Marjorie H. Lilienthal
Marjorie Huguet Lilienthal, wife and mother who settled her family in the Vallée d’Alexandre in 1986, died in mid-December. She was 89 years old.
Marge grew up in Martinez, spending summers on her grandparents’ hop ranch in Ukiah, quiet days that involved family, a few household chores, and games outside. Or hide with a book, dream. These memories, and a sense of enchanted possibilities nurtured by hop-scented afternoons, have always shaped his life decisions.
Marge graduated from Cal in 1954, majoring in history, and earned her teaching degree at Stanford the following year. She lived briefly in Los Angeles and then moved back to San Francisco, sharing a Russian Hill apartment with a variety of sorority roommates, dating Republicans despite her leftist politics because “they were good looking”; tea dance at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, teaching high school English and history in Mill Valley. When her mother died in 1957, Marge saved her money and set off to explore Europe, turning a three-month trip into a year, learning to ski in Austria as a chalet girl and bumping into the alpine slopes in his Volkswagen Beetle, affectionately named Schroder. Not discouraged by mountain goats.
Back in San Francisco, Marge met her husband Phil on a blind date that turned into a Pan Am flight to Hawaii the same night. They bought a house in Atherton for its large leafy trees. In the years that followed, Marge laid the brick walkways of their home herself, made friends who became family, appeared in Sunset Magazine for her garden, and appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle when her dress caught fire on the opening night of the opera. Undeterred by the flames.
When her children moved to college, Marge’s eyes turned to the countryside farther north and she and Phil moved to Healdsburg. They built a house with beds for their grandchildren, a new garden and a new community without ever forgetting the old one. She embraced fly fishing and golf, served on the board of the Healdsburg Hospital, and tutored at Alexander Valley School. In 2010 Phil passed away and in 2019 Marge lost her home to the Kincaid fire. Her response when she found herself homeless at 86: “Honey, I’ve always liked change.” Undeterred by loss.
Marge lived a great and wonderful life. His humor was quick, lively and suitably irreverent. She was an eternal optimist. She read voraciously, ventured fearlessly, and genuinely believed in the healing properties of a vigorous cocktail and good conversation. And if all else failed, there was always tending to her flower pots, gazing at the golden hills she loved.
We miss you, mom.
Marge is survived by her children, John Lilienthal, Maggie MacNab, Kate Lilienthal (Inkster), Victoria Lilienthal (Dreyer); stepchildren Marjorie Ornelas and Judy Leask; brother Maury Huguet and seven grandchildren.
Memorial: Saturday, April 2, 11 a.m.; St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 209 Matheson Street, Healdsburg. Reception at the parish hall to follow. Everyone is welcome.
Published by Press Democrat on January 30, 2022.