Longtime Woodland resident Louise White McNary passed away Saturday after a long battle with cancer. She was 82.
Born in Fresno to William A. and Pearl Hays White, she grew up in Berkeley, where she began a lifetime of playing the cello and piano, participating in youth symphonies in the Bay Area.
At UC Berkeley in 1946, she met her future husband, Don McNary, on a rooters’ train to a Cal football game in Los Angeles, the beginning of a 65-year courtship and marriage. Active in student affairs, she was ASUC Women’s Representative, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Prytenean and Delta Delta Delta sorority. A member of UC Berkeley’s class of 1950, majoring in music, she graduated as the valedictorian and commencement speaker.
Married in July 1950, she and Don lived in Berkeley, Orinda, Hillsborough and San Mateo before moving to Woodland in 1960 with five children — David, Jane, Nancy, Barbara and Patti. The family also lived in Barcelona, Spain, for two years.
Known to all as “Lou,” she was active in music — giving piano and cello lessons, helping rehearse aspiring singers for Woodland High School musical productions and local theater productions, and playing the cello with the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra, traveling with them to Australia and New Zealand. Recently, she donated her beloved cello, “Timothy,” to the UC Davis Symphony Orchestra.
Active in the American Field Service program she and Don hosted exchange students: Osman Cagal of Turkey and Carlos Ramos of Argentina. She was an enthusiastic fan of the Cal Golden Bears and the San Francisco Giants.
A 20-year career as a special education teacher in Woodland, she taught at Beamer, Zamora and Woodland High School, where she was known by students as “Mrs. Mac” and was the adviser to the California Scholastic Federation and the cheerleading squads.
She and Don especially enjoyed traveling to their place at Lake Tahoe, as well as England, Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Australia and New Zealand. Lou volunteered for years at polling places in Woodland, and was also active in P.E.O. Chapter FI.
Don and Lou received official congratulations from President Obama last summer while celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary at their place in Lake Tahoe.
She is survived by her husband, Don; her sister Jean Smith of Corpus Christi, Texas; by her children David McNary (Sharon) of Pasadena, Jane O’Meara of Berkeley, Nancy Leach (David) of Arlington, Va., Barbara Spindler (John) of San Jose, and Patti McNary of Davis; and by 10 grandchildren (April, Andrew, Will, Alex, Jennifer, Stephanie, Christopher, Willie, Jamie and Johnny).
Memorial services are pending. The family suggests donations to the McNary Scholarship Fund at the California Alumni Association, UC Berkeley.