Obituary: Lillian (Billie) Louise Parrish Maguire
Social justice advocate, educator, mother, and grandmother
“Lillian (Billie) Louise Parrish Maguire was an extraordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life,” her family shared.
Born December 13, 1930, she died at Mount San Antonio Gardens in Pomona on September 23. She was an impassioned advocate who dedicated her life to giving voice to the voiceless, with her dedication to equity and social justice targeted primarily toward children and women. On the issues facing children in particular her work and advocacy were driven by the central question she always posed, “Is it good for the children?” This question led her to engage in equity endeavors in healthcare, schools, and communities throughout Southern California.
A graduate of Wake Forest University and former teacher with a master’s degree in education from Bank Street College of Education in New York City, she was a founding board member of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Covina, which advocates for children in cases investigating physical or sexual abuse.
During the years that she worked with the CAC she also established a local advocacy group called Child Watch and coordinated an east county chapter that included the cities of Pomona, San Dimas, La Verne, Diamond Bar, Walnut, and Claremont, leading to the creation of a regional master plan for children. The National Children’s Alliance awarded her its Volunteer Leadership Individual Award in 2010.
Billie Maguire’s commitment and dedication to social justice work began early in her life when she met Marian Wright Edelman (founder of the Children’s Defense Fund) while at Yale with her late husband, noted educator and human rights activist, John David Maguire.
She served on the CDF’s California steering committee for many years during which she continued to address issues of poverty, child abuse and teen pregnancy. Los Angeles Times reporter Carla Rivera wrote in a March 28, 1998 article, “(Maguire) is direct, articulate, with piercing eyes that are not afraid to engage, and, in her role as children’s advocate, she is awfully persuasive.”
When her husband retired from the presidency of the Claremont Graduate University in 1998, the school’s trustees endowed a forum in her name, The Lillian Maguire Social Advocacy Forum, to embed social advocacy in the university’s life. In addition, CGU endowed the John D. and Lillian Maguire Distinguished Professor in the Humanities chair. The couple’s legacy also includes the John D. and Lillian Maguire Theater at the State University of New York College at Old Westbury, dedicated upon their departure from the college in 1981, where Mr. Maguire was president from 1970 to 1981.
An avid reader of astounding intellect, she was a gracious host for many events at the CGU president’s home in which leading intellectuals and forward thinkers of the day were free to engage in conversation and a sharing of ideas regarding the pressing issues facing society.
She married her late husband in 1953 in Smithfield, North Carolina, where her upbringing in the segregated South helped form her outlook and commitment to advocating for the oppressed.
She and John had five children. They are survived by three of those children, Catherine Merrill Maguire, Mary Elizabeth Maguire, and Anne King Turner; and four grandsons, Andrew John Turner, Bryce Maguire Campanelli, Keegan Maguire Campanelli, and Livingstone Mark Sitzman.
The immediate family will hold a private burial at a date yet to be determined.
In lieu of flowers the family suggests contributions in Billie Maguire’s honor to the Children’s Advocacy Center at kindest.com/pg_19LCqzK59X-children-s-advocacy-center, or by check to 1650 E. Old Badillo St., #C3, Covina, CA 91724.
As an integral part of the Claremont community, she will be deeply missed by her family and friends who wish for her what she wished for us all: “Go well.”