Constance Motander Died on Mother’s Day

Constance Motander. - Courtesy photo / Susan Motander
Constance Motander. – Courtesy photo / Susan Motander

By Susan Motander

Connie (not that I ever called her that, to me she was Mother) was born August 28, 1926 in Arlington, Massachusetts (now a part of Boston). Her parents, Marion (always known as Naya) Whall and Teodoro Eduardo Hartung had married when he, as a young Argentine Naval Officer, had been studying at MIT while his ship was in dry dock in Boston. The couple divorce in 1928 with Naya and young Connie remaining in the U.S.

Naya and young Dochia (as she was known then in honor of her father, Teodoro) moved in with Naya’s mother, and with time both of Naya’s divorced sisters and their children. The three young women worked as beauticians ultimately moving to San Francisco, leaving their children in New York with their mother. With time they were able to send for the children and mother. In 1937, Gibby, as my Great Grandmother was known (short for Grace Belle), brought all five children across country by train. My mother remembered the way Gibby kept control of four little boys and my mother, all under 15, was a marathon game of Monopoly.

Naya remarried and moved to Monrovia with the outbreak of WWII when her husband, my Grandpa, Herbert Herzenberg was assigned to “Camp Santa Anita.” Mother remained in San Francisco to finish high School at George Washington H.S. and then went on to the University of California at Berkeley. She majored first in Spanish to be able to better communicate with her father and then switched to Business Administration for practical reasons. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in her Junior year at Cal, an unusual accomplishment even then. She graduated in 1948 and began to work as an accountant.

After my father, Donald Motander, returned from a brief hiatus from Cal known as the Second World War, he and mother began dating. After his own graduation in 1950, they were married on October 21 of that year when Papa was recalled to active duty for the Korean conflict. The newlyweds were assigned to the Presidio of San Francisco. It was there that my sister, Elizabeth was born. A few days after she was born, Papa’s term of enlistment ended and he, mother, and Elizabeth moved to Monrovia where they lived for the rest of their respective lives.

As a typical housewife of the fifties, Mother did not work outside the home. But as a bright active woman, motherhood was not quite enough and she started a long career of volunteer work. She collected for March of Dimes, Community Chest, and every worthwhile charity. A few years after moving to Monrovia, I was born and Mother and Papa bought the house Mother lived in for more than sixty years.

When my sister and I started school, our parents were very active in the PTA, both receiving Honorary Life Membership Awards from the Monroe School PTA and Continuing Service Awards from the Monrovia High School PTA.

She also began to teach Sunday School at Monrovia First Presbyterian Church. She limited this work to leading the Kindergarten class as she said her level of theology ended with “God is good and the Policeman is your friend.” She did this for more than 20 years, part of which time my father also drove the church van picking up those who could not drive. In the 1960s Mother returned to the paid work force on a limited basis at first. She began as an aid at Monroe School and then moved to Monrovia High School, first to help with the re-accreditation presentation in 1970, ultimately becoming the accountant for the school and the student associations.

My father retired first, and several years later Mother retired.  Unfortunately, before they had a chance to begin traveling together Papa died and Mother continued with her volunteer work and club activities.

She was a member of the Monrovia Garden Club serving as its President for one term and for several years as its Treasurer. She also worked to organize their plant sales for several years. In addition, she volunteered at least one day a week at the Monrovia Historical Museum.

Ultimately she also began to volunteer at least one day a week at Rainbow’s End, the thrift store that supported Foothill Unity Center. Her volunteerism there led to her receiving a Gold Plate Award from the Center. Even after Rainbow’s End closed she continued her volunteer work for the Center. It was an important part of her life.

But this biographical data does not present the full picture of my mother. She was a kind, witty, and thought-full person. Mother gave of herself. She gave birth to only two daughters, but she had room for several others in her life. She used to joke that she also had four sons…they just wandered in.

As my sister reminded me that our mother loved to get down on the floor and play with her grandchildren. Since my children were already grown by the time they came into my life, I was able to see her react the same way with her great grandchildren.

She also had a dry wit and a sometimes ribald sense of humor, but my sister maintains only I brought out that side of her; the ribald, not the wit. She could see the humor in most situations and she always maintained her composure.

Both her parents and her step-father predeceased her as did my father, and Selwyn Eiber, one of those “extra” sons. She is survived by both her daughters and their husbands, Elizabeth and Scott Jones of San Diego and Susan Motander and her husband, Judge Bruce Marrs of Monrovia.

The remaining extra sons include Wes Ferris of Monrovia, Randy Dalrymple and his wife Elaine of Pete’s Beach, Florida, and Edmund Ting who was my father’s protégé in the Sheriff’s Crime Lab.

Her grandchildren include Elizabeth and Scott’s sons Justin Jones and Shawn Goodman and his wife Sarah. Their child is Mother’s youngest great grandson, James Robinson Goodman.

Susan and Bruce’s children include Edie, Randy and Iain Marrs along with Iain’s wife Nicole Hernandez-Marrs, and their extra children, Susan Weil and Randy Miranda along with his wife Lisa.  Their grandchildren (and thusly Mother’s numerous great-grandchildren) include Powell Ryan Cameron, Randy’s daughters: Camille, Audrey and Hazel; and Iain and Nicole’s children, Violet and Ryan.  The final member of the great grandchildren list is Patrick Miranda.

She also had a dry wit and a sometimes ribald sense of humor, but my sister maintains only I brought out that side of her: the ribald, not the wit. She could see the humor in most situations and she always maintained her composure.

Services will be held at Douglas and Zook, 600 E. Foothill Blvd., Monrovia on Friday May 25th, at 3:00 p.m.


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