Maria Pitcairn Obituary (1936 – 2022) – Ross, CA

Maria Van Buskirk Pitcairn
November 12, 1936 – February 10, 2022
Maria left that life as she lived it with grace and style on February 10, surrounded by her family at her home in Indian Wells, California. Diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer on Christmas Eve, she filled her remaining days to the max; she led a conga line on New Years Eve, hiked Joshua Tree with her grandsons, explored the San Andreas Rift by jeep, and spent many happy hours visiting family and friends. his friends. She was grateful for the opportunity to say goodbye to him and felt blessed by the outpouring of memories shared by friends, alumni and colleagues. Maria was an inspiration until the end.
Born November 12, 1936 to Marie and Guy Black in Chattanooga, TN, Maria grew up in Signal Mountain. She was an accomplished athlete; golf was his family sport. She studied diving at Northwestern University. It was there that she met her future husband Jim Van Buskirk on a Spring Break ski trip to Colorado when a conductor assigned them the same seat on the train. For the next 43 years, their passion for skiing took them on many adventures across North America and Europe to South America and New Zealand, but they always returned to their cabin well. -loved on the West Shore of Tahoe where Maria taught their daughters Karen and Kristina to ski and later hit the slopes with her grandsons Jordan and Jack.
Maria was a gifted teacher. She taught English at Redwood High School from 1968 to 1993. More than 7,500 students walked through her classroom to learn about mythology, analyze Shakespeare, and dissect mass media. Long after her retirement, she met former students, often on a Marin hiking trail, who exclaimed, “Mrs. Van, you were my favorite teacher! »
Maria was always on the move. When the 1979 oil crisis created long lines at the gas pump and astronomical prices for a teacher’s salary, Maria hung up her car keys and roller-skated to Redwood High. . An article in the IJ about his roller-skating journey resulted in a national television news segment.
After Jim’s death (2001), she met John Pitcairn, another Ross resident. It was love at first sight. They spent the next 10 years, until John’s death from cancer, traveling the world in hot air balloons. They were also active supporters of the Marin Symphony, San Francisco Opera, and Marin General Hospital. She continued to share her passion for travel, culture and philanthropy with her dear partner Robert Beadle. Maria has served on the boards of the Marin Health Foundation and the SF Opera Guild as well as the vestry of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ross, where she was a member since 1966. She was also a member of Marin Charitable , Masque Unit and the Saint-François yacht club.
Community was very important to Maria. She created it everywhere she went. She enjoyed talking to strangers many of whom became lifelong friends. Her zest for life was an inspiration to all who knew her. She was one of a kind and will be missed by many. She is survived by her beloved partner Robert Beadle; daughters, Karen, husband Stanley Stern and grandsons Jordan and Jack; and, Kristina, husband Greg Hoffman and daughters-in-law Kim and Jessy and their husbands and children.
A celebration of life will be held Thursday, April 7 at 2 p.m. at St John’s Episcopal Church in Ross. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Maria’s memory to Marin Charitable (, SF Opera Guild Endowment Fund ( or Hospice of the Bay (

View the Maria Van Buskirk Pitcairn Memorial Online

Published by Marin Independent Journal Obits on February 20, 2022.

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