Cover photo for Loretta Mary McGrath's Obituary
Loretta Mary McGrath Profile Photo
1962 Loretta Mary McGrath 2024

Loretta Mary McGrath

October 17, 1962 — April 24, 2024

Santa Fe

Loretta M McGrath, age 61, returned to Creator the afternoon of April 24, 2024. She is survived
by her partner Tawnya Laveta, her siblings Chris and Matt McGrath and Julie Bartol, her eldest
nephew Matthew McGrath, and niece and nephews Amber, Dakota, and Wyatt Bartol. Her
beloved ones include a large extended family and family of friends and colleagues. She was
born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and headed west in her teens, falling in love with the
Sierras, Yosemite, and eventually the Rockies when she made Boulder, Colorado her home for
22 years. 
Loretta attained her MA in Cultural Anthropology and taught courses at Naropa
University in Cognitive Studies, Environmental Leadership, Garden World and was instrumental
in developing Naropa’s undergraduate program and connecting Naropa courses and students to
the university-owned Hedgerow Farm. She co-led wilderness trips for graduate students and co-
guided a pilgrimage in Tibet, circumambulating sacred Mount Kailash.
Her passion as an educator continued when she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico 21 years ago.
She taught Sustainability Studies, Environmental Ethics, Introduction to Anthropology, Native
American Studies, and Anthropology of Food at Santa Fe Community College. Her reputation
as “the hardest teacher” at SFCC came about from her teaching toward each student’s potential
and encouraged each to break through limitations and pursue their interests and callings for a
better world. Loretta was also well known as a Honeybee and Pollinator advocate conducting
community workshops around the state on Beekeeping and Native Pollinators and encouraged
the public to eliminate pesticide use and to restore our lands with native plants. She facilitated
Bioneers’ Dreaming New Mexico Project and created educational maps and materials for a
regenerative food and farming system and for a renewable energy future. Her local food system
work unfolded as Vice President of the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Institute Board shepherding
the teamwork needed to break ground, finance and build the year-round Farmers’ Market
Pavilion to serve Northern NM farmers, food entrepreneurs and larger community.
Loretta volunteered at the International Folk Art Market since its inception and knew most of the
artists and volunteers by name. Her love of intercultural connection, artistry and expressions
developed into friendships and travel to Bali, Peru, Bolivia, Mexico, Japan, France, and Ireland.
As a talented seamstress, knitter, calligrapher, public speaker, researcher, writer, painter, and
poet, she enjoyed conversations with other artists about the creative process, sacred
symbolism, bringing inspiration into form, and cultivating beauty in everyday objects and
She had a special kinship with indigenous peoples and their beloved homelands, participated in
ceremony, shared cosmologies and stories of ongoing injustices and resilience and healing. She
spent time with the Arapahoe, Lakota, Hopi, Zuni, Taos Pueblo, Q’ero, and descendants of the
Maya and Toltec.
She was a healer, beekeeper, and entrepreneur, practicing Shiatsu for 40 years, creating Bee
Genius aromatherapy products, and developed Gardening Arts into a thriving business. Loretta
pursued her inspirations and invested time in refining new skills, like miso-making, learning
Native American flute, and studying sound healing. Her diverse interests span the shelves of
several towering bookcases and burst forth from archives of notebooks, rooms of specialized
supplies and creations in progress.
Loretta and Nature were one. At home in the mountains, she hiked, biked, and taught ski racing,
shredded the bumps and black diamond runs, and checked the snow report until the very end.
At home in the ocean, she grew up spending summers with family on “the Jersey shore” and
forever loved to ride the waves when near a coastline. Her peak ocean experience was hearing
the Gray Whales sing during a morning swim in the Pacific Ocean.
Loretta was equally bold and shy like the honeybees she kept. Loved ones shared the following
love letters and testaments to her:
“She was a pioneer! She’s been an inspiration to me. When she left home and got all those
degrees, so many degrees, it made me believe like I could do it, too. She made all us girls feel
like we could do anything, too.”
“After a year of online courses, we finally met on retreat. At lunch, she spoke at length about her
life and I was fascinated and felt so many points of connection. I felt the full heat of her
“I’m thinking of you and appreciating the ways you are so engaged in so many expressions of
beauty and healing: your potions, your Shiatsu, your writing, bee keeping, passion for travel,
your sustainability work, your incredible cooking, and how you wove so many people in a
beautiful fabric of connectivity.”
“Our friendship made me feel cared about and connected and appreciated when it is so easy to
feel alone and like an outsider in this world.”
“I have so appreciated the light and wisdom you have offered, Loretta. Thank you for sharing
that with me and so many others. I appreciate your love and grace, the time we spent together
walking the hills at Shambhala, Your smile. Your friendship. Thank you. I will hold and carry
forward what I am able of your gifts.”
I remember long conversations at the kitchen table on Rosario, honey tastings, a day of making
mole, and sitting on the porch while you made me a custom essential oil blend
“I have such fond memories of our time working together, laughing together, and the peace and
wisdom you imparted in ways you’ll never know. I will always cherish our friendship, knowing
you are a soul with whom I'm sure to travel for many lifetimes to come. I eagerly await the next
version of our friendship.”
“Lighted and magnificent, I’ve always seen you this way. Thank you for so many years of
sharing friendship, love, and wonderful adventures. You are a sister of my heart, and I treasure
the time we have walked this path together. Let’s do it again! Thank you for sharing your
beautiful and bountiful gifts with the world. Your creativity, intelligence and beauty have
enhanced our lives.”
“I'm reminded of justice, and bees, and bicycles and your smile and giant eyes. I think of your
fierce holding of values concerning the worth of volunteers and inherent worthiness of people in
“I am so thankful for your traits of freedom, adventure, dignity, intelligence, sincerity, kindness
and peace. Be proud of your accomplishments and good nature.”
“It has been a blessing to know you and I will miss your wonderful sassy tenacity and smiling
face.... but I know we will meet again.”

“You are the Great Love of my life, the template for how much and more I can love all of
humanity. You were the rare orchid waiting to be found on the windswept, ancient Burren. And
so I found you, like the native bee that I am. We have discovered one another millions of
springtimes and returned Home millions of autumns. This precious adventure continues, you
leading the way, as usual. In my dream, you follow the river of butterflies, my Love. You have
always been one of them, exquisite and free.
Loretta’s Day of Remembrance will be Saturday, June 22nd, 2024 at James McGrath’s apple
orchard in La Cieneguilla for Santa Fe celebrators. True to Loretta’s Irish heritage and the
orchard’s history of poetry readings, guests are encouraged to have a “party piece” in mind to
share. Send your contact information to receive further details. There will
also be a Bucks County, Pennsylvania Day of Remembrance for Loretta this summer, TBA.
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Loretta Mary McGrath, please visit our flower store.


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