Marian Staver remembered for her spirit and creativity

Longtime Del Mar resident Marian Staver, whose generosity, creativity and caring nature was felt throughout the community, died May 19 of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. She was 86.

“She was a major influence on Del Mar being developed as an aesthetic and quiet community,” friend Doug Allred said.

While her husband, Ralph Staver, took a more public role in civic affairs, serving on the Del Mar City Council, Allred said Marian’s eye for beauty and love of the natural environment was equally significant.

He credits the progressive couple with inspiring him to help save Seagrove Park and incorporate as many trees as possible in the development of Del Mar Woods.

“They were a team,” Allred said. “They had a deep love for Del Mar, and doing things that would make Del Mar special.”

Staver was born on Jan. 22, 1923, in Los Angeles. Orphaned at 13, she lived with her aunt when not at boarding school. She earned a philosophy degree from Stanford University in 1945 and married Ralph Staver three years later.

“They liked to laugh,” said daughter Ann Irwin of her parents. “They could be silly together.”

The couple first came to Del Mar in the late 1940s, renting a home on the beach, but did not move here permanently until 1964. They lived on a beautiful oceanfront property at the south end of the city, where they often hosted community meetings, parties and fundraisers.

“She was always extremely generous in giving of her home and garden for meetings, lunches,” said Marnie Mahoney, a friend and fellow Del Mar Garden Club member. “That would always include a train ride.”

Ralph Staver, who loved trains, installed a miniature railroad that wound through their property. Children and adults alike - be it for school field trips, parties or Irwin’s wedding reception departure - delighted in the whimsical attraction.

Their imagination did not stop there - Marian’s stunning gardens also included a hedge labyrinth.

Marian Staver was a woman of many interests, but music was her favorite by far, Irwin said. An accomplished pianist, she also played a pipe organ in her home.

“We grew up with every type of music conceivable,” Irwin said.

Marian was an active supporter of the San Diego Opera, underwriting new compositions and spearheading fundraising campaigns. She was also a founding member of the Del Mar Garden Club, a former president of the Wednesday Club and member of the philanthropic organization PEO Sisterhood.

However, Marian’s greatest love was for her family. She raised six children, and enjoyed baking cookies, sewing doll outfits, and spending time with her 13 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

“Having a big family and keeping us all close was very important to her,” Irwin said.

Marian Staver is survived by her daughter Ann Irwin and her four sons: Dan, Tom, John and Larry Staver and their families. She was predeceased by her husband Ralph and her son James.