Maridel Francis Commagère, 95, of Laguna Beach, passed away suddenly of natural causes on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012. Known as “Mamie” to her family, she was a fixture of Laguna Beach for 54 years and could often be seen waving from her beachfront balcony or displaying one of her American flags.
Born on Feb. 24, 1917, in Spokane, Wash., Maridel was the only child of Mary Loraine (Magee) of Daisy, Wash., and Delbert Montanye Francis of Butte, Mont.
In 1930, Maridel moved to Long Beach, where she survived the 1933 earthquake. For several months, she had to attend school in outdoor tents.
Maridel graduated early from Long Beach Polytechnic High School in 1933 at age 16. She graduated in 1935 from Long Beach Junior College. From there she went to UCLA, majored in mathematics and statistics and received her undergraduate degree in psychology in 1938. She played touch football and was president of her sorority Alpha Delta Pi of which she was a lifelong member. She used to walk from her sorority house on Hilgard to class through the woods, which are now parking lots and Hershey Hall.
In 1940, Maridel took a Caribbean cruise aboard the United Fruit Company ship Sixaola. On board, she met the love of her life, Robert Anthony Commagère of New Orleans. Bob was a purser aboard the ship. Two weeks later they married as soon as the ship returned to New Orleans.
Soon after, the couple moved to California, living first in the San Fernando Valley communities of Sherman Oaks and Encino. Bob became the first president of the San Fernando Valley Board of Realtors.
They settled in Laguna in 1958, became avid golfers, and were members of the Indian Wells Country Club. In 1962 they built their beachfront dream home. Maridel and Bob were married for 37 years until Bob passed away in 1978.
In 2002, Maridel’s beach-loving granddaughter, Carla, moved into the bottom floor. With her partner Hans Hagen, Carla soon had two children, who became the light of Maridel’s life, and with Maridel’s son and daughter-in-law often visiting, there were four generations under one roof. Truly unusual for 2012!
Maridel loved doing needlepoint and petit point projects, collecting antiques and decorating her homes. She enjoyed watching UCLA football and basketball, Monday night football, and golf. She loved her dogs and bourbon. She even had her drink the night she passed away. She called everyone “honey,” had a Christmas card list a mile long, and never forgot anybody. She did things her way up until her last day and never complained about anything. At age 70 she became proficient on the computer and enjoyed web surfing, emailing friends, and Facebook even in her 95th year. She was an inspiration to everyone who met her.
Maridel passes on her stubbornness, charm, good looks, and love of 5 p.m. to her only son Robert Francis Commagère and his wife Ramira of Los Angeles; five grandchildren, Kerstin Alice (Commagère) Seufert (Dan) of South Lake Tahoe; Anton Robert Commagère of Redmond, Wash.; Carla María Commagère (Hans Hagen) of Laguna Beach; Juliette Monique Commagère (Joachim Cooder) and Robert Anthony Commagère II of Los Angeles; and two great grandchildren, Hana Commagère Hagen, 7, and Lyric Commagère Hagen, 5, both of Laguna Beach.
A private service was held at Pacific View Memorial Park on Dec. 13.
She passed away in her bed with her wits about her, son and daughter-in-law at her side, the sound of the waves crashing in her ears. We should all be so lucky.