Mary Phair
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Phair, Mary Ida
October 23, 1920 - November 9, 2012
Mary Ida Knight Phair was born in Amarillo, Texas, on October 23, 1920. She died from complications of pneumonia on November 9, 2012, at her residence in Regents Point, Irvine, California. Her family was at her bedside. At age seven Mary Ida and her family moved to Southern California. They settled in South Pasadena where she would spend the next 50 years. During that period she would go through the local school system, marry schoolmate Bob Phair in 1941, and help raise Rob and Randy their two sons. Mary Ida decided to continue her higher education. Her first priority was always family, but she somehow managed to graduate from college (UCLA, CSULA) in 1961 and go on to receive her masters degree from USC Library School. One week later she was hired at her alma mater, South Pasadena High School, and was in that position for the next 20 years. She received many awards and accolades. She seemed to be most proud of organizing the Grand Reunion of 75 years of classes in 1982. Approximately 7000 alumni came from all over the world and participated in a parade through downtown. The part she seemed to enjoy most was that nobody thought it could be done. It got done and in grand fashion. When she retired they named the library/media center the Mary Ida Phair Media Center. It remains so today. After retirement, she and Bob moved to Dana Point. She remained active as a docent for the San Juan Capistrano Mission, Dana Point Historical Society and the Ocean Institute. In 2003 she moved to Regents Point in Irvine. Mary Ida was an inspiration. She accomplished many wonderful things. She volunteered to be a girl scout leader, when they couldn't find someone, even though she only had two boys. On a lark she decided to coach the high school girls field hockey team. Her greatest joy was her family, first and foremost. She was a positive and optimistic person. She was generous with her time, her intelligence, and her love. Mary Ida was a born teacher who loved to mentor people: from encouraging her sons every inch of the way; to helping students realize their potential; more recently, to helping employees at Regents Point learn the English language. She was predeceased by her son Randy in 1995 and Bob in 1998. She is survived by her son Rob; daughter-in-law Randa; three grandchildren, Rory, Luke and Eden; Tim (Rory's husband); and four great-grandchildren, Will, Luke, Jack, and Kate.
Private services - Memorial Celebration to be announced. In lieu of flowers, a Library Fund will be established at a later date.

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Published in Los Angeles Times on Nov. 14, 2012.
Memories & Condolences
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21 entries
November 24, 2012
Thank you for your kind and caring friendship.
Grace Alcocer
November 17, 2012
So sad to hear of her passing! One of my best memories of high school was visiting the library and talking to her. Went on to get my MLIS and become a children's librarian. Thanks for all you did for us students.
cathy Gillette
November 17, 2012
Getting to know Mrs. Phair was a bright spot in my high school years. She was always so welcoming and supportive of students. She created in the library a safe space for students and always was interested in us. She made a difference in so many lives. I will always remember her.
Lorraine Gutierrez, SPHS 1972
Lorraine Gutierrez
November 15, 2012
I knew Mary Ida for many many years---I helped get the Alumni Association started working with her and such a jewel to work with---My job was finding people from SPHS and what fun it was---She was a kind and generous person and I will sure miss her---We sent each other Birthday cards and Christmas cards--Great memories--I will miss you greatly and cherish the things you have given me over the many years--Best to her family--Sue Van Houten Blazej
Sue Van Houten Blazej
November 15, 2012
Mrs. Phair always had a smile to share and a shoulder to lean on. I will never forget her words of wisdom that she shared with me my senior year.
Jayne (Lominac) Thompson and class of 81
November 15, 2012
Mary Ida helped me through many challenging times during my time at SPHS. The library was a safe and welcoming place because of her. She even loaned me her car so I could take my first driver's test. She made the world a better place. I will never forget her.
Mark Jacobs (1979)
November 15, 2012
My sincere condolences on the loss of a wonderful woman... I have many happy memories of spending time with Mrs. Phair at the SPHS Library in the 19070's :)
Maureen Feely Weare
November 15, 2012
My Mom's best friend and great friend to the Stowe Family. I remember the books she gave me at Christmas time and the rides in "Black Beauty". I am sad for your loss but happy because I know she, Bob, Randy, and my parents are together once again.
Ron Stowe
November 15, 2012
You were by far my favorite at SPHS. Thanks for all your inspiration which I have passed to my grandchildren for their love of books! Peace be with you.
Evie Pieters Arnold
November 15, 2012
To the Phair family, Mrs. Phair was blessed to live many happy years and will be greatly missed. May the family remember the good times together as you are sustained with comfort and peace from God. Psalms 55:22.
Sandra Smith
November 15, 2012
There are few in one's life that stand out with only the mention of their name. You only needed to hear "Mary Ida" to remember what she has meant to so many who attended SPHS. As both a friend and a colleague, she will always be a part of my South Pasadena roots.
Jim Cherniss
November 15, 2012
Mrs. Phair let me be me while working as a library aide in the late 60's. She was the one that encouraged me to go to college and pursue a dream to become a teacher - which I did! She was such a lively, caring person and teacher. My prayers are with you all for your peace of mind during this time of celebrating Mary's life.
Billie Farley
November 15, 2012
RIP beautiful lady and inspirational teacher. Some of my best memories of high school were working in the library under her remarkable guidance. My heart goes out to her family, I feel truly blessed having known her.
Jennifer (Fink) Wong
November 14, 2012
Thank you for all the encouragement you gave me during High School! Will never forget you! RIP.
Ann Moffet
November 14, 2012
Thank you Mary Ida for making my high school years memorable. I will never forget you. Class of 83.
Ann Rector
November 14, 2012
what a lovely lady, Mary Ida was an inspiration to any of us who cared about South Pasadena.
Karen Durfee Bachand
Karen Bachand
November 14, 2012
R.I.P. Mary Ida. Thanks for the many good memories you & Randy gave me.
November 14, 2012
Mary shared her love for books and reading to all. I found my love for reading through her. What a wonderful person the world has lost.
Patte Nafius
November 14, 2012
When we were growing up, the Stowe and Phair families were really close. My mom and Mary Ida were best friends. And of course, Mary Ida later became librarian at SPHS. What a wonderful outgoing person she was. She now is at peace with her husband Bob, and her son, my friend, Randy. May she rest in peace.
Ken and Barbara Stowe
November 14, 2012
Mrs. Phair was the librian in my high school years in SPHS in the 70's as well as my husband and other family members. I believe that it was her husband that used to draw the SPHS mascot for football and I still have a drawing that was given to me. We both found our way to Orange County. I hope that the family enjoys the many memories that she left over a wonderful life
Deborah Kmet
November 14, 2012
Such sad news for the Phairs and the SPHS Alum Family, but the start of a new chapter of her life - only we won't know what miracles she will have performed until we meet up again. Bless you MIP.
Randy Smith
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