News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

News online for Encinitas, Calif.

North Coast Current

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Remembering William ‘Magpie’ Maguire

William Anthony “Magpie” Maguire, 65, a third-generation San Diegan and Encinitas icon, died New Year’s Day in his historic Encinitas Highlands home after a long illness. Maguire, also known as Tony, was an artist, photographer, collector of rare books, bee keeper, and free thinker who touched countless lives over decades of opening his home as a way station and nexus point for hundreds of free-spirited world travelers and housemates.

Maguire would become editor, then publisher, of The San Diego Door, a legendary underground newspaper, after starting his career there as a photographer in the 1960s. Assignments found him interviewing and photographing greats of the era, including Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix; giving voice to the local anti-war movement; and exposing dubious behavior, such as what would come to be called “the Yellow Cab Scandal.” Maguire gave filmmaker Cameron Crowe, a teenager at the time, his first job as the publication’s freelance music reviewer.

During that time, Maguire traveled to Taos, N.M., to interview actor Dennis Hopper, whose brother David had been a classmate. Maguire found instant rapport with the area’s art scene and later established a second home within the Pilar Mountain art community. In Taos and Encinitas, the Virgin of Guadalupe was a frequent subject of Maguire’s often-complex art installations.

Living between locales, Maguire still found time to run for Encinitas City Council in the early 1980s and transform his 1920s farm cabin into the “Bee Inn.”  The home was moved to the land in the early 1940s as a worker residence of the original farm and large orchard that preceded the development of the area. The home and Maguire’s many beehives sit among what are some of the last of the orchard’s decades-old avocado trees.

The Bee Inn has evolved as a living sculpture, with Maguire adding an eclectic mix of living spaces that he rented out, filling the house with an ever-changing community of different generations, genders, and beliefs. Maguire refused to be considered a landlord, only a housemate. Floors were transformed into mosaics, walls into galleries, and windows into doors that led onto roof-top gardens for viewing the beauty of the grounds, night sky, or ocean far beyond. His home welcomed all, but was never a “crash pad”; He expected everyone to contribute, as able.

Like his namesake the magpie, Maguire was a meticulous collector, rescuing objects to be given new life as functional art. The assortment would be neatly categorized in his workshop or on the grounds to await his next project: brown, green, and blue wine bottles to be placed like bricks to fill a window opening or scrap metal to be hammered into spiritual themes to adorn the property’s abundant organic gardens.

Maguire — the “King of Compost” to friends — encouraged others to live a self-sustaining, green lifestyle. He led by example, cultivating the soil with the same care as he did friends. Decades of spreading garden paths with food scraps and covering them in burlap to be trampled underfoot have his property sitting several inches higher then those that surround it.

Maguire considered Equinox, the Solstice, and Valentine’s Day “high holidays” and each would usher to the Bee Inn an unpredictable and growing stream of long-standing friends, new acquaintances, former and current housemates, and their friends. An annual “Love Party” for Valentine’s Day was added in 1984, the day of his first date with Cuchama, his mate of 24 years. The couple wed May 19, 2008, at the Bee Inn under the full moon, a day revered as the celebration of the Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and death.

Severely dyslexic, Maguire formed the D-Group, an advocacy organization for which he was an outspoken crusader on the topic of alternate learning styles. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, he attended computer trade shows and conventions to influence industry leaders and felt heard when Steve Jobs once replied to an e-mail he sent explaining the importance of considering the learning disabled in interface design.

Maguire, a Buddhist, had been raised Catholic and recently had discovered his Jewish heritage when he learned that his maternal grandparents had only pretended to be Lutheran after escaping persecution in Germany and settling in Del Mar in the late 1800s, where they employed “dry” farming methods to grow lima beans and other crops in Carmel Valley.

A graduate of Point Loma High School, he was the only son of the late Minnie Elizabeth (Nieman) and Anthony Joseph Maguire. Maguire’s mother was one of the first female attorneys in San Diego. His father headed the City of San Diego Police Department’s Homicide Division, not long after it was first established.

Besides his wife, Maguire is survived by a sister, Pat Klein, of San Diego; a son, Anthony; a daughter-in-law, Shelly; and their son, Ryder, all of Taos; a former daughter-in-law, Paige Strom; her son, Harken; and Paige’s daughter, Pearl, and son, Stellen, whom he considered his “adopted” grandchildren, all of Chinle, Ariz.

Mary Cate O’Malley is a community contributor to the North Coast Current

 

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Remembering William ‘Magpie’ Maguire