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Marjorie Redman Hogeland Mackey, 88, of Atascadero passed away at home on Friday, May 22, 2009 surrounded by her family.

By Atascadero News Staff

Marj Mackey

Marj Mackey

A memorial service will be held on Friday, May 29 at 10:30 a.m. at the Community Church of Atascadero United Church of Christ, 5850 Rosario Ave. Rev. Susan Brecht will officiate. A reception will be held immediately following in Fellowship Hall.

Marj was born in April 1921 in Lewistown, Mont., the eldest child of Frank and Ola May Hogeland. She graduated from Fergus County High School in 1939. After graduation, she worked various clerical jobs in the area. In 1942, Marj moved from Lewistown to Los Angeles to work at Lockheed in the clerical pool. At Lockheed she met her future husband, John C. Mackey, after he returned from serving in the Army in the South Pacific during World War II. They were married on Sept. 7, 1946 in Lewistown, Mont. in Marj’s parents’ home, which she had owned since she was 21.

They continued to work at Lockheed until John was hired by the state to be an accountant-auditor in the Department of Employment in Sacramento. Their eldest daughter, Marjorie “Candy,” was born there in 1948. Soon after Candy was born, they moved to Riverside where they lived for 13 years. Their son John was born in 1951 and their youngest daughter, Melinda “Dean,” in 1954.

They moved to Atascadero in 1961 when John was transferred to San Luis Obispo County. They moved into a colony house on Bajada Avenue, where their children grew up. They immediately got involved in girl scouts, boy scouts and PTA. Soon after they moved to Atascadero, they joined the Community Church of Atascadero and were members until their respective deaths.

In 1965, Marj led a group of citizens to save Atascadero founder, E.G. Lewis’ estate, which was where Vons currently stands. They did not succeed in their attempt and the buildings were burned to make room for Williams Bros, which was not built for another 10 years. Out of that attempt, the Atascadero Historical Society was formed. Marj served on its board until her resignation in April. The society’s museum was first opened on Sept. 16, 1967 in what is now the City Administration Building.

Marj worked at the Santa Margarita Library as a librarian and was a substitute librarian at the Atascadero Library, which was then located in the City Administration Building.

Before the days of postcard voter registration, Marj was a registrar of voters and got paid 10 cents for each person she registered. She also worked in the election office during the time of getting ready for an election. She worked there from 1970 to 1976.

Marj served on Atascadero’s advisory committee for 11 years and ran for a seat on the City Council the first year the city had the opportunity to vote for incorporation. Incorporation failed and Marj was the ninth highest vote-getter out of 31 people running for the five open seats. In 1979, incorporation was on the ballot again and passed that time, with Marj being the third-highest vote-getter and being the only female council member on the five-person council. Her first term was for three years and she served a total of 11 years on the council. She served as the first woman mayor in 1983 to 1984 and served as mayor again in 1986 to 1987.

Marj has been known as a tree protector and a big believer of recycling. She served on the traffic committee after Barbara Norris asked that there be a citizen representative on it.

Marj founded the Atascadero Land Preservation Society in 1989. From ALPS, Atascadero Native Tree Association was formed. Marj is well-known for planting native trees in Atascadero and hauling around milk jugs full of water to water the seedlings to be sure they survive in Atascadero’s hot weather.

A testament to Marj’s character is that in the month before her death, she started Friends of Stadium Park from her bed.

Marj is preceded in death by her husband, John, and her brother Jim Hogeland.

She is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Fred Wagner of Seattle; her children and their spouses, Candy and Jim Hood of Kite, Ga., John and Rosann Mackey of Grass Valley, and Dean and Larry Young of Ellinwood, Kan.; grandchildren and their spouses, Steve Hood of Los Gatos, Ken and Nikki Hood of Walnut Creek, Tom Hood of San Jose, Jason Mackey, Joey and Jenn Mackey and Jeff Mackey, all of Grass Valley, Heather Young Curry of Atascadero and Tyler and Jen Gray-Young of Kansas City, Mo.; great-grandchildren, Juliana and Joshua Hartman and Lucas and Logan Mackey, all of Grass Valley, Kyne and Cameron Hood of San Jose and Amalia Young of Atascadero; and many cousins, nieces and nephews around the country.

In lieu of flowers the family asks you to contribute to the Friends of Stadium Park, P.O. Box 940, Atascadero, CA 93423, Atascadero Historical Society, 6600 Lewis Ave., Atascadero, CA 93422; Atascadero Land Preservation Society, P.O. Box 940, Atascadero, CA 93423; or to go out and plant an oak tree in her memory.

