The Maggie Houlihan we remember

From the privileged position as her husband, I was asked to write a piece about Maggie Houlihan and swiftly went about putting together an article on her accomplishments. From her political successes to her indomitable work on behalf of animals, to her fight to defend our environment, the milestones and accolades were easy to recall. On reading a draft of it to her son Chris he looked at me and remarked that others had covered her service to the community and to animals, why not write an article about Maggie the person? I saw the wisdom in his words and swiftly went about a re-write starting with her challenging childhood growing up in Long Beach. Then there was the time she got into a scuffle at the Airport Club in Seal Beach after which the music star Tina Turner invited her back stage and promptly showed her how to street fight. Onwards to her move to Encinitas shortly after she had conducted her own divorce using a self help law book. The challenges she choose to confront continued as she raised her son while putting herself through college at UCSD where she graduated with highest honors.
I finally realized that recollections of this courageous woman’s struggle and finally prominence in our community could fill fifty editions of the newspaper so I stopped writing. Instead I started to sift through the boxes of get well and thank you cards that have been pouring into our house during Maggie’s five year struggle with cancer. A sampling of the comments from you, the members of our community, tell the real Maggie Houlihan story:
“You have done so much to help so many animals, people and Encinitas! Once I heard someone say that when a person looks back on their life, they hope others will remember them for having done more than keep a clean house. You have accomplished many way more important things and I hope you feel good knowing that you’ve done so much to help make this world a better place.”
“Thank you for the tremendous impact you make on our community”
“Thank you Maggie for repairing Encinitas”
“Thank you for loving Encinitas as much as I do”
“Maggie: Thank you for all you do. You are a true inspiration”
“Maggie: I have so much admiration for you and think of you often”
“I have never known anyone with your courage and determination. You are a great person – we need more like you.”
I heard about your celebration of life (a party held prior to her death) and it is the greatest inspiration to me and to many. What a life that’s been. How much to celebrate. You have meant worlds to our community.”
“We join your many fans in wishing you blessings and thanking you for serving humankind and the animal kingdom with such love and concern.”
“Thanks for being such a wonderful person and advocate for us. You are an inspiration.”
“All the animal law students at California Western School of Law send you their love, prayers and thanks. As does their professor who adores you.”
“You’ve touched and changed so many lives with your unique gifts.”
“No one has worked harder then you have for the greater good of Encinitas and the people!”
“Thanks for being you!”
Thanks Maggie for being you.


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  1. Al Rodbell says:

    Maggie demonstrated that the inherent aggravations of elected office were overshadowed by the satisfactions she found in political life. Her happy exterior could give the illusion of an absence of substance behind her smiling face- which was a serious error.

    Several times I saw her defend an issue at the council, alway explaining her perspective clearly and cogently. But when pushed to the wall, she could focus that keen mind with a flash of anger that showed her opponents what they were up against. Last year when there was a groundswell for a law to increase penalties after a particularly horrible murder, Maggie refused to pretend that this could be funded without causing an increase other crimes; and she had the guts to say so. She was probably the only public official in California who had the reasoned courage to take such a position.

    She will be sorely missed. Knowing her was for me, and so many others, both a joy and an inspiration.

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