Helen Liacouras Lambros, surrounded by love, passed away peacefully. She led an incredibly full life of nearly 98 years. She was born to Greek immigrants, James and Stella Lagakos Liacouras, on Aug. 15, 1923 in Philadelphia, PA. Helen was forever rooted by the ideals instilled by her parents and a robust family of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Her upbringing in the Philadelphia Greek community had an indelible impact on her life. From an early age, she was drawn to music, dance, education and the church, all aided by a thirst to tackle whatever the world had to offer. Many of her cousins were musical and got together frequently to play. She recounts these memories as among the happiest of her life. “We entertained everyone,” she would say, referring to how music brought her family and community close together. Helen embraced each day with a spirit and vigor like nobody else. She had a larger-than-life personality and seemingly infinite energy, creativity and resolve to make projects, productions and programs succeed. Following graduation from Philadelphia public schools, Helen attended Beaver College, now known as Arcadia University in Glenside, PA. She regularly credited her parents for their courage in allowing her to attend school away from home, which was unusual for a Greek American girl at the time.
Our beautiful 96-year young mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt and dear friend passed away on Sunday, June 6th at her daughter’s home in Pasadena, CA. She was surrounded by family as she gracefully exhaled on earth and inhaled in heaven, joining her cherished husband Ben and family and dear friends who rejoiced to welcome her. Born into one of the original Los Angeles ranching families, Jeanne was raised in Hollywood, graduating from Hollywood High School. From an early age as best friend of child actress Jane Withers, Jeanne was immersed in the film industry and prominently featured in entertainment and publicity photos and news articles. That friendship endured and enriched her life through the years. Childhood sweethearts in Hollywood, Jeanne married Ben in 1947 at the Stanford University Chapel, recalling the local news headline: “Ten years of friendship ends in marriage.” Their first child Nancy was born in the Stanford Hospital, and they continued their lifelong preference for Stanford sports, especially when their twin granddaughters were co-captains of Stanford Soccer, despite their 3 children holding USC degrees!
Lawrence “Larry” Aristide Del Santo, beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, went home to God on June 11, 2021 at the age of 87. Larry was born in 1934 in Ross, California to Marie and Aristide Del Santo, later moving to San Mateo where he was raised with his cherished sister, Mary Lou (Brignolo) Harris. He attended Serra High School and the University of San Francisco (USF), graduating with a B.S. in Marketing. Following graduation, he fulfilled his ROTC responsibilities, moving to Germany to serve as an officer in the Army. He lived in Stuttgart for two years, where the first of his 12 children was born. Larry was considered a titan in the supermarket industry having led both Vons Companies, Inc. and Lucky Stores. He began his career in 1957 for the Vons Grocery Company progressing to President and CEO. In 1975, Larry joined Household International, the parent company of Vons, and was promoted to Executive Vice President. In 1984, he left Household to ultimately assume the title of CEO and member of the Board of Lucky Stores. In 1993 he returned to where he began his career, Vons, as Chairman and CEO, retiring in 1997. Early on in his life, Larry showed his exceptional ability to lead people. From the football team in high school and college to his early days at Vons, Larry knew every person on his team and cared about the details of their lives. People looked forward to his quick wit and humor to brighten the day. Larry focused on customer service and care for employees. He introduced countless innovative customer service programs and leading-edge marketing campaigns. Companies flourished under his leadership.
Our precious and beloved Susan Giokaris Patzakis fell asleep in the Lord on July 9, 2021 at the age of 79 after a long battle with a debilitating disease. Susan was a rare soul who was universally loved by all. She devoted her life to her family, including her loving husband of over 59 years, Dr. Michael J. Patzakis, her four children, Michele, Theresa, John and Peter, and twelve grandchildren. Her husband Michael, the love of her life, endlessly adored, cared for and supported her, especially throughout her illness, when he was always at her side. Originally from Lima, Ohio, and a 50-year resident of San Marino, California, Susan was the fourth of five children born to Greek immigrant parents Peter (Petros) John Giokaris and Theresa (Athanasia) Kanatas Giokaris. Susan was baptized Stamatia in Greek after her maternal great-grandmother. After graduating from Lima Senior High School, she went on to attend Ohio State University, from which she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing, and where she met and married Michael, who was attending medical school. Following graduation, Michael’s acceptance into LA County-USC Medical Center internship and orthopedic residency programs precipitated a move out West. Susan passed her nursing licensing exam and worked on a medical-surgery ward at the LA County-USC Hospital until motherhood beckoned her full attention.
