In Passing: Margaret Jane Dyruff, December 27, 1927 – October 7, 2020

By Montecito Journal   |   October 29, 2020
Margaret Jane Dyruff led an adventurous life of travel, organizing events for the Channel City Club and volunteering

Margaret Jane Dyruff (née Stivers), age 92, died peacefully of natural causes at home on October 7. She was born on December 27, 1927, in Ripley, Ohio to the late AJ Stivers II and Eliese Bambach Stivers. “Baby Jane” was the middle of five children, and was an active 4-H member and Girl Scout camper. 

She attended Ripley High School and graduated in 1946 from Grier School in Tyrone, Pennsylvania, where she learned to solo pilot a yellow Piper Cub. She attended the University of Cincinnati, and at the request of her father, she joined a sorority. It was through Alpha Gamma Delta that Jane met her lifelong friend Erma Duppstadt. 

Jane and Erma decided to move to San Francisco together in Jane’s green Pontiac, a wayward road trip that took them to Denver, Salt Lake City, and even to a bullfight in Tijuana, Mexico. In San Francisco, Jane met the late Robert Dyruff, the love of her life. The two were engaged after a six-month romance and their wedding was heralded as the most beautiful ceremony in Ripley.

She raised four children and took in two nieces in their teens, which made for a very busy household. She often said she had no idea how she could cook for that many people every day! Her mac n’ cheese recipe became a family favorite, as did her chocolate birthday cakes. 

In Montecito, Jane worked with the Channel City Club for nearly 20 years organizing community speaking events. She served as a trained volunteer with the Montecito Emergency Response & Recovery Action Group, and during the 2008 Tea Fire she helped coordinate fire engines coming into Montecito from all over California to park at Lower Manning Park. On her 90th birthday, MTO firefighters joined in celebrating with her, much to her delight. 

Her life was adventurous and her passport full. She took solo trips to New Orleans and the Bahamas, vacationed with friends in Cuba and Hawaii, and travelled with the Committee on Foreign Relations to China, Russia, Georgia, and Cuba with the Art Museum, among other places. Most recent trips include an exploration of Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and a theater tour of England with her family. At age 70, she gleefully added skydiving to her long list of exploits.

Jane was a lifelong learner, and took lessons in jewelry making and lapidary at Santa Barbara City College’s Continuing Education Division. Her projects included bronze busts of two grandchildren, a jack-in-the-pulpit carved from alabaster stone, and her son-in-law Jeff’s wedding ring. She also attended masterclasses at The Music Academy of the West, and especially enjoyed the percussion courses. She was a proud docent at the historic Casa del Herrero for 25 years, which she helped shepherd to its landmark status. She led workshops, tours, and completed a years-long inventory project with fellow volunteer and friend Joyce Johnson.

When her parents passed away, Jane and her sister donated the family home in Ripley, Ohio to the town to become a museum. The Ripley Heritage Museum is a 10-room, 1850s Federal-style house filled with historic artifacts and Civil War memorabilia from Ripley.

Jane was an independent woman up until the very end and instilled that sense of autonomy to her children and grandchildren. She was the matriarch of her family and the pillar of all holiday gatherings. Left to glean her lessons are daughter Victoria Harbison and her husband, Jeff, of Santa Barbara; and sons Bradley Dyruff and wife, Karen Roberts, of Montecito; Grant Dyruff and wife, Jill, of Montecito; and Whitney Dyruff of Lake Tahoe; and nieces Zua Stivers of Olympia, Washington, and Sheree Stivers of Portland, Oregon. Her beloved grandchildren – Sarah Ashton and her husband, Jeff, of Goleta; Graham Harbison of San Francisco; Crosby Harbison and his fiancée, Allison Considine, of New York City; and Nicholas Dyruff and Lauren Dyruff of Montecito – will carry her memories onward. 

In her final days, family tended to her with hand holding and virtual serenades on the piano. Jane always said that “getting old is for the birds,” and that that’s why she put it off as long as she did. She left this world a better, brighter place.

The family wishes memorial contributions be made to any of the following:

The Ripley Heritage Museum
219 North Second Street
Ripley, Ohio 45167, USA

Music Academy of the West Scholarship Program
1070 Fairway Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108

Casa del Herrero
1387 East Valley Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108

595 San Ysidro Road
Santa Barbara, CA 93108


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