“Maggie” Entrekin Roizen, 68
Our beloved Maggie (born Karen Marie Keenan) was born at the Stanford University Hospital in San Francisco on November 22, 1945. Her father, Hugh Keenan, was at the time a U.S. Army captain; mother, Ann (Sperry) Keenan, was a homemaker who sometimes took assignments as a fashion model. Maggie was a third generation San Franciscan. As an adult, she spoke of fond memories of visiting her grandmother — her “Nonna” — and her aunt, “Billy,” at their apartment building high up on California Avenue. From it, she recalled, she would watch ships slowly making their way on San Francisco Bay or she could be taken down to Chinatown and Old St. Mary’s Cathedral and then return via cable car to Nonna’s up the hill. Maggie grew up in Palo Alto and attended parochial elementary school there. She had a very rich store of happy memories of childhood in Palo Alto, too. She recalled enthusiastically participating in all the activities Palo Alto offered children in the 1950s, including at its parks, swimming pool, library, sports programs, and parades in which kids could display their decorated bikes, and, of course, play with kids around the neighborhood. She prided herself on being something of a tomboy and she belonged to a neighborhood club called the “Keen-tons,” named for club founders, herself and a boy named Billy Tonkin. Beyond eighth grade, she attended Jordan Junior High and then Palo Alto High School, graduating in 1963.
Soon after graduation, Maggie left Palo Alto’s middle-class environs for the more bohemian culture of Berkeley. She wanted to become a painter and fine artist. Maggie was never happier than when she was standing in front of an easel, her painting smock spattered with color, the aroma of turpentine in the air, and folk-rock blaring from her stereo. She developed her painting style and skills at a number of institutions – the California College of Arts and Crafts and Mills College in Oakland, and the San Francisco Art Institute. To pay the bills, she worked as a nursery school teacher in Berkeley. There she met and fell in love with the single father of one of her charges. She married Charles Entrekin in January, 1969, at the courthouse in Carson City, Nevada, now also becoming a loving mother for young Demian, whom she formally adopted. A second son, Caleb, her beloved “Bugso,” was born in 1971. Maggie and her young family moved to Missoula in the mid-1970s, when Charles enrolled in the graduate creative writing program at the University of Montana. There they made new friends as Charles honed his writing skills and earned his M.F.A. On returning to Berkeley, Maggie and Charles bought a Victorian on Virginia Street near the Totland Playground. Always a neighborhood person, Maggie had many happy recollections of friends she made there and of her young boys playing and forming bonds with the other kids on the block. Through the 1970s and to the mid-1980s, Charles and Maggie faithfully co-hosted, in their home, meetings of a group called the Berkeley Poets Cooperative, of which Charles was the informal leader. Maggie’s art work often appeared in the pages of the group’s poetry magazine. A telling photograph in an August, 1976 feature article on the Co-op in the New York Times Magazine shows a small circle of members paying serious attention to a reading, with Maggie sitting on the floor resting against Charles’s knee.
When Maggie and Charles separated in the mid-1980s, Maggie took in house-sharers Summer Brenner and her children at her home on Hearst Avenue in Berkeley. When Maggie learned that the person from whom she and Charles had purchased the Hearst house was looking for a place to live, she telephoned him, offering the rental of yet another of the house’s rooms. Ron Roizen at first declined, saying taking a room in a house shared with a woman as good looking as she would be too great a distraction. But before long this exchange led to a first date. Their relationship flowered. Maggie gave birth to their beloved daughter, Alexis – soon nicknamed “Rudi” — in November, 1986, and Maggie and Ron were formally married, at Lake Tahoe, in November, 1987, after her divorce from Charles became final. At the time, Maggie continued painting and taught at the Green Door nursery school in Berkeley. Ron worked at an off-campus research unit, lectured on campus, and worked toward completing a doctorate in sociology. To buttress their income, the upstairs at Hearst was converted into a separate apartment. Maggie worked hard to blend her new family, bringing together Ron’s children from his first marriage with her two boys. The kids sometimes referred to themselves as “the Brady bunch.” The Hearst house became, and has remained, a symbolic point-of-origin for the combined Entrekin-Roizen family. In 1989, Maggie and Ron, with two-and-a-half year old “Rudi,” took a three-week vacation in Switzerland and France. They were happy to get home.
Ron completed his doctorate in 1991, but his research career thereafter faltered. By 1997, he proposed to Maggie that they find a pretty, but less expensive, area of the country to live — one where he could try earning a living by publishing on the new World Wide Web, which was just then beginning the communications revolution it would generate. A very reluctant Maggie agreed, but only on condition that they move to Missoula, where Maggie had many good memories of living with Charles in the 1970s. They soon flew to Spokane, rented a car, and drove over I-90 to Missoula. Yet, and for a number of reasons, the Missoula they visited that day didn’t quite fit their needs. Driving back toward Spokane the next day, a little dejectedly, they stopped for breakfast at Sweet’s Café in Wallace, Idaho. Both were charmed by the town’s look. And so, once a tenant was found for the Hearst house’s bottom flat, they departed — with both their old pick-up truck and a U-Haul trailer packed to the gills — for the new home they’d rented in Wallace. They arrived November 1st, 1997, to start a new life in this lovely North Idaho hamlet.