Beloved father and grandfather, Dick, passed away from natural causes on July 2nd at age of 93. Dick was born in Los Angeles to Wes and Betty Marsh. He grew up in San Marino where he attended South Pasadena High School. After high school, he graduated from UCLA and then went on to earn a Juris Doctorate at USC Law School. Upon graduation, he served in the United States Air Force as a Judge Advocate Officer. He then returned to Los Angeles, where he began a long legal career from which he retired in 2008. He spent the majority of his career as a partner in the law firm of Knapp, Marsh, Jones, and Doran. He was General Counsel for the Los Angeles County Sanitation District from 1968 to 2008. He was a lifelong member of the Jonathan Club, where he regularly attended Toastmasters, Breakfast Club, and club events. He thoroughly enjoyed Sunday brunch with his family. Dick was an avid traveler, opera enthusiast, reader, UCLA football fan, and dog lover. In fact, he never met a dog that he did not like. Dick is survived by his son David, daughter Diane (George), granddaughters Katherine and Megan, and his former spouse Carolyn. Family remembrance will be held in the future.
Buoyed by the solid support of Measure E in the June 29 special election, the San Marino Unified School District board on Wednesday night was expected to take the first step toward finding a new superintendent to replace Jeff Wilson, who took a job elsewhere.
The board was to meet in a special session with Joel Shawn of USC’s Rossier School of Education, ask questions and gain insight into the process of “selecting the best path forward to identify, select and retain the next superintendent to lead the district,” according to board President Shelley Ryan. The meeting was due to begin after the Tribune’s press deadline.
They didn’t have a prom, and their graduation ceremony, though certainly well-intentioned, consisted of a short car ride up West Drive and a couple of staged photos. But last Friday night, San Marino High School’s class of 2020 received one indisputable jewel in its comparatively empty crown — its long-awaited Grad Night. Retaining its original theme of “Finding Nemo” — though the words “Swimming Home” were added to the title — the event was marketed as a combination Grad Night/one-year reunion. The result was deemed by revelers to be an unqualified success, and anyone would seemingly have been hard-pressed to tell the difference between the event Friday and what was slated to take place on May 29, 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic put it on hold. Kurtis Tsai returned home for the event and might be the first SMHS grad to have spent an entire year in the U.S. Army before attending his Grad Night. “As a former member of the San Marino Tsunami swim team, we always got a chance to peek at the Grad Night construction after swim practice,” said Tsai, who is studying life science at West Point. “I always looked forward to seeing the different themes and designs each year. This year did not disappoint. Looking around at the painted sets, it was apparent so much thought and detail was put into this Grad Night by our parent volunteers.” Tsai said the event offered him the opportunity to catch up with former classmates and the faculty members who volunteered.
Don’t be surprised if San Marino’s sky seems a bit more crowded for a while: Over the next two weeks, Southern California Edison will conduct aerial inspections that involve the use of drones, helicopters or both. Such aircraft help SCE inspect areas that are hard to reach or must be viewed from a difficult angle, according to the utility. “The focus of these operations is and always will be our own electrical assets, structures and [rights of way] that support our assets,” an SCE statement said. “These inspections are just one part of our broader wildfire prevention and mitigation program focusing on keeping our communities safe. The amount of time it takes to conduct aerial inspections varies.” Areas targeted for inspection include the intersections and areas surrounding Huntington Drive and Del Mar Avenue; Monterey Road and Los Robles Avenue; Huntington and St. Albans Road; Los Robles and Mission Street; Robles Avenue and Sierra Madre Boulevard; and Shenandoah and Virginia roads. Those who have concerns regarding equipment or personnel in their neighborhood are encouraged to ask the utility worker for identification or call the San Marino Police Department at (626) 300-0720.
It’s a thrilling moment in one of the more recognizable melodies in all of American music: Midway through John Philip Sousa’s ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever,” a special arrangement for the piccolo pierces the trumpets and trombones, adding elan to the national march of the United States. It lasts only about a half a minute, depending on the speed at which it is played, and can define musical careers. San Marino has its own practitioner of the iconic flourish and, to the enjoyment of the throng at the city’s July 4 celebration, it once again wafted from the bandstand in Lacy Park this past Sunday afternoon. So, how many times has veteran piccolo player Wendy Bradley performed the song? “Uncountable,” said Bradley, a longtime city resident and member of the San Marino Community Band, before settling on “more than a thousand.” “Sometimes, with rehearsals, I will play it a half dozen times a day,” she said.
John W. Lucas was born on March 14, 1923 (Pi Day) and passed peacefully on June 19, 2021 at the age of 98. His parents were Leo J. and Mary G. Lucas. His father was a member of the Lucas family that owned and operated the Lucas Ranching Company in Cucamonga, California. John’s mother’s maiden name was Schwamm. John had two brothers, Richard and Don, who predeceased him. During the fall of 1944, John was a member of the 13th reserve class at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. He received his commission as an Engineering Officer in December 1944. He then reported aboard a “baby” aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Casablanca-CVE 55, and served in the South Pacific during 1945. While on the ship, he was the ship’s band manager and conductor. Music and dancing were always a deep passion of his. He became an accomplished pianist and danced into his 90s with the Stardusters Ballroom Dance Club. John attended UC Davis and Berkeley for his undergraduate and graduate degrees, and he received his Ph.D. in Engineering from UCLA in 1953 after marrying his ever-lasting love Genevieve Marie Blessent on February 9, 1952. Shortly after their marriage, he was granted a Postdoctoral Fellowship by the National Science Foundation and moved with Genevieve and their first son to Berlin, Germany to conduct research at the Fritz Haber Institute (formerly the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physical Chemistry).
