down and do not make any commitments.” Mom was big hearted and generous with people. Many times she would put together a basket of home made food and take it over to a friend. She was a stickler for remembering birthdays, writing thank you notes and she expected her family members to do the same.
To say that mom “stuck to her guns” would be an understatement. Forgiving was not her strong suit, although she had a soft spot for her grandchildren. One did not want to cross her or get on her bad list, you might stay there for a while. We would kid her about keeping our stars low, not high, so they would not have very far to drop if we got sideways with her. She was fiercely loyal; quiet mouthed and kept her own council. She was not afraid to tell you which way the hog ate the cabbage in no uncertain terms. She loved to be with her family and old friends telling stories and laughing.
She remained independent, as she got older. She exercised regularly with her friend Mary Margret and was devoted to her bridge club. She still loved cooking a big meal for all the cowboys and truckers when we would ship the cattle off the ranches in the spring or fall.
Mom wanted to go back to San Ardo to be buried next to her parents and uncle. She instructed her family she wanted a very simple burial. She also requested her family to have a small private gathering for her family and friends later in the fall.
She truly lived “A Life Well Lived ”.
Her surviving sisters are: Edie Capps, Shirley Ethridge and Ruth Anne Morgan. She left behind three children and five grandchildren.
Remembrances in her honor can be sent to the San Benito County Saddle Horse Museum or the Community Foundation for San Benito County.