Margaret Gwendolyn Nadeau
Among other things, Margaret Gwendolyn Nadeau was a renowned plein-air artist in Santa Barbara. (Nadeau family photo)

Margaret Gwendolyn Nadeau, loving and devoted wife to the late Dr. Remi Allen Nadeau and mother to three children, and a renowned plein-air artist in Santa Barbara, passed away on the late afternoon of Sunday, December 8th, 2019. She was 95 years old.

Born in Glendale, California, on August 31, 1924, Margaret G. Smith was the daughter of Lucille Jane and George Robert Smith, who were first-generation Californians who owned and operated a successful real estate and insurance company in Los Angeles. Margaret was the second of four children to Lucille and George, with siblings Richard, Lois and Janice Smith preceding her in death.

After graduating from Santa Monica High School in 1943, Margaret was accepted as an undergraduate student at the University of California of Los Angeles majoring in art.

While earning her degree at UCLA, she and her sorority performed volunteer work entertaining servicemen (some of whom had been seriously wounded in battle) on military leave in Southern California at the homes of Mary Pickford, Jackie Gleason and other Hollywood Stars of the time.

During the same time period, Margaret was one of the few women laboratory assistants helping the war effort by refining crystals to achieve specific radio frequencies. She cleverly discovered a shortcut to this process. Her scientist superiors were so impressed with this achievement and she was subsequently offered a promotion and a full-time position in the lab.

Margaret elected not to pursue this fascinating career in science, but instead to complete her college education. She received her Associates Degree in Applied Arts from UCLA in 1947.

After the allied victory in World War II, Margaret was introduced to a young U.S. Army Air Corps officer — Major Remi Allen Nadeau — who had just completed his military duties in Europe. They began a courtship and married in June 1947 in Santa Monica, California.

During their early years of marriage, while Remi worked as a newspaper editor for a living and pursued his passion as a California historian and author, Margaret gave birth to her first two children, Christine Marie and Barbara Suzanne. A few years later, Margaret gave birth to a son, Remi Robert.

Being a housewife and mother to three children may have been more than a handful, but when her husband, Remi, accepted new positions that required a change of location, Margaret accomplished the moves on her own while still raising a family. Over a span of twenty years, she managed more than a dozen moves all over the country, eventually settling in Santa Barbara, California.

Margaret became so adept at buying and selling homes that she decided to earn her California real estate license in 1976. She then began working at Pitts & Bachmann as a Realtor. Later in life, she actively managed and improved her own rental properties in Ventura and Los Angeles.

Remi and Margaret shared a love for travel and adventure, exploring many fascinating parts of the world over their lifetimes together. Some of their travels took them to places where most Americans seldom dared to venture to at that time.

One journey included a business trip to Moscow in 1973 during the height of the Cold War, where Margaret threw a spectacular corporate party for Collins Radio. In 1974, she and Remi toured Eastern Europe, including East Germany and other Soviet bloc countries. In 1980, they toured the Peoples Republic of China shortly after mainland China opened its doors to western tourists.

After her husband retired from his corporate career in public relations and advertising in 1981, he continued his research and writing as a historian. It was then that Margaret developed and operated a publishing company — Crest Publishers — to print, sell and distribute Remi’s work.

Books that Margaret published include The Water Seekers, The Silver Seekers, The Real Joaquin Murrieta, The City Makers and Ghost Towns and Mining Camps of California as well as Fort Laramie and the Sioux. Moreover, Margaret designed all of the dust jackets and book covers for each of these literary works.

Throughout her lifetime, Margaret also enjoyed an active social life, making many friends through various clubs and associations. Included among these were the Santa Barbara Club, the Little Town Club, the Santa Barbara Historical Society, The Westerners, the Garden Club of Palos Verdes and The Hospitality Information Service, which welcomed the families of foreign diplomats to Washington, D.C.

Although Margaret was busy with many other activities, her true passion was always art. Over her lifetime, she created objects of beauty using various mediums of art, including lost wax jewelry, lost wax bronze sculpture, stone and marble sculpture as well as watercolor.

But in Santa Barbara, she was best known for her multiple award winning work with oil on canvas. Having been a student in many formal classes and learning from artists such as Arturo Tello and Marcia Burtt, Margaret focused the majority of her time and talent creating plein-air oil paintings of Santa Barbara landscapes. She sold most of her painting in galleries in Santa Barbara, including Gallery 113. Many of her works hang in various locations around Santa Barbara today. She was a member of the Santa Barbara Art Association and the Mesa Art Studio, among others.

Of all of her endeavors, probably the most cherished to Margaret was her spiritual connection and pursuit of her personal relationship to God through Jesus Christ. She never ceased to better herself through the teachings of Christ and gently promoting God’s wisdom to others.

Margaret faithfully and actively participated in worship services, charitable activities and gifts though the Church of the Chimes of Sherman Oaks, California; the Neighborhood Church of Palos Verdes, California; the Presbyterian Church of Saratoga, California; and most recently, All Saints By-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Montecito, California.

Without a doubt, Margaret’s greatest gift to her family was her unconditional and unwavering love she gave to her husband, Remi; her children, Christine, Barbara and Bob; her granddaughter Megan Baccei; her great granddaughter, Addie Baccei; as well as her extended family and dear friends.

Her surviving family and friends continue to express their profound love, admiration and fond memories of Margaret. Because of her, the world is a better and more beautiful place.