First female mayor of Atascadero was a champion of the city

Marj Mackey

Marj Mackey

When I arrived in Atascadero in the summer of 1966, I became immediately fascinated with the large four-story building that anchored the Sunken Gardens in the middle of town.

 At the first opportunity, I wandered down to the imposing structure and found an open door. Once inside, I stuck my head in a small room on the east end of the building and saw a woman rearranging books. I asked her about the building, and she gave me my first history lesson on Atascadero. The woman was Marjorie Mackey.

That was the beginning of a 43-year friendship. It didn’t happen overnight.I became acquainted with her again six years later, when I became editor of the Atascadero News. I quickly learned that “Marj,” as she wanted to be known, had strong feelings about Atascadero, not only its past but what kind of community it would become.

Having moved here in 1961, she led a futile battle to save the E.G. Lewis estate from destruction in 1965. Failing to save the Lewis home from a practice burn, she formed the Atascadero Historical Society. She even bought Lewis’ small office building and had it moved behind her home on Tunitas Avenue.
As a member of the Advisory Committee, she helped draft the community’s first general plan that was adopted by the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors, and she later voted for it as a member of the first City Council. She was the first woman to serve as mayor of Atascadero.
She championed the public use and city ownership of Stadium Park. She helped dig weeds out of downtown sidewalks on cleanup days. I, along with many others, helped her carry water for small trees she had planted in Stadium Park. Fortunately, she stopped along the trail, so I could catch up.
She fought for tree protection, large lots and preservation of the rural lifestyle in Atascadero.
I watched her vote for projects she absolutely hated but did so because the applicant had complied with all the rules in place at the time.
As our friendship grew, she turned me into a local history junkie. With an excellent memory and great recall, she insisted that I keep our history alive and saw to it that I was named historian (in her place) for the Historical Society only last month.
Marj Mackey will be deservedly honored by the City Council tonight for all that she did for this community. I am sad to report that Marj passed away last Friday night, a few days after I penned this column.
Lon Allan can be reached at 466-8529 or

Longtime Atascadero advocate Marj Mackey dies at home

Marj Mackey

Marj Mackey


Marjorie Mackey, a former Atascadero City Council member and ardent lover of her city’s oaks, streams and history, died at her home May 22. She was 88.

Known as a straight shooter who spoke her mind, Mackey was also widely admired for her self-effacing sense of humor, which came to the fore whenever she might absent-mindedly misplace her keys or other items.

Born in Lewiston, Mont., Marj (as she preferred to be called) moved to Atascadero in 1961 with husband John and children Candy, John and Dean. In short order, she was involved in Girl Scouts as a troop leader and president of the Lewis Avenue Elementary School PTA.

Around that time, she also started working for the county library system and the county elections office as a registrar.

As an outspoken advocate for Atascadero’s rural ambience who was aligned in the slow-growth camp, she helped found the Atascadero Historical Society in 1965 after the colony home of the community’s founder, E.G. Lewis, was torn down.

“She was real instrumental in getting The Printery and Administration Rotunda named as historical landmarks,” said Historical Society President Jim Wilkins, whose father, Bob, served on the city’s first council with Mackey.

By 1968, Mackey was involved in public service as a member of the county advisory council that was drawing up the then-unincorporated town’s general plan.

That platform of 11 years of service — as well as the thousands of voters she registered — gave her a high-enough profile to win a council seat in 1979 after the community opted to become an incorporated city.

She would eventually serve 11 years on the council, two of those as mayor, and take a measure of pride in the fact that she never spent more than $500 on a run for office, didn’t take campaign contributions and never bought an election ad.

“It’s a terrible thing when money can get the job — City Council or federal,” she told a reporter in 1995. “It should go to someone who has proven himself or herself in the community.”

Her time on the council was marked by a couple of characteristics: Her colleagues always knew where she stood on an issue, and although they may not have agreed with her stances, she was highly respected.

“I was on the Planning Commission for the last two years she was on the council,” said former mayor and councilman George Luna, “and I found we agreed on history and the natural environment. She was really a kindred spirit. She was a real lady.”

“She was very fair in her dealings,” said Lon Allan, who, as the editor of Atascadero News, knew her personally and professionally for more than 40 years. He once called her a “fuzzy-minded environmentalist.”

“She was as liberal and to the left philosophically as you could be,” Allan said, adding, “She never let that rule her judgment on projects. And she never carried a grudge: once the vote was taken, it was on to other topics and issues.”

