Original Malibu resident Rhoda-May Adamson Dallas dies

Rhoda-May Adamson Dallas, pictured here with her great-grandchildren Mico Miller and Ezra Miller, in the Adamson House in Jan. 2007, died Oct. 14 at the age of 94.

She was the granddaughter of early Malibu pioneers, Frederick Hastings and May Knight Rindge.

By Knowles Adkisson / The Malibu Times

Rhoda-May Adamson Dallas, a scion of Malibu’s founding family, died in her sleep Friday last week at her home in Studio City. She was 94.

Born in Santa Monica on Feb. 14, 1917 to Merritt and Rhoda Agatha Rindge Adamson, Dallas’ life spanned the entirety of Malibu’s modern existence. Dallas’ grandparents, Frederick Hastings Rindge and May Knight Rindge, were the last owners of Malibu Rancho before it opened to the public in 1925, followed by the Roosevelt Highway (now Pacific Coast Highway) three years later.

Dallas spent her childhood and early youth in the family’s homes at Muirfield Road and 4th Street in Los Angeles, the Hancock Park area and in Malibu. The family’s iconic Malibu home located next to Surfrider Beach is operated today by the state of California as the Malibu Lagoon Museum, a preserved relic of a vanished Malibu lifestyle. Among the displays at the museum are brightly colored Mediterranean-style tiles produced by Malibu Potteries, the company founded by her grandmother May Rindge in 1926.

The eldest of three children, Dallas’ surviving family said she loved to explore the hills and trails of early Malibu with her sister, Sylvia, and younger brother, Merritt, Jr., and go swimming and boating in the ocean located just outside their back door.

She attended the female-only Marlborough School and later Santa Barbara College, where she met her husband of 63 years, Ian Richard Dallas. The couple had two children, Leilani Jane Dallas Miller and Huntley Nevill Dallas.

Rhoda-May Adamson Dallas worked at the family’s dairy, Adohr Farms, whose name was taken by spelling Rhoda backward. After their mother died, Dallas and her siblings became partners in the family companies left to them by Rhoda Agatha Rindge Adamson and developed multiple ventures across Southern California.

More than 40 years after Dallas’ grandmother, May Rindge, first opened Malibu to the public, the family again made an important decision that would influence the future of this rural city by the sea.

In 1968, Dallas and her siblings donated 138 acres to Pepperdine University, enabling a dying college in inner city Los Angeles to reincarnate itself into an elite liberal arts university in Malibu, often designated as the most beautiful college campus in the United States.

The affiliation with Pepperdine was to be a source of pride for Dallas the rest of her life.

But Dallas regarded as her greatest achievement her seven grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, said her granddaughter, Deborah Miller.

“She loved to spend time with us,” Miller said. “The thing that stands out is what a wonderful lady she was. Everybody who has ever met her has said how much she brightened their lives.”

For Dallas’ daughter, Jane Miller, her mother’s life was defined by her commitment to loved ones. In 2007, Dallas celebrated her 90th birthday surrounded by more than 70 of her family and friends.

“The love and laughter at her birthday party, shared by all, was a testimony to the life she led,” Jan Miller said.

Dallas liked to say she had the best childhood and the best life surrounded by family and friends who loved her and laughed with her.

Throughout her life, she enjoyed visiting far-flung family: her daughter and son-in-law, Jane and Jerome, and all her grandchildren in Aurora, Ill., and her son Hunt, his wife Debbie and her two children Allison and Bart in Colorado.