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Mary Martha Barkley

Theater major, model, beloved great-grandmother, tireless volunteer

Mary Martha (“Dolly”) Barkley died peacefully on February 29 in Claremont.

She was born at her family’s home in Gadsden, Arizona, to Leslie and Floy Barkley, along with her brother Jimmy.

Mary Martha grew up on her family’s cattle ranch in the Yuma Valley. Her idyllic childhood there fostered her love for horses, dogs, storytelling and family. She attended Yuma Union High School, where she excelled scholastically and as the school’s lead majorette.

At age 17 she traveled by train to Southern California to attend USC, where she majored in theater and later received her master’s degree in the same. She would make Southern California her home for the rest of her life, but never lost her love for Arizona, often traveling back for family gatherings.

After receiving her master’s in theater, she worked at CBS as a production assistant and as a professional model. In 1956, she started her own family. She had two children, Floy and Les, whom she adored. She made her California home in Mandeville Canyon, in West Los Angeles.

She was an active volunteer for most of her life, and was instrumental in helping coordinate the junior programs at UCLA for elementary schoolchildren. She spent many years as a leader in the Achievement Rewards for College Scientists Foundation, a women’s organization that provides financial awards for academically outstanding college students.

She also served as a CASA (“Court Appointed Special Advocate”), supporting and advocating for children in the foster care system.

“Her beauty, grace and sophistication were apparent whether she was roping cattle in Arizona or hosting a gala in Los Angeles,” her family shared. “Her greatest love in life were her two children, her six grandchildren and her seven great-grandchildren. She will be dearly missed by those lucky enough to have been hers. Her family is at peace knowing she is in the loving arms of her parents and brother.”

Donations in Ms. Barkley’s honor may be made to AgingNext, a nonprofit with a memory care center serving seniors with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, at www.agingnext.org, or by check to 141 Spring St., Claremont, CA 91711.

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