Mary Ostrander, Early Archivist
Mary Elizabeth Ostrander was born on September 14, 1914 in San Francisco, California. Her father was a lawyer, and her mother was an Irish School Teacher! Mary’s father left his law practice in San Francisco to become a farmer on his family’s homesteaded property in Dixon, California.
Mary was raised in Dixon and attended their schools, and was involved in the Methodist Church, as well as helping on their farm. She graduated from San Francisco State College in 1936, and became a teacher for the deaf, after a one year’s training in Berkley!
She worked at the Washington State School for the deaf in Vancouver from 1937-1939.
She married Donald H. Ostrander, who became a chaplain in the Navy. She then moved to Los Angeles, CA and taught at Mary E. Bennet School for the Deaf! When the war ended Don became a chaplain for the University of Southern California and LA City College, working with returning vets. Mary and Don had many activities for the vets, their spouses, and families.
Donald was pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church from 1951-1967.
During that time Mary raised their four children. She also volunteered to tutor several deaf students in speech and language. Some of the parents have continued to keep in touch with Mary.
Mary and Don moved back to the Bay Area in 1967 and Don became the minister at Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church.
Mary has delivered Meals on Wheels for 40 years and is still going strong. She also became involved with the Moraga Historical Society about seventeen years ago and volunteered at the Moraga Library. Furthermore, she tutored disadvantaged children once a week through World Impact in West Oakland, was a mother’s aide in Moraga Schools and was very active in MVPC.
Mary “O” met Elsie Mastick in the late 1960’s. Mary’s husband Rev. Don Ostrander was transferred from Los Angeles to Moraga to be the second pastor of the Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church. This was a special day and the beginning of a wonderful friendship between the Masticks, who were charter members of MVPC, and the Ostranders.
At the time, Elsie was working for the Moraga School District and was working at the Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School library. The school opened in the fall of 1967 and had the first graduating class in June 1968. Bruce Mastick, Elsie’s youngest son, was in that class. Mary’s youngest son, Chris, was at JMIS for 6th, 7th and 8th grade. There Elsie had the chance to get to know Chris very well. Later she met Mary’s other children: Susan, Jan and Bill and their families.
Moraga was a growing community and needed volunteers to fill many slots. Mary soon found out that Elsie needed volunteers at the library were Chris was a student. What a perfect place for her to volunteer! At about the same time, the Moraga Historical Society, under the direction of Brother Dennis Goodman and Maggie Skinner, needed help at St. Mary’s College and Mary found another job! As the wife of a pastor of a new church, Mary soon had many duties at MVPC and its Outreach program. However, she continued volunteering at JMIS until Chris graduated.
Elsie’s 92 year old father lived with the Masticks on Schofield Drive at this time and Elsie decided to invite Mary to meet him. Well, before long, they were talking about farming and ranching, As Elsie listened to their conversation, she realized how much they had in common. Both were California girls—Mary born in San Francisco and Elsie in San Rafael. Mary grew up on the family farm in Dixon and Elsie, although living in San Anselmo, went every weekend to Point Reyes where her father had been affiliated with a ranch from his early years in America until after World War II. Both Mary and Elsie love animals—Mary had a pet lamb and Elsie had a cow named Bessie, long before Borden’s famous Elsie the cow. They both learned to drive a stick shift car at a very early age on the ranch where they couldn’t hurt anyone.
Pastor Don died unexpectedly, and Mary and Chris left the church facility and moved to a condo in the Casitas near the Commons and the library. Chris graduated from Campolindo High School, went to college, married and has two daughters. Mary’s other children and grandchildren attended her 100th birthday party at MVPC on September 14, 2014. Elsie and Mary’s family met but all the children are grown with children and grandchildren of their own.
In early November this year Elsie invited Mary to a Mastick family gathering. She was a SPECIAL GUEST and stole the show as Elsie’s sons, granddaughters, and 3 year old great granddaughter renewed the old friendship.
Mary was a dear lady, loving mother, grandmother, friend and a blessing to all who knew her. She is an inspiration to us all!
Mary died peacefully with her best friend Elsie Mastick by her side on December 10, 2018 at 104 years old.
Article written by Bill Lund.