Ida Bucher

Bucher, Ida May
June 8, 1918 - September 30, 2012
Ida passed away on September 30, 2012, at the age of 94. She was born, Ida May Mahoney, on June 8, 1918, into an Irish Catholic family in Springfield, Mass. She was one of three children. She attended Smith College and after graduation completed her teaching credential at Harvard University School of Education, in 1940. She taught elementary school for several years and then, "because my family was afraid I'd be an old maid", she enrolled in a master's program at Yale University's School of Public Health. She met her future husband of 58 years, Bill Bucher, at a tea dance on the campus of Yale where Bill was in medical school. They were married in 1947. Ida and Bill raised 5 children and lived in 7 different cities before they settled in LA, in 1957. Bill worked as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at USC/Children's Hospital in L.A.; Ida was an active volunteer in the League Of Women Voters, the Democratic Party, and the Smith Club, while raising their children. In 1962 Ida returned to paid work as a substitute teacher in Santa Monica and a Research Associate at the Children's Home Society. In 1963 she became director of the pre-school and Parent Education projects of the Neumeyer Foundation, in Venice, CA, a forerunner to the Johnson Administration's "war on poverty". Shortly thereafter, she became coordinator of Operation Head Start for the West Los Angeles County. In 1967 she was asked to become director of the First Presbyterian Church Nursery School of Santa Monica, a position she held until 1984. Under her direction this became one of the leading pre-schools on the west side. She also taught Child Growth and Development and Parent Education, 3 nights a week, at Santa Monica College. Influenced by her pediatrician husband, she became convinced of the value to the individual child and the other children of "mainstreaming" children with special needs. She was one of the first to do so. With Docia Zavitovsky and Betsy Hiteshew, 2 other Child Development experts, she co-authored several books on child care and collaborated on the instructional TV series, "A Time to Grow". She was also active in public policy as an officer of the California Association for the Education of the Young Child. She helped to found Child Care Information Services of Santa Monica which provided referrals to quality child care and funded tuition subsidies to low-income, working families. Ida spoke to all who would listen about the needs of families and advocated for the under-paid and under-appreciated child care workers who tirelessly, "keep this society running." Ida was uniquely energetic and optimistic. She was a fabulous host and welcomed the young, the old, the celebrated and the disregarded into her home. Always filled with passionate ideas, she was interested in everyone else's opinions and plans. She was a cheerleader for her many friends; everyone loved Ida. We will all miss her terribly. She is preceded in death by her husband Dr. William H. Bucher, her older sister, Ruth Peck of W. Springfield, Mass., and her younger brother Dr. John Mahoney of Milton, Mass. She is survived by five children, Dr. Sharon Bucher Stein, Katina Bucher Norris, William J. Bucher, Patrick Bucher and Melinda Bucher Casey, and five grandchildren, Jessie Norris, Shawn Norris, Alison Casey, Matthew Casey, and Rosie Stein; and one great granddaughter Annabelle Norris.
There will be a Catholic service for Ida Bucher at 10 AM, Saturday, October 20, at the Joseph P. Reardon Funeral Home, 757 E. Main St., Ventura, CA 93001. A second service will be held at 3 PM, Saturday, November 17, 2012, at The Church in Ocean Park, 235 Hill St., Santa Monica, Calif. 90405. In lieu of flowers donations can be sent to The Ocean Park Child/Care Foundation or The Church in Ocean Park, both located at 757 Hill Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405.

Published in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 14, 2012