3207 La Costa Avenue: Farewell Emilie


For 17 years we had a lovely next door neighbor at 3207 La Costa Avenue, Emilie Cuthbert. Our La Costa neighborhood lost Emilie to cancer in August, 2017–and so many mourned our collective loss.

3207 La Costa AvenueShe loved her La Costa home at 3207 La Costa Avenue in Carlsbad, CA and had moved here in 2000 from La Jolla after her husband’s death. An interior designer and collector of fine things, Emilie immediately took to repainting, re-roofing and landscaping her newly-acquired home. Most notable from the street was her hedge of white roses. We became good friends over the years, with Emilie sharing flowers, figs and seeds. I, in turn, helped with some minor repairs, brought over food and ran some errands as her mobility declined.

I miss the short hike to 3207 La Costa Avenue, even though it was just next door. I loved the gated arbor, and the various pugs she had over the years. My favorite was Shadow, who loved to play with Monroe. Emilie had a great sense of humor and we shared lots of laughter and battled the City of Carlsbad together over their red-striping of our curbs. I invited her to Next Door, where her contributions were valued by all. She became a regular on the site and others stepped in to help her when she became confined to a wheelchair.

After living in this La Costa home for about 8 years, she consulted me about turning the secondary side bedrooms, which offered a separate entrance, into an apartment she could rent in order to supplement her retirement income. Though it had no kitchen, it was a pleasant setup that one of my son’s female friends was happy to rent. She was working and going to college and loved living with Emilie and her gardens. She was also able to occasionally assist Emilie with some of her tasks.

None of us knows our expiration date, and in 2016 Emilie confided to me that she was considering taking out a reverse mortgage to insure she would have income in the years ahead. She agonized over that decision and finally did so the following year. In 2015, Emilie opened an Etsy account, and started selling some of her many, many antiques. She bragged that she had made enough to pay her property taxes that year! The wheelchair never stopped her entrepreneurial spirit–until cancer compounded her disability.

Earlier this year, a group moved in on behalf of the estate to sell Emilie’s many remaining antiques and collectibles. I walked through the home with tears in my eyes. Her carefully assembled life was being disassembled and sold off without ceremony. I couldn’t help but wonder if Emilie could not have done something similar, a few years earlier, to help make her life a little less worrisome.

The now-vacant La Costa home at 3207 La Costa Avenue will surely be sold soon–and I can only hope that someone as smart, kind and fun-loving as Emilie Cuthbert becomes our neighbor!

by Roberta Murphy