Obituary of Maya Lacktman
Maya Lacktman, 100 years old, passed away in Santa Barbara at Mission Park Health Center on March 11, 2023. She was born in Riga, Latvia on January 24, 1923. Her mother, Wanda Beckman was of Polish descent and her father, Eric Siemers, was from Germany. Her family emigrated to Canada when she was nine, and shortly after moved to the United States where she eventually became a naturalized citizen.
She had two younger brothers, Vic and Pete, who pre-deceased her. She grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and married right out of high school. She and her first husband, Robert Cecil Hough, had five children, Robert, Geoffrey, Patrick, David, and Victoria. Maya also obtained a Bachelor of Arts and a teaching credential and taught and tutored children throughout her life. She was active in her community as President of the PTA and President of the Gardening Club in Kalamazoo while her children were young. Later, Maya and Robert divorced, and she went on to marry twice more. She retained the name of her second husband, Michael Lacktman, who was a university professor. Maya loved adventure and she and Michael traveled the world, living in Copenhagen, Denmark for a year, and in Chile during the Allende Revolution. They also visited Canada, Mexico, France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Greece, Spain, Yugoslavia and Holland.
Maya was a true artist and always found an outlet for her creative energy. Painting, weaving, ceramics, jewelry design, writing, sewing, and costume design were among her many talents. She wrote several books that she sought to have published, including a play, a screenplay, several children’s books, as well as a novel based on the story of her family’s escape from Russia during the Russian Revolution. She always found ways to share her talents. She volunteered at her children’s schools to design sets and costumes for their local productions in Kalamazoo and was a volunteer at Santa Barbara City College for several years, assisting with painting sets for the theater department. Maya always had a grand vision and found creative ways of bringing it to life.
In her later life, Maya spent many years living in Lompoc, CA with her daughter, Victoria Hough, and helped to raise her granddaughter, Bridget Hough, whom she taught to read, write, and play the piano. Her days were filled with gardening, cooking, reading and family life. In time, Maya’s imagination and artistic talents found a new outlet in creating “Barbie City,” an expansive doll-size world occupying the entirety of the family’s two-car garage. Despite the impressive size of this make-believe world, Maya’s eye for detail made it a marvel in every way. She crafted custom-made wooden buildings, outdoor settings, and cleverly designed furniture. With her keen eye for fashion and design, she also made thousands of Barbie-sized clothing items including hats, accessories, and hundreds of luxury gowns.
Maya’s “Barbie City” was enthusiastically enjoyed by her granddaughter, Bridget, and her close friend, Ambika Badarayan, whom Maya considered a chosen granddaughter. Maya instilled in Bridget and Ambika the importance of doing for others and a love for the creative arts. She also shared her knack for big dreams and inspired them to strive for greatness. She was intensely proud of Bridget who developed her musical talents into many impressive performances and a doctorate in music from UCSB while establishing a successful career in higher education.
Maya was fortunate to have an extended family of friends in Lompoc, Santa Maria, and Santa Barbara. She enjoyed social gatherings and had a fierce sense of competition when it came to game nights. “P.J.” Pastor Jim Schrotel of the Unity Church in Santa Maria visited every Sunday for one of her wonderful, home-cooked meals and a game of cards. Leela and Moksha Badarayan (Ambika’s mother and sister) were dear and loyal friends and Maya’s regular Parcheesi companions. Bill Myshrall, a friend from the Unity Church, regularly visited and enjoyed lively debates with Maya on any number of topics about life and living. She also enjoyed holidays and family get-togethers with Hans Balke, Bridget’s father, and Jan Jackson for many years. Maya was charismatic and highly intelligent, which made her a fascinating friend and a lot of fun!
In addition to her friends and family, Maya’s life was populated with many beloved pets. She had a real soft spot for animals and was known to adopt stray cats and dogs and shower them with love. She got on famously with her all-white cat, Forrest, who was quite a character and gave Maya many years of entertainment and friendship. Maya also loved feeding the birds in her garden and enjoyed visits from the dramatically large and vocal ravens.
Maya had bountiful energy and was always ready to try something new. She loved attending concerts, operas, and parties, and she had an eye for the finer things in life. She took up martial arts in her seventies and was very active well into her 90s. She requested to go golfing with her friend, Lee Tomlinson, for her 96th and 97th birthdays and even joined in at the Oak Park Zumba class from her wheelchair when she was 99.
Her daughter, Victoria, took great care of Maya in her later years, tending to her every need and making many sacrifices to do so. Ultimately, Maya spent her last two years at Mission Park Health Center where she was lovingly cared for by the amazing staff there. Maya quickly became a favorite at Mission Park. She was known for needing her morning cup of coffee to get the day started right and wearing stylish hats with flowers, even up to her 100th birthday.
Many who knew Maya would say that she was a complex woman – not always easy to get along with but an unforgettable personality. She was very much her own person and lived life her way. She had an incredible life force and zest for living. She challenged those around her to think outside of the box and taught many important life lessons through her own struggles. She will be remembered as a one-of-a-kind woman, whose long and full life was anything but ordinary. She lived with intensity, great style, a flair for the dramatic, and a quick sense of humor right up until the end.
One of the last things Maya shared with her granddaughter, Bridget, was how she wanted to be in the kitchen again washing dishes so that she could look out the kitchen window and watch her children play. She loved all of her children whom she described as beautiful and smart.
Maya is survived by her five children, and five grandchildren: Clay Hough, Jordan Hough, Robert Cory Hough, Lisa Hough Neumann, Bridget Hough, and her sixth chosen granddaughter, Ambika Badarayan Schoeffler.
A service will be held at the Santa Barbara Cemetery (901 Channel Drive) on Friday, March 31, 2023 at 1:15pm.
For those who would like to do a good deed in Maya’s memory, we encourage you to consider a donation in her honor to the Humane Society or The Rescue Train.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Maya Lacktman, please visit Tribute Store