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Mary Eugenia MacGowan Millar

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Mary Eugenia MacGowan Millar

August 4, 1928 - May 26, 2014

Died peacefully in her sleep after a long illness. She was 85.

She graduated from Napa High School in 1946, and then went to UC Berkeley where she pledged the Kappa Delta sorority, and graduated in 1950.

After a brief marriage, she started at Hastings College of the Law, now UC Hastings. She graduated in 1953, the only woman in her class. In 1954, she was admitted to the Bar and became law clerk to B. Rey Schauer, Associate Justice California Supreme Court. In 1955, she clerked for Fred B. Wood, Associate Justice District Court of Appeal.

In 1956, she opened a private law practice with her second husband, Leslie Gene MacGowan, a law school classmate. They separated in 1966 and divorced in 1969.

In 1970, she married Gordon Scott Millar, an avid outdoorsman, high school teacher, and a friend since Napa High School days.

That same year, she became president of the "Queen's Bench," an organization of Northern California female attorneys. She was also active in the American Bar Association Family Law Section, the Lion's Club, and Soroptomist International, a service organization of women professionals. She was a member of the Forest Hill Garden Club for more than 50 years.

She fought for the rights of "non-traditional" parents: men (fathers were rarely granted custody in the 1970s), grandparents, same-sex couples. She retired from the law in 2000.

In the late 1970s, she founded Sage Canyon Winery in St. Helena. Sage Canyon wines won national and international medals. The winery closed in 1997, after Gordon Millar's death.

She is survived by her daughter, Heather Mary MacGowan Millar, son Hal Millar, a daughter-in-law and son-in-law, two granddaughters and a step-granddaughter.

A prayer service for her will be held on June 13, 2014 at 6 p.m. at the Chapel of Grace in Grace Cathedral, 1100 California Street, San Francisco. A cocktail party in her honor will be held the following day June 14, 2014 at 5 p.m., at 35 Lopez Avenue in San Francisco.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Queen's Bench Bar Association, 816 E. Fourth Avenue San Mateo, CA 94401 (http://www.queensbench.org/), or to California Rottweiler Rescue (http://rottweiler.rescueme.org/California).

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on June 5, 2014
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