University of California: In Memoriam, 1986

Florence Clark Meredith, Home Economics: Santa Barbara

Professor Emerita

Florence Clark Meredith died on July 16, 1986 at a medical center near her home in Worland, Wyoming at the age of 95. She believed in and exercised that unique quality of doing for others as exemplified by her lifelong service to the University and the community.

Born on a farm near Elgin, Nebraska, on February 4, 1981, she learned early of the rigors of rural living. Her grandparents, with whom she lived for a few years, resided in a sod house (unique for being the only two-story sod house in the area), and she rode a pony the one and a half miles to school. Her high school training was at Gates Academy, a boarding school in the town of Neligh, Nebraska.

After graduating in 1913 from Pomona College in Claremont, California with a bachelor of arts degree in history, she continued her education, receiving her teaching credential from the former Santa Barbara State Normal School of Manual Arts and Home Economics. She did her student teaching under the late Miss Pearl Chase, who, even then, was very active in Santa Barbara civic affairs. This relationship blossomed into a career-long association in continuing community service.

In the fall of 1914 Mrs. Meredith accepted the position of teacher of Home Economics in Claremont High School, Claremont, California. She continued in this position for eight years before attending Columbia University in New York. There she earned her master's degree in June, 1923.

She returned to Santa Barbara to teach home economics at the former Normal School which by then was known as Santa Barbara State College. In 1942 the College became a campus of the University of California. Meredith attained the rank of full professor at that time and was the chairman of the department from 1954 until retiring in 1956, when she became professor emeritus.

She had the distinction of being a student or teacher on three main campuses of what is now the University of California, Santa Barbara. Mrs.

Meredith moved to the Riviera Campus in 1913 as a student with her class of 39 women and 11 men from the original building located at the corner of Victoria and Chapala streets. The college remained on the Riviera until moving to its present location in 1954.

In keeping with her philosophy of service she was a busy and working member of many organizations and activities in the community: In 1936 Meredith was a founding member of the Altrusa Club of Santa Barbara which was the first city women's service club in Santa Barbara. She was a member of the ET Chapter of PEO Sisterhood, the American Home Economics Association, and the American Association of University Professors. In addition to being a volunteer with the Santa Barbara City Recreation Department, she was also a sponsor and legal advisor for student sororities and an honorary fraternity on campus. She served on many faculty and administrative committees and then, in World War II, added the duty of being an Army airplane spotter. She also worked with the late Miss Chase to develop the Santa Barbara Better Homes Program.

On December 22, 1945, she married Harlan Meredith. They had become acquainted when both were members of the Congregational Church choir. Friends remember Harlan and Florence as music lovers who faithfully attended performances on campus and in town, usually in front row seats in deference to Harlan's hearing. He died here in 1971.

Some time after his death she decided to move to Worland, Wyoming to be near her remaining family. In the fall of 1979 a former student, Vera Ricci, arranged with the University of California Alumni Association and the Special Collections Department of the UCSB Library to have Meredith record her personal history from 1914 to 1956 and to donate this oral history to the Special Collections Department.

In the fall of 1980 Meredith was honored at a banquet given by the UCSB Alumni Association. She was presented with the first Annual Pearl Chase Award. This is an award now being given each year to a person associated with the University and with at least 15 years of service to the local community. The $250 honorarium accompanying the award was donated by Meredith to the UCSB Student and Community Affairs Organization, which, in turn, presented the funds to the Tay Sach Foundation. This foundation tests for the disease (Tay Sachs) among descendants of eastern European Jews.

Colleagues remember Florence Meredith as tough-minded, friendly, and tolerant of the differences in opinion which characterized the earliest years of the transition from the State College system to the University of California. As a member of a wide range of organizations she tackled their problems judiciously with successful determination.

Mrs. Meredith was a dedicated teacher who gave 33 years of service to

the University and more than 50 years of service to the Santa Barbara community. She stands tall in the pioneer group of noted teachers from that era.

Elmer Noble Gladys Van Fossen Lucille A. Woolsey

About this text
Courtesy of University Archives, The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000;
Title: 1986, University of California: In Memoriam
By:  University of California (System) Academic Senate, Author
Date: 1986
Contributing Institution:  University Archives, The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000;
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