Martha Graham McCarter
1924 - 2020
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Martha Graham McCarter
July 26, 1924 - July 27, 2020
Martha Graham McCarter passed away on July 27, one day after her 96th birthday. When people talk about the greatest generation, let's not forget the women! Martha Jane was born in Oakland on June 26, 1924, to Donald Houston Graham and Martha Earl Graham and was a fourth-generation Californian on both sides. She had three older brothers: Donald, Chester, & Guy, and outlived them all.After farming in Marysville, her father became an agricultural advisor for Bank of America during the depression; as a small child Martha often traveled with him to visit family farms. The bank wanted farmers to stay on the land, and she had fond memories of many welcoming farmwives and warm kitchens all over central coastal California. When her brothers went to UC Berkeley, the family moved to Oakland. Martha graduated at fifteen from Piedmont High School, and her parents insisted on another year at Flintridge Sacred Heart before she entered UC Berkeley and joined Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. She went on dates at Fenton's Ice Cream Parlor, which is still there! She met a fellow student, John Otto Matthias Jr., and they married in 1943 and had a son, John III, in 1944. Her husband died following the Battle of the Bulge in France in 1945.Martha was always forward-looking and carried on, raising her son while finishing college and earning money as a model. She was accepted at Boalt Law School but was diverted when she met Robert Sherman McCarter II, who was getting his MBA at Stanford. Martha and Bob married in 1950 and had three children: Tom, Sarah, and Guy, of whom they were lovingly supportive their whole lives. Although Bob's career as a mortgage banker meant they moved often as he was promoted, they finally settled in Hancock Park in Los Angeles in 1963 when he became vice-president of Dwyer-Curlett & Co.Her love of antiques led her to become an apprentice at Beverly Antiques with Grace Elliot and later open Cottage Antiques on Larchmont with her friend Sue Sargent.They also worked the antique show circuit. Martha loved cross-country skiing and tennis, and she and Bob took skiing trips with their Southern Skis group, including a visit to the Matterhorn.Martha was always busy gardening, volunteering for different causes, entertaining, and especially with her children. She was active in the Daughters of the American Revolution, Colonial Dames, Good Samaritan Hospital, and St. James Episcopal Church, and later in retirement, St. Peters Del Mar and St. Andrews in Encinitas.When Bob retired in 1985, they moved to Fairbanks Ranch. They both volunteered their time and traveled. Martha volunteered for the San Dieguito Planning Group as they developed the Coast to Crest Trail, and was instrumental in restoring the San Dieguito Lagoon. She worked with her Colonial Dames chapter to restore Sikes Adobe, a historic ranch house in Escondido and was given a Roll of Honor award for this. Martha loved to garden and formed a garden club at Fairbanks. She also maintained a booth at the local Antiques Warehouse in Solana Beach. Bob and Martha would vacation every year for several months at Bob's family "camp" in Maine near Calais, where Bob had deep roots. While in Maine, Martha would spend time volunteering at St. Anne's Episcopal Church, the St. Croix Historical Society, and the local garden club. They were very social and had many friends there. Bob passed away in 2006 and Martha moved to the La Costa Glen retirement community in 2008. She continued to volunteer and garden until moving to assisted living in 2018. No obituary can capture the bright, vivacious, and optimistic intelligence of our very social Martha. She had a life well-lived, full of family, friends, and activities she loved, best summed up by one of her favorite expressions: "Bueno!"Her son John died in 2001. Martha is survived by Tom, Sarah, and Guy McCarter, five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. Local arrangements are with El Camino Memorial in Encinitas, where comments may be left on Martha's guestbook at services are planned at this time. Donations can be made to your favorite charity in this time of need.

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Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on Aug. 9, 2020.
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Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by El Camino Memorial - Encinitas Encinitas Chapel
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3 entries
August 12, 2020
To Tom, Sarah and Guy ~ What an incredible Mother you had. I had the privilege of being her next door neighbor for 20 years and will never forget her. My favorite memories are the "cocktail hour discussions" with Bob and Martha - anything from politics to pansies. If there was one word to describe your Mother, it would be Unforgettable!
Joleene Cannon
August 10, 2020
Martha was my mother-in-law and I will never forget the warm welcome I received into the McCarter family the first time I visited the camp in Maine. I lost my own mother the year I married into the family and Martha treated me as one of her own children. I am saddened by her passing but have many memories to keep her place in my heart.
Alice McCarter
August 10, 2020
A very sweet and wonderful friend.
Robert S Sommers
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