Maggie enjoyed furnishing and decorating her new Wallace home on the first block of Cedar Street. She also soon commenced a series of new paintings inspired by historical photos of Wallace’s “soiled doves” of a bygone era. The year 2000 was a pivotal one. Maggie endured an encounter with breast cancer, undergoing a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments. Meantime, circumstances demanded that the Berkeley house be sold. During a harrowing car trip back down to Berkeley, the goal of which was to fix-up and prepare the house for sale – with Maggie bald from the chemo – they confronted stern resistance from the lower flat’s renters, who did not wish to move out. The story of how this conflict was ultimately resolved has been told and retold many times since. Some have thought it would make a good movie. The sale’s proceeds allowed Maggie to fulfill a dream she’d had – namely, buying the big white house at the corner of Cedar and Third in Wallace. An elegant and stately mansion by Berkeley standards, the home was within their price range in the Silver Valley’s real estate market. Maggie, who would soon be on the road to recovery, once again enjoyed arranging the house to her liking, hanging an armada of photographs and paintings on the new home’s generous wall space. By 2005, however, the big white house had become too burdensome. With Alexis’s graduation from Wallace High School in 2004 and her subsequent departure for the University of Idaho, plus the growing realization that the old house was too expensive for them to maintain adequately, Maggie and Ron, put the beautiful residence up for sale. They eventually bought and moved back into the same house they’d originally rented in Wallace in 1997, a block away on Cedar Street. The house’s sale provided funds for a much needed new (used) car and allowed Maggie to buy a car for Alexis as well, on the same day at the same dealership in Coeur d’Alene. Being able to give Alexis an also-much-needed car was a source of no little satisfaction for Maggie.
Over the course of her almost 17 years in Wallace, Maggie pursued a number of art-related endeavors. She continued painting, she provided art teaching sessions at neighbor Sue Fritz’s elementary school, she taught small groups of young preschoolers in her home, and she served as the art teacher at Wallace High School much of one school year when the regular teacher left unexpectedly. The high school principal simply knocked at her door one day and asked if she would take the job! While it published, Maggie was a frequent contributor of art for the cover of The Voice, the Silver Valley’s alternative paper. Maggie greatly enjoyed “fixing” for people. One expression of this came in the form of all the wonderful holiday feasts and decorations she composed. Her Thanksgiving meal was always worth waiting for, especially for the way she prepared her potatoes, borrowing an old recipe from her mother. Another expression was her enjoyment of hosting visits from old friends or family — most notably, perhaps, Charles Wohl’s nearly annual summer visit to execute his long walk to Avery. In recent years, she’s also enjoyed get-togethers with the small group of Wallace women calling themselves the Ya-Ya Sisters. Neighbors Linda and Jim See, John Fritz, Larry Passantino, and others became, over the years, dear friends for her. And she loved the impromptu summertime porch gatherings with them that occasionally happened, often lubricated with wine, beer, Fritz’s margaritas, and something to nibble. Maggie made friends she cherished everywhere she went – for instance, at local markets, at the clinics where she was treated, and even at Walmart. Her easy manner, openness and candor, and her genuine love of people made her friend to all. “Meistie,” the household’s little black dog, was deeply devoted to Maggie.
Maggie died, surrounded by adult children Demian, Caleb, and Alexis, at Kootenai Medical Center on October 8, 2014, after a second, more-than-year-long battle with cancer and post-operative complications.
Maggie is survived by her husband and lifemate of 29 years, Ron Roizen, by daughter Alexis Roizen, sons Demian Entrekin, and spouse Beth; Caleb Entrekin, and spouse Jessamine; and by Ron’s adult children, Sebastian Rupley, and spouse Amy; Zoe Roizen, and spouse Carl; Ezra Roizen, and spouse Bambi; and their families, all residing in the Bay Area. It bears noting that Maggie loved her grandkids and the grandparent role, at which she shined – and hence often felt the pang of separation from them save a few short visits. She’s survived by longtime close friend, Wanda Ultan; Amy Roizen, Ezra’s ex-spouse; Charles Entrekin, her ex-spouse, and his spouse, Gail; Charles Wohl, Andrea Mitchell and Geoffrey Hunt of Berkeley. She’s also survived by sister, Cathy, and her husband, John Pastenieks, and family, in Clovis, California. She will be missed as well by Ron’s brother, Peter Roizen, and spouse Sonja; and Ron’s sister, Heidi Roizen, and their respective families. Shared dinner gatherings with good friends Ivan Linscott and Margo Gill-Linscott, of Burke, will never be the same without Maggie. Space does not permit listing all the names that also rightfully belong here, whom she loved and whom she was loved by. She was preceded in death by her parents and by her brother, Hugh Keenan.
Donations on her behalf are welcome at the Maggie Entrekin Roizen memorial registry, at justgive.org.
She will be sorely missed.