Friends, co-workers remember Tracy VanCura 

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A memorial is placed at Marmalade Cafe in Malibu honoring Tracy Vancura who died on Malibu Canyon on March 3. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

A cheerful presence in Malibu for 40 years, VanCura worked at many popular restaurants over the years 

By Barbara Burke

Special to The Malibu Times

“Tracy and I worked together for almost 20 years,” Luis Loza, a waiter in Malibu at Ollo Restaurant tearfully said. “We worked at Coogie’s Beach Cafe together and Tracy was always very kind to everyone — not just toward our guests, but also toward our co-workers.”

Loza and many other restaurant workers and restaurant patrons in Malibu are grieving the sudden, tragic loss of Tracy VanCura, 63, of Camarillo. VanCura died at the scene of a one-vehicle accident on April 3 after she was ejected from her Toyota Scion, which tumbled about 150 feet down an embankment on a steep, winding section of Malibu Canyon Road near Pacific Coast Highway, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner.

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A memorial is placed at Marmalade Cafe in Malibu honoring Tracy Vancura who died on Malibu Canyon on March 3. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

One driver who stopped at the accident scene stated that he was driving through the canyon at approximately 5:30 p.m. when he “saw some bystanders waving their hands and asking for help and shouting, ‘The car went down!’”  

William M. Bema said he and those bystanders climbed down the steep canyon wall.

“We rushed down the hill and as we got closer, we saw big tree branches were folded over the car and we saw a body lying there,” Bema said. 

As the word spread around Malibu, loyal Marmalade Cafe customers who were shocked by the devastating news brought condolence cards that were added to a small memorial area honoring VanCura at the front of the restaurant on Cross Creek Road.

“Tracy was a beloved member of the Marmalade Cafe family for over 13 years,” said Lindsay Arnold, director of operations for the restaurant. “We are all devastated by this loss. Tracy was adored by her colleagues and guests. Tracy was also a joy to the community and had a special way to make everyone who came into the restaurant feel welcomed and valued. We will miss her warmth, dedication, and most of all, her sweet, gentle spirit. Our condolences go out to her family and friends as they mourn this terrible loss.”

Loza elaborated about how much VanCura meant to him and others in the restaurant community in Malibu. 

“She was always extremely hard-working. I don’t recall her ever taking a vacation!” He said.  “Moreover, Tracy was always friendly and she always did kind things, such as bringing doughnuts to our kitchen staff each week.”

Colleen Smith, VanCura’s co-worker at Marmalade, also emphasized how important VanCura was to Malibu locals and workers.

“Tracy has been working in the community for 40 years, starting with Sand Castle and then Coogie’s and then Marmalade Cafe,” Smith said. “She and I worked together for 16 years, and we have been friends for 28 years. 

Tracy loved her son, Charles, and her cats and dogs. She also had a heart for cars and racing, and she especially enjoyed watching her son drag boat racing.”

VanCura is survived by her son, Charles MacLardie Jr., and his father, VanCura’s ex-husband and friend, Charles MacLardie Sr.

“We rekindled our love a few years ago,” Charles Sr. shared. “We will miss her terribly — it was just we three musketeers, Tracy, Charles, and I, and we took care of one another — Tracy was the one who kept us solid. Please tell people reading your article to keep Tracy in their thoughts.”

A memorial will be held in the near future at the convenience of family and friends, he added. 

Smith summed up the sentiments of those who loved VanCura: “The sparkle of her eyes, the brightness of her smile, and the goodness of her soul will always stay in our hearts.”