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Small children playing together

An Audacious Adventurer

The youngest Gauchos learn and grow with help from Margaret Becker Morez 

Margaret lives in a house full of art, where paintings line each surface and lean against the walls. Many are the works of her late husband, Gordon, a San Marcos High School art teacher who mentored students. As one of eight children and a beloved aunt to her nieces and nephews, Margaret shares his connection to young people. Her legacy gift to UC Santa Barbara’s Early Childhood Care and Education Services will help struggling parents care for their families. 

Margaret’s life is as colorful as her home. She graduated from high school in Bristol, South Dakota, then joined her sister and husband in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After serving in Washington, D.C., and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, she enrolled in UC Santa Barbara with her GI benefits. Much to her surprise, the campus was a former military base. The old barracks were turned into dorms where the same bunk beds were covered in the Navy bedspreads she had just left. 

After two years at UC Santa Barbara, Margaret transferred and graduated from UCLA, then accepted a job at the UCSB Library, where she quickly fit in. She joined a choir of library colleagues called the Hollybush Singers. Margaret worked in the reserve book room, the acquisitions department and the circulation department. 

Then the earthquake hit. The books came tumbling down, and Margaret led the organizing effort with help from library staff and student assistants. This led to her transfer to the stacks services unit within circulation. 

Margaret’s leadership and spark animated a long and fulfilling career of 31 years mentoring her staff and student employees, including UC Santa Barbara Foundation Trustee Rafael Costas ’86. Rafael included the UCSB Library in his estate plans, and to honor his time working there, his plans include naming the new music listening room ‘The Margaret Becker Morez and the Gordon Morez Music Listening Room’ in their honor. Margaret continues helping future generations through her generosity to Early Childhood Care and Education Services.

“My hope is to support hard-working parents who do not have enough money to place their kids there, especially mothers who are students,” said Margaret. Through her support, Margaret enriches local families in the spirit of her own vibrant life and the 22 years she spent with her husband.

“I want to help parents who can’t afford to have something good for their kids,” Margaret said. “If you come to a point where you are lucky enough to have some money to give, you should.”