Devoted to Family & Community
by John Watts, Rob Dunton and Dru Hartley
John and Margaret Haigh placed a high value on education, medicine and medical research. They felt unusually fortunate, and made a concerted effort to give back to their communities. During their lifetime they supported numerous healthcare organizations and educational institutions, and upon their death the Santa Barbara community – their home for over 40 years – was a major beneficiary of their generosity.
Sansum Clinic and the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara both received gifts of over $500,000 from the John S. Haigh and Margaret Neil Haigh Family Trust. These gifts were the result of gratitude for the medical care the Haighs received during the decades they lived in Santa Barbara coupled with their longstanding belief in the value of medical research. Mrs. Haigh was a two-time cancer survivor who lived to the age of 96. Though she was not treated at the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara, she and Dr. Haigh knew first-hand the importance of having quality cancer care close to home.
John Haigh met Margaret Neil on a blind date while she was a student at UCLA and he was attending Loyola University. They were married in 1938 after John completed his medical training in Chicago. As the United States became involved in World War II in 1941, Dr. Haigh volunteered for service in the U.S. Navy as a Flight Surgeon attached to the Marines. He served in Iceland and the Admiralty Islands in the South Pacific attaining the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
After the war, John returned to his family and established the largest OB/GYN practice in Pasadena across the street from the Huntington Hospital. They expanded their family and raised their two daughters, Lynn and Christine, in San Marino. Mrs. Haigh was devoted to her family and community. Feeling a strong sense of responsibility to serve her community as a volunteer, Margaret participated in a wide variety of activities, including the Pasadena Medical Auxiliary and the San Marino Guild. The results of her fundraising efforts provided funds for medical research and patient care.
Upon John’s retirement in 1969, the Haighs pursued another dream by purchasing a 100 acre ranch in Happy Canyon in the Santa Ynez Valley. “With all his years riding with the Rancheros Visitadores, Daddy always wanted to be a cowboy,” shared Chris Saunders, the Haighs’ youngest daughter. “With their move to Santa Ynez, Daddy went from doctor to gentleman farmer. While he raised Black Angus cattle and tended to the walnuttrees, Mother cared for their vegetable garden and acres of roses and zinnias.
They wanted a more quiet life.” One of Dr. Haigh’s partners from the Pasadena medical practice, Dr. Richard Houts, bought the neighboring ranch. They remained close friends for many years participating in Rancheros Vistadores together, each spring.
In 1979, the Haighs moved from their ranch in the valley “over the hill” to Montecito. From their home in Montecito their contributions and active retirement life continued to benefit the Santa Barbara community in numerous ways. Dr. Haigh maintained his longstanding involvement in Rotary International and served as a trustee on the Board of Sansum Medical Research Foundation.
Dr. and Mrs. Haigh will be warmly remembered for their generous support of the institutions and people who impacted their lives, children and communities. In Santa Barbara, in addition to Sansum Clinic and the Cancer Center, the Haighs also made bequests to Cottage Health System, the American Cancer Society (Santa Barbara), Planned Parenthood (Santa Barbara/Ventura/San Luis Obispo chapter), Marymount School of Santa Barbara and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church.