Dee MacGillivray — “Granny Dee” — passed away peacefully at her home on Thursday, Jan.31, 2013, surrounded by family and loved ones.
She was born in Corona, Calif., on June 17, 1920, and spent her early years in Victorville, Calif.. She moved to Santa Barbara to attend Knapp College of Nursing at Cottage Hospital where she met her future husband, William Donald “Don” MacGillivray (former CA State Assemblyman and mayor of Santa Barbara). After the war, they moved to Santa Barbara, where they built their first home out of railroad ties on the Mesa.
They eventually built their dream home in the hills of Santa Barbara, which survived many fires but unfortunately was destroyed in the 2009 Jesusita Fire. After the fire took away her dream home, her biggest wish was to live out her last few years in a newly built home on the same property in the Foothills, and with the labor and efforts of many, she was able to realize this.
Dee loved contributing her time and energy to many civic and community organizations within Santa Barbara. She was one of the founding members of the SB Chapter of the Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (RFBandD) and was honored for her many years of dedicated service and volunteerism in that organization on the local and national level.
Dee was also co-chairman of the SB Alzheimer’s Reagan Annual Gala, helping to raise thousands of dollars to assist Santa Barbara families dealing with Alzheimer’s. She was also an active member of the local YMCA and participated in their water aerobics program and “Silver Sneakers” up until a few weeks ago.
Dee was also known to the Reagan White House staff as the “Den Mom” of the Western White House, given the responsibility of setting up presidential staff offices in local hotels whenever President Reagan and his staff were visiting in Santa Barbara, and assisting the presidential staff with numerous requests during their entire stay.
With the help of Dee’s husband, Air Force One often returned to Washington, D.C., filled with crates of avocadoes, lemons and strawberries from local farmers. The Reagans’ enjoyed a lengthy friendship with Dee and Don, starting with their first meeting in the 1960s in Sacramento during Governor Reagan’s administration, and enjoyed many visits to D.C. for White House events including a ride on Air Force One returning to Santa Barbara after a presidential event. Dee’s friendship with the Reagan White House staff continued until her passing.
Dee was affectionately known around town as “Granny” or “Great Granny,” and always had time for her many friends. She enjoyed spending time with her family, and never tired of walking the parks and beaches of Santa Barbara, especially Shoreline Park. During his tenure as mayor, Dee’s husband Don was instrumental in preserving the park land now known as Shoreline Park. After Don’s passing, the lookout point (MacGillivray Point) was dedicated and re-named in his honor.
Dee was survived by her brother, Harold (Hal) Dunham; children Sandy McGraw and Jock MacGillivray; grandchildren Tim, Seth, Shannon, Christina, Trisha, Josh and Jeff, and nine great-grandchildren. Although she will be greatly missed by her family and friends, they take comfort in knowing that she is happily with her beloved Don, who she has dearly missed since his passing in 1994.
The MacGillivray family invites close friends to join them for a “Celebration of Life” service on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 2 p.m. at MacGillivray Point, Shoreline Park.
Our gratitude to the Santa Barbara Visiting Nurse and Hospice care, and a special thank you to Angeles, her loving caregiver and friend, who helped us through many years, especially Dee’s last few weeks.
In lieu of flowers, if you would like to honor Dee, you might consider donating to the local YMCA or Santa Barbara Visiting Nurse and Hospice Care.