To call her a tree-hugger was an honorific to Mackey. She helped found the Atascadero Native Tree Association, which was the seed for the Atascadero Land Preservation Society, and pushed for tough city tree ordinances, creek setbacks and open space — issues that still simmer within the community.

In later years, she firmly affixed her sights on Stadium Park, a 26-acre parcel that features hillsides, oaks and a natural amphitheater.

Created in 1915 by Lewis as the spiritual center of the colony, the community’s first Christian church, the Atascadero Community Church, held services in the park.

The city bought the park 30 years later, but is in a quandary as to what to do with it. For Mackey, one option was simple: plant more oaks.

She led groups and individuals in planting and watering the striplings, using milk jugs as their watering cans. The month before she died, she founded the Friends of Stadium Park while bedridden.

Mackey is survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Nancy and Fred Wagner; her children and their spouses: Candy and Jim Hood, John and Rosann Mackey, and Dean and Larry Young; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service is set for Friday at 10:30 a.m. at the Community Church of Atascadero United Church of Christ, 5850 Rosario Ave.

To contribute

Contributions in Marj Mackey’s memory may be made to the Friends of Stadium Park, P.O. Box 940, Atascadero, CA 93423; Atascadero Historical Society, 6600 Lewis Ave., Atascadero, CA 93422; or Atascadero Land Preservation Society, P.O. Box 940, Atascadero, CA 93423.

Looking back: New Museum in Atascadero

By AnnMarie Cornejo – acornejo@thetribunenews.comThe Atascadero Historical Society will once again have a place to display riches from the Atascadero Historical Society Museum city’s past. capture.jpg

The artifacts have been tucked away in boxes in a storage unit since the San Simeon Earthquake in 2003 damaged the Rotunda Building, where the collection was originally displayed.

With the Rotunda Building still years and millions of dollars away from being restored, the society’s board of directors decided it was time to move forward. Portions of the society’s collection are now on display for public perusal at the Colony House – across the road from the former City Hall. Read the rest of this entry »

Arlyne’s Flower Shop

 By Harriet Hughes

It is February 1950. Turn back the pages of history and take a stroll down the alley off Traffic Way turn right and enter the Carlton Hotel. Here’s the place to buy a Valentine bouquet for your sweetheart. Chances are Charlene Bliss and her daughter Arlyne Highfill Casper will be there to assist you. This unique mother and daughter team had a fine garden at their Curbaril Avenue home and shared a love of flowers. This provided the impetus to open a floral shop in downtown Atascadero. Read the rest of this entry »

Atascadero – Wikipedia Entry

The City of Atascadero is a community located halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco on Highway 101, about 225 miles (362 km) from each city. Atascadero is situated within an oak woodland off Highway 101 twenty miles (32 km) north of San Luis Obispo and 10 miles (16 km) south of Paso Robles. Nearby CA Highways 41 and 46 provide easy access to the Pacific Coast and the Central Valley of California. Read the rest of this entry »

A Visionary’s Voyage reviewed by Sarah Linn

Nearly a century ago, Edward Gardner Lewis looked across a vast plain bordered by mountain peaks and ocean waves and saw a city.
“Atascadero was a cow pasture,” said Atascadero printer Mike Lucas. “This fellow was a true visionary who took a cow pasture and turned it into a town.”A new book by former Atascadero News editor Lon Allan looks at Lewis and his legacy.”Atascadero: The vision of one-The work of many” follows the history of Atascadero from 1776, when Juan Bautista de Anza and his men made camp on an oak-covered plain called “La Asuncion,” to the summer of 1979, when Atascadero achieved cityhood. Read the rest of this entry »

Atascadero: The vision of one – The Work of Many

by L. W. Allan, 2008.

real-cover-of-book.jpg Chronicles more than 100 years of Atascadero history, from when the deAnza Party camped along the Salinas River in March of 1776 to the summer of 1979 when voters approved cityhood. Read the rest of this entry »

The Birth of Atascadero

by Marguerite A. Travis

Dedicated to
Edward Gardner Lewis
With thanks to Mrs. Mabelle Frandsen, Dr. Alice Reinholt, and Mrs. Grace Clemence for their assistance in editing and revising this story. Digital Transcription by Donna Shinoda
October 2005



Once upon a time, nearly fifty years ago, a young man dreamed a dream, saw a vision, did a lot of wishful thinking that one day bore fruit in action; and the dream became a reality. Read the rest of this entry »

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