Longtime Laguna Beach resident Barbara Hedden passed away peacefully on Dec. 10 at the age of 92.
Barbara was born on June 16, 1927 in Los Angeles and married aeronautical project engineer Bob Hedden in 1950. They honeymooned in a bungalow on Sleepy Hollow Beach in Laguna. Both avid body surfers, the couple permanently moved here in 1960, where Barbara lived for the rest of her life, nearly 60 years in the same Temple Hills home. When Bob suffered a stroke in 1975, Barbara became his principal caregiver for the next 10 years, until his death in 1985.
During this period, she continued her career with the Laguna Beach Unified School District, which lasted 26 years, starting as an Instructional Aide at Top of the World Elementary School, and later as Personnel Manager for the entire school district. Many former teachers remember Barbara as the first friendly face they encountered when applying for a job, along with her positivity and encouragement. She retired in 1996, but her heart never left the teachers and kids, many of whom would stop her on the street for years to come with an enthusiastic: “Hi, Mrs. Hedden!”
Barbara was a voracious reader who loved to travel with her family. She visited Hawaii several times and was able to see London, Paris, Puerto Rico, Canada, New York, New England and many other iconic locations in her lifetime. She never turned down a getaway, whether it be to a foreign land or a last minute road trip to San Diego or Santa Barbara. An impromptu lunch at the old Jolly Roger, the White House, or the Orange Inn only required a five-minute notice and she was ready to go with a big smile.
Among her other joys were reuniting with her classmates of Excelsior Union High School. Barbara was Class of 1945 and attended their 70th reunion in 2015. She also looked forward to her monthly breakfasts with a close group of retired Top of the World teachers, who called her the “bright light” at their gatherings. She had a very active social life and was a member of the Laguna Beach United Methodist Church for decades. Her other memberships included the Laguna Canyon Foundation, Laguna Beach Historical Society, and the Temple Hills Community Association.
Barbara was very proud of her kids Rob, Andy and Peggy, all of whom grew up in Laguna and attended every school. She lost Andy in 2012, but eventually found her zest for life again with the help of grandsons Ryan, Corey, and Kyle, who also grew up in Laguna, as well as Rob’s wife, Jan, and her mother, Yoko.
Barbara made friends everywhere and will be missed by many people in Laguna and beyond, as will her unforgettable laugh and generosity. A memorial/celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 10 a.m. at the United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley Drive in Laguna Beach.