Reta Templeman dies at 85

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Reta Templeman, right, with husband Reeves Templeman in an undated photo.

Templeman was the wife of the founding publisher of The Malibu Times. She also wrote and edited the newspaper, among other tasks.

By Jonathan Friedman/Staff Writer

Reta Templeman, widow of The Malibu Times founding publisher Reeves Templeman, died on Saturday at age 85 after a brief illness. Templeman wrote for and edited the newspaper for several years. She also managed the newspaper, took care of the finances and sold advertisements. Longtime friend Ted Gillespie, whose wife, Laurel, worked for The Malibu Times, said Templeman was the backbone of the paper for many years.

Templeman was born Eunice Reta McCurdy on Sept. 8, 1918 in Springbank, Canada. She grew up in Brighton, Ontario where she graduated with a nursing degree in 1941. In 1947, Templeman married Jack Merton. The two divorced in 1960, and Templeman moved to California. She and Reeves Templeman were married on July 24, 1966.

The Templemans had no children, but their niece, Dianne Darling, said she thought of them like parents. Darling, who lives in Canada, came to visit the couple in Malibu when she was 27. She said she had planned to stay there for two weeks, but remained at the Templemans’ home for five years. Darling said Reta Templeman took care of her like she was a child, and helped her to find jobs.

“Reta was a really classy lady,” Darling said. “She was real special. She was very giving, very modest.”

Gillespie said Templeman was also good with his children. She and Reeves Templeman were their godparents. Gillespie said Templeman treated them like they were her grandchildren.

Many friends described Templeman as somebody who was always willing to help others. Gillespie said she was a generous person who would give assistance if others needed it. Lylis Hill, who was friends with Templeman for more than 20 years, said Templeman was also one to give advice, and it was good advice since she was smart.

“She had an incredible intelligence,” Hill said. “She had an incredible memory. When something came up, she was the person to consult. She had great strength. She was outstanding in many ways.”

Many described Templeman as an outgoing, fun-loving person who loved animals. She collected all types of animals from chickens, dogs and cats to a variety of others. She also loved to dress up as an elf during Christmas time, which reflected her character.

“Rita was wonderful and always up,” said Arnold G. York, publisher of The Malibu Times. “She knew how to have a good time better than anybody I ever knew.”

Gillespie said Templeman was her own person. He said she was a staunch Republican who had specific views on many things. But he said she had a heart of gold.

“Reta was one of a kind,” Gillespie said. “When they made Reta, they threw the mold away. There’s just one Reta.”

Templeman was an honorary lifetime member of Malibu Republican Women, Federated. She was also active in many other community organizations, including the Malibu Lions Club, which honored her with a Citizen of the Year Awards Dinner, the Malibu branch of the American Heart Association and the Malibu Senior Citizens Club, for which she served as president one year. The Malibu Times recognized the Templemans for their service to the community with a Dolphin Award in 1991. For many years Reta Templeman continued to visit the offices of The Malibu Times to say hello and pick up her mail.

Templeman is survived by her the Malibu family Ted and Laurel Gillespie and their children, Ben and Cooper, and 12 nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her brothers, Orac and Gordon, and sisters Pearl Campbell, Eva May Wilton and Molly Victoria Darling.

A memorial service will take place on May 8 at 11 a.m. at Malibu Presbyterian Church, which is located at 3324 Malibu Canyon Road.