OCEANSIDE — Friends of the late Esther McCord have launched a campaign to raise $2,000 for a bronze plaque and sign that will be placed at the entrance to the library at South Oceanside Elementary School, which will be dedicated to McCord at 2:30 p.m. on May 23.
McCord was the first librarian for the school. She served from 1967 to 1997.
“If each student during those 30 years gave 25 cents, we could do it,” said former PTA president Jan DesRosier. “Since we can’t locate every student, $10 per family with 200 families contributing would be great.”
McCord was born in Detroit, Mich., on Nov. 28, 1927, to Muriel and Francis Engebretson. Her father, a native San Diegan, moved the family to Oceanside in 1942 when he was recruited to supervise the development of Camp Pendleton on the former Santa Margarita Ranch. According to her brother, Chuck Engebretson, the family’s first home was in a campground located on The Strand near the Oceanside Pier.
“Then my parents bought property from the superintendent of schools,” he explained. “We had five bedrooms and a garage that my father converted into a two-bedroom living area.” The house was on Lomita Street just west of what is now Buddy Todd Park in Oceanside.
Francis Engebretson acquired 28 horses and cattle from the Santa Margarita Ranch that he brought to the property for his children to enjoy.
Life was good until Francis Engebretson suffered a massive heart attack and died in 1947, leaving his survivors to fend for themselves.
“My mother and sister turned the house into a nursing home so they could save the property,” Chuck Engebretson explained. “They lived in the smaller house.” Esther married Robert McCord in 1952 and remained on the property, raising sons Ted and Guy, and daughter Kathy.
When her mother became ill in the late 1960s, they closed the doors of the nursing home. Esther got a job as a librarian at the South Oceanside Elementary School.
“I met Esther when my daughter was in kindergarten,” remembers Karie Lasko. “She was so encouraging with the kids. There wasn’t anyone she couldn’t call by name.”
Lasko said that McCord also knew the parents, and encouraged them to volunteer.
“She was such an influence on us young Moms,” Lasko recalls. “That’s why I continued to volunteer and get on the board of the PTA.”
It was McCord’s ability to recruit volunteers that made her legendary. When health issues forced her into retirement in 1997, she reemerged as a member of Friends of the Library at the Oceanside Public Library.
“She would talk to anybody and everyone she met and say, ‘Do you want to volunteer at the library?’” Lasko remembers. “If they were senior citizens and didn’t have a car, she’d offer to pick them up. Afterwards she’d take them shopping.”
McCord was acknowledged for her contribution to the city of Oceanside in a proclamation presented by Mayor Jim Woods on October 29, 2009. Woods credited her with generating more than $55,000 revenue annually through used book sales, and donating more than 10,000 volunteer hours.
“When it came time for Esther to say something, of course, she used her time to announce an upcoming event and to make an appeal for more volunteers,” said Cheri Noel, volunteer coordinator for the Oceanside Public Library. “Typical Esther. She recruited more than 240 volunteers during her time here at the library, and it took a total of seven volunteers to fill her shoes after she passed away.”
Esther McCord died July 31, 2010. She was 82.
Carre Scivoletti met McCord at Unity Way Church of Vista, where Muriel Engebretson was a founding member.
“Esther became a very close friend, mentoring me in serving at church, and before long had me volunteering for all sorts of things,” she said. “I remember her saying, ‘God’s in charge’ and ‘You can do it’ to all she encouraged and taught.”
For information about donating money towards a bronze plaque and sign for the Esther McCord Library, contact Karie Lasko at (760) 805-1906 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The South Oceanside Elementary School is located at 1806 South Horne St. A reception in the library will follow the dedication.