Obituary Listings

Mildred Beth Kring

February 5, 1928 February 1, 2018
Mildred Beth Kring
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Obituary for Mildred Beth Kring

On Thursday, February 1st, four days shy of her 90th birthday, surrounded by friends and family, Mildred Beth Kring passed peacefully in her sleep. “Millie” as she was known to friends, and “Nanny” as her grandchildren referred to her, lived a big, colorful life that touched and impacted so many others. The matriarch of a large extended clan of children and grandchildren, she was both the ballast and the glue that held it all together. Millie’s life was marked by service to others, as she dedicated herself first and foremost to her family. But this same passion extended to her community, to politics and to greater social justice.

Millie was born in San Francisco, California on February 5th, 1928, the only child of Eastern European Jewish parents. As a child, she excelled at the piano and became an accomplished pianist by age 12. She attended the University of the Pacific (then College of Pacific), where she put that “11 key reach” from her piano playing to good use putting herself through school as a typist. It was there that she met the love of her life, Ray Kring. The two were wed in 1948. Kenny, the first of four children, arrived in 1952, followed by Buddy in 1953, and twins Rebecca and Tim in 1957.

The family moved to Santa Maria in 1968 when Ray accepted a job as the Track and Cross Country coach at Allan Hancock College. Once here, Millie immersed herself into the community, volunteering as a counselor for Planned Parenthood, becoming a fixture with the League of Women Voters, and tirelessly volunteering with the Democratic Party. For nearly 20 years, Millie worked as a Teacher’s Aide at Fairlawn elementary school. In her later life, it was a common occurrence for Millie to be hugged in public by an apparent stranger, only to discover that this was one of her now fully-grown students who warmly recalled her influence on them in their formative years.

Millie was not only the quintessential “Jewish mother” to her own children, but over the years fulfilled this role for countless others. Her home was open to a steady stream of wayward athletes from Ray’s teams. Athletes from all over the world were recruited and many lived in the Kring house. These athletes were not simply given room and board, as Millie also provided love and guidance, freely offering advice, opinions and tough love, whether solicited or not. She was counselor, confidant, and mother figure. Over the years, her continued involvement in their lives extended to their own families, deepening the roots that marked her effect on so many.

When Ray was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Millie devoted herself to his care. After he passed away in 2001, she continued to involve herself in the community, deepening her relationships with her friends, with whom she had a standing “date” every Friday for lunch, and even took on the role as both “mother” and “grandmother” to a young family in her neighborhood. She volunteered at the library, traveled with her closest friends to exotic places, fought for democratic causes, attended book clubs, took classes at Allan Hancock College, and organized annual Holiday parties where she and her friends wrote and performed politically satirical songs in some of the worst musical numbers ever recorded. The quality of the performances was never the point. The point was her continued desire to speak her mind and make a difference. As she struggled with her health in the last months of her life, she finally declared in her inimitable style “enough already”, and her peaceful passing was attended by friends and family who gathered at her bedside to celebrate her extraordinary impact on their lives.

She is survived by her children Kenny Kring (Pamela Laucks), Buddy Kring (Ellen Dale), Tim (Lisa) Kring, Rebecca (Ron) Rosen, and her grandchildren Jacob (Courtney Madowitz), Presley (Cody Snay), Malcolm (Leigh-Anne Williams), Lydia, Rex, Parry, Bry, West, Abigail, Amelia, and Ethan.

In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that a donation be made in her name to either Planned Parenthood or the Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. A memorial service is planned for early June.

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