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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Dorothy Stotsenberg: Cowgirl, Journalist, Author and Philanthropist

• Her Articles in the Malibu Surfside News Were Many Current Residents’ Introduction to Local History


Longtime Malibu resident, journalist, publicist, horse woman, athlete, university patron and philanthropist Dorothy Stotsenberg has died. She was 97.
Stotsenberg was born in Wisconsin in 1914, where she attended a one-room school. Her family moved to California in 1923. She had her first tantalizing glimpse of Malibu that year. “The occasion was a Sunday afternoon visit to the ‘Rindge Castle’ then under construction,” Stotsenberg wrote in the preface to her 2005 book “My Fifty Years in Malibu.”
“One of my uncles was a carpenter working on the building. I have no recollection of my father’s getting permission to drive through the guarded gate at Las Flores nor of the construction—just of looking through the fence at the expanse of sand.”
She would spend more than 60 years in Malibu and become a vibrant part of the community’s life.
Stotsenberg studied journalism at the University of Washington in Seattle. Later, she would receive a master’s degree in journalism from UCLA.
She met and married accountant Edward G. Stotsenberg while working as the society editor of the Yakima Daily Republic—her first job after graduating from college.
Stotsenberg recounted in a 2005 interview with the Malibu Surfside News that she outscored her future husband at a local shooting gallery on their second date, and “thought it might be the last time he called.”
The marriage thrived for 62 years.
The couple moved from Washington to Boston, where Stotsenberg’s husband received an MBA from Harvard. They then went west to Los Angeles, where he opened a private accounting firm.
After settling in Altadena, “we realized we had spent every weekend, rain or shine, at the beach,” she wrote. “An office dinner brought us to Malibu’s famous Sea Lion Cafe. As we drove along the beach we noticed ‘for rent’ signs on about half the little houses bordering the ocean. Most intriguing!”
In 1949, the Stotsenbergs moved into an apartment on Big Rock Beach “for a year, to see how we liked it.” They joined the Malibu Presbyterian Church, Trancas Riders and Ropers and the Malibu Township Council and “were soon in the thick of community activities.” In 1952 they bought a house on Carbon Beach. In 1978 they built a home on Mulholland Highway, where Dorothy Stotsenberg lived until her death.
Stotsenberg was deeply interested in Malibu’s history. Her columns in the Malibu Surfside News and other publications, written over the course of several decades, formed the basis for her book “My Fifty Years in Malibu,” which provides autobiographical anecdotes and a look at many historical aspects of the community.
According to a statement released by Pepperdine University, Stotsenberg said “I didn’t know writing a book would be so much fun...[it’s]more attention than I’ve ever had before! Beverly [Gosnell] interviewed me; I had my picture taken for the newspaper. Old friends from the Los Angeles Philharmonic came to visit me, and now I have a book signing where I’ll get to see even more friends. It’s really super.”
Stotsenberg and her husband were generous supporters of Pepperdine. The Stotsenberg Track on the Malibu campus honors the couple’s enthusiasm as runners—Stotsenberg took up the sport at 66, she said she was tired of watching from the stands while her husband competed.
Stotsenberg was also an avid supporter of the university’s music and arts program, endowing the Stotsenberg Recital Series and the Parkening Guitar Competition at the Center for the Arts. She served on the Crest Advisory Board and the Center for the Arts executive board, and was a member of Pepperdine’s Crystal Wave Society.
Stotsenberg raised American saddlebred horses, participated for many years in the Trancas Riders and Ropers, hiked, biked, ran marathons, was an energetic patron of the arts and participated in a wide range of community activities. She was reportedly working on a second book at the time of her death.
A memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday, March 23 at 10 a.m. in Smothers Theatre at Pepperdine University.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to: St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church, Church Expansion Fund, 28211 PCH, Malibu, CA 90265 or Pepperdine University Center for the Arts 24255 PCH, Malibu, CA 90263.
Condolences can be sent to 40730 Calle Bandido Ranch Admin. Bldg. Murrieta, CA 92562-9235.

JOURNALIST—Stotsenberg chronicled the history of Malibu and her own experiences in the community for local media. Her column for the Malibu Surfside News provided an introduction to the community’s complex and often quirky past.

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