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Posted on November 29, 2015 | 2:09 p.m.

Albert ‘Aggie’ Margolis of Santa Ynez, 1919-2015

Source: Margolis Family

Beloved by his family, friends and community, Aggie Margolis was a longtime civic leader and volunteer in the Santa Ynez Valley, active with the Vikings of Solvang, the Santa Ynez Valley Airport Authority and the local Jewish community. (Margolis family photo)
Beloved by his family, friends and community, Aggie Margolis was a longtime civic leader and volunteer in the Santa Ynez Valley, active with the Vikings of Solvang, the Santa Ynez Valley Airport Authority and the local Jewish community. (Margolis family photo)

On November 27, 2015, Albert “Aggie” Margolis passed away at home, surrounded by love: Vera, his wife of 68 years, his son, Ron Margolis, and daughter, Susie Pierson.

Aggie was born to Jennie and Joseph Margolis on January 30, 1919, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He lived at home for the first seven years of his life then with relatives and. when his mother became ill, lived in the Jewish Gusky Home, a famous orphanage.

After high school, Aggie entered the Civilian Conservation Corps. After two years, he joined the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Mead, Maryland, for basic training, then was sent to Watsonville, California, and later Fort Bragg, California.

Preparing to go overseas, during exercises of the 794 Field Artillery, Aggie was injured setting the sight on the 155 Howitzer. His eardrums were ruptured and his back injured. After hospitalization, he was given an honorable discharge.

Since the war was still ongoing, he wanted to help and got a job at the U.S. Naval Shipyard at San Pedro, California, where he became a sailmaker.

Through mutual friends he met Vera Joy Friedman in 1942. Their friendship blossomed into love later when they started dating in 1945. On May 4, 1947, they married.

By then, Aggie had mastered the luggage-making trade and realized that he wanted other skills. He went to night school to learn basic electronics and was hired as an electronic technician at Rocketdyne in the Santa Susanna Mountains of Los Angeles County. He later continued to further his electronics education at Pierce College in Woodland Hills while working a part-time second job as a TV repairman. He and Vera bought a G.I. home in Reseda and lived there for five years with their two children.

When Aggie heard of an opportunity to work for Lockheed Missiles & Space Company at Vandenberg Air Force Base, he jumped at the chance, and was hired as an electronic technician. Within a short time he became a leadman while also continuing with more schooling.

He opened a small TV repair shop in Solvang, bought a half-acre of land in Santa Ynez and built a home. Aggie worked in the repair shop in his spare time while advancing his career at Lockheed. Because of his work at Lockheed, he eventually sold his shop, but still did TV repair part time out of his home.

At Lockheed he held a variety of positions, including management positions in security and in internal auditing. In the latter position, he discovered the need for more training and became the first training coordinator at Vandenberg’s Lockheed Missiles & Space Co.  From scratch he developed the training program at Lockheed, including finding a location, teachers and equipment. He also convinced Lockheed to include the Air Force in its training programs, which had never happened before.

Aggie also introduced and published the company newsletter for the Lockheed Management Association. He retired in 1991 and immediately formed the first Lockheed Retirement Organization at VAFB, serving as the first president and then a longtime board member.

After retirement, Aggie served on the Santa Barbara County Grand Jury for one year. In 1993, he became one of the founders of the newly formed Santa Ynez Valley Airport Authority Board of Directors and continued on the board as secretary until his illness forced him to retire one year ago.

One of his closest friends, Bent Olsen, recruited him to the Vikings of Solvang in 1996. He became deeply committed to the Vikings and their charitable work, staying on as a Goldcupper up until his passing. The Vikings and their camaraderie and their willingness to help those in need were very important to him.

Since its inception many years back, Aggie was a longtime and active board member and ambassador of the Santa Ynez Valley Jewish Community. They honored Aggie’s 90th birthday by planting a tree in his honor at the Santa Ynez Valley Botanic Garden.

Aggie was beloved by his family, friends and community. He was often asked by young and old to show off his dancing ability, which he would joyfully perform, even into his 90s. One his most favorite movies was West Side Story. It was difficult for him to keep his feet still when there was good music playing.

He was an open-hearted and kind man whose twinkle and charm will be remembered by everyone who knew him. Being from Pittsburgh, while he had adopted the Los Angeles Dodgers and Lakers, he was an avid Steelers fan and still loved his Pittsburgh Pirates.

In a 1999 interview, Aggie wrote that his youthful dream was “to grow up and have a good education, find a lovely wife with whom I could have children and make sure the children had a much better life than I. All of my dreams have come true.”

He is survived by his wife, Vera; children Ron Margolis and Susie Margolis Pierson; five grandchildren: Daniel (Nikki) Margolis, Aliza Margolis, Simon Margolis, Jennie Pierson and Zachary Pierson; and several nieces and nephews.

A memorial for Aggie will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at St. Mark’s in-the-Valley Episcopal Church, 2901 Nojoqui Ave. in Los Olivos.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Viking Charities and/or Central Coast Hospice:

Viking Charities Inc.
Vikings of Solvang
P.O. Box 293
Solvang 93464

Central Coast Hospice
252 Granada Drive
San Luis Obispo 93401


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