Having led an adventurous life devoted to music and the outdoors, Mary Jane Martindale of Atascadero passed away on Nov. 8, 2019. She was 88.

Mary grew up in Beverly Hills, the second eldest of four. She started teaching piano when she was 12. In 1953, she graduated from The Juilliard School of Music in New York City with a Bachelor’s of Science in Composition.

It was there that Mary met her first husband, Harry Lewis Robin of Brooklyn. After their first two children, Issa (1955) and Greg (1956), were born, they moved back to Los Angeles, where Alexandra was born (1962).

The next many years were spent raising her children, teaching piano privately, and running the music program at The Oakwood School — a small private high school in North Hollywood. 

Mary remarried (Richard Bert Ferguson) in 1972. They bought 40 acres outside of Creston and moved there that next year. With a learn-by-doing attitude, Mary milked their cow and made butter and cheeses, canned and froze their garden harvests, raised chickens for eggs, pigs for bacon, and rabbits for the market. In 1978, they broke ground and over the next three years built their own 3,400 square foot house, doing all the work “but the hot tar on the roof and the plaster on the thin wall.”

Although music had taken a back seat to farming life, it wasn’t long before Mary grew a new cadre of piano students.

Before their split in 1995, Mary and Rich backpacked the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Swiss Alps, the Pyrenees of Spain, and the Caucasus Mountains of Russia. After their divorce, Mary continued backpacking with groups and solo. She trekked the Brooks Range in Alaska and made many returns to the Sierra. She continued hiking well into her 80s, frequently visiting Cerro Alto and other local trails when she could no longer carry her gear or sleep comfortably on the ground.

She retired from piano teaching when she was 85.

Mary leaves as her legacy three children, three stepchildren, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, and a sister.

A memorial service is being planned for early 2020.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Central Coast Music Teachers Association by contacting them directly at 805-237-2281.

Getting through this together, Atascadero