St. Mark's preschool head to retire

Mary Hornbuckle has gone by lots of titles over the years: Costa Mesa mayor, city councilwoman, school director, community college district trustee.

Next summer, she'll have a new one: retired.

Hornbuckle will serve her last day as director for St. Mark Community Preschool on June 30, 2012. She has served as director of the Newport Beach since 1988 and taught there for a decade before that.

"I don't know what I'm going to do when the new school year begins," the 68-year-old said. "I've been doing this for 24 years and the timing just seemed right.

"We have a wonderful staff. The school is running well. We moved into a new location about five years ago and everything seems to be settled here, so it's a good time to leave and let someone step into a well-running school."

She added:"Who wouldn't want a job where you're greeted by 80 smiling faces every day? I love this place. It's so rewarding to work with young children. You see such change, such growth in just the course of a year."

The grandmother of four said she plans on traveling with her husband, but also plans on running for reelection for her Coast Community College District (CCCD) seat in November. She said she will stay active in St. Mark Presbyterian Church's choir as well.

In other words, she may be retiring, but she's not retiring from being Mary Hornbuckle.

Her two daughters went through St. Mark's preschool, and her four grandchildren — two in Costa Mesa and two in Lake Forest — are between 10 and 15 years old.

"So there's plenty of activities to go to," Hornbuckle said.

"My mom has always been able to fill her time in her life," said Amy Simko, Hornbuckle's youngest daughter who works at St. Mark's with her. "If anything, if elections go her way, she'll stay in the CCCD board. I think she'll be able to fill it. She's been invested in so many things in Costa Mesa."

Hornbuckle served on the City Council for 12 years and for two years as mayor. In April 2005, she was appointed to the CCCD board. Though there were a dozen applicants for the seat, none had the references Hornbuckle had.

According to the Daily Pilot archives, Hornbuckle submitted 13 letters of recommendation, including some from state senators, members of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce and other community representatives.

Archives show that even during politically heated times, Hornbuckle thought of the community before herself.

"Sometimes you have to put your own political philosophy aside for the good of the broader community," Hornbuckle told the Pilot in 2003 when discussing a City Council appointment in 1991.

Hornbuckle and her husband are considering a trip to Alaska, where they want to retrace her older brother's diary entries that tell of how he helped build sections of the Alaska Railroad between Anchorage and the mountain range containing Denali (Mt. McKinley).

The pair also want to take a drive across the country in the winter to see the leaves change color in the Midwest.

While her husband golfs, she'll go bird-watching. There's also a stack of unread books and photos that need scrapbooking, Hornbuckle said.

"I know that for her it's the right time in her eyes to retire, and I think it is," Simko said. "My dad retired too and has been for a few years. I think it'll be nice for them to spend some time together."

Twitter: @JosephSerna

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