Following a year off as a result of the pandemic, San Marino residents were genuinely enthused to gather in Lacy Park on Monday morning for the city’s annual acknowledgement of Memorial Day. Well over 100 people assembled just west of the War Memorial in socially distanced fashion, but the extra space and mask requirements didn’t dim the passion as attendees paid their respects to the 53 San Marinans who gave their lives on the world’s battlefields. Among those elected officials accepting invitations to speak were Congresswoman Judy Chu, state Sen. Anthony Portantino and Assemblymember Ed Chau. Chu and Chau presented proclamations honoring the city’s consistent efforts to recognize the holiday and Portantino reenacted a presentation he had previously made virtually to Maggie Lee, president of the Chinese Club of San Marino, and San Marino city manager Marcella Marlowe. Portantino recently honored Lee and Marlowe as the two women from San Marino who have played an integral role in supporting their community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Julie Chan Lin, who was elected to the San Marino Unified School District Board of Education in November and took the oath of office in December, abruptly resigned less than 20 minutes into the panel’s meeting on May 25 — the second sudden departure of a member in two weeks. “I’d like to thank the community for entrusting me to represent you here on this board,” Chan Lin said when it was her turn to speak during the meeting’s section entitled “Communications From the Board of Education.” “With a heavy heart, I am letting you and my fellow board members know that I cannot continue to serve on this board. Tonight, I resign from the SMUSD Board of Education.” When contacted by the Tribune on Wednesday, Chan Lin declined further comment but shared a statement she posted to the San Marino schools’ participation forum.
The abrupt resignation of San Marino school board member Julie Chan Lin on May 25 means the beleaguered panel now must search for not one but two replacements. On Tuesday, May 11, Corey Barberie resigned his position on the board in anticipation of a family move to another state. On May 18, the panel opened a 17-day application period to commence efforts to fill the vacancy created by Barberie’s exit. That period ends Friday, June 4, at noon.
The San Marino City Council has unanimously approved the creation of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and will seek to contract with a specialist who can facilitate the panel. The group’s establishment was enthusiastically approved at last Friday’s meeting, along with its price tag of up to $45,000. The decision came on the heels of a proclamation for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and a similar decree lauding the Chinese Club of San Marino for its work, council actions that also dealt with the theme of diversity. Vice Mayor Susan Jakubowski had proposed exploring this issue at a prior meeting. “This is a ‘big heavy’ that we are taking on,” Jakubowski said Friday. “As we all know from our life experiences, many times we avoid and fear those we don’t know. We are hesitant to learn more, to ask questions, and I think the end product we’re looking for is a way to bring us all together.” San Marino’s commitment to a DEI reframing comes on the heels of a well-documented rise in hateful rhetoric and violence directed toward Asian and Pacific Islander Americans throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Much of this seems to be related to the virus’ apparent origins in China, and commentators often charged former President Donald Trump with fanning those flames by insisting on using phrases like “China virus” or “kung flu,” which often complemented his seeming political hostility to migrants. As noted in the city’s report preceding the vote on the task force, around 60% of San Marino’s population is of AAPI heritage, with Taiwanese and Chinese being the dominant sub-groups among them. City, school and civic operations are generally well integrated with the community, with Mandarin translation offered at many events with help from the Chinese Club. Still, as the report notes, some residents have reported experiencing hostility directed at them —sometimes by other local residents — because of their ethnicity. Community Engagement Manager Amanda Fowler said she consulted with other entities in the area in approaching this issue — DEI initiatives have permeated Los Angeles County and other parts of the country in recent years, particularly after the nationwide protests demanding a racial reckoning last summer. “The biggest takeaways from our conversation really were that this type of work, for it to be successful, needs to be community led but rooted in practicality, and we believe that’s why this approach would set us up to be as successful as possible,” Fowler said. The advantages of task forces are that they are not subject to Brown Act rules governing public meetings and that their memberships can also be more fluid. Retaining a specialist who can coordinate this task force and prompt the difficult questions and discussions, she added, can help guide the group from an objective starting point. In reaching the conclusion for this recommendation, Fowler said she often asked the other entities — cities and school districts — if they felt the expense was worthwhile. “They said it was, because it’s a typically difficult topic to discuss and the path forward toward developing an actionable plan personalized to your city can feel daunting,” she said. Council members were generally enthusiastic about the endeavor. Councilman Steve Talt said he hoped to identify “the tools to deal with some aspects of our relationships with people who may not look the same” from the task force. He recollected how one of his children, when young, responded when another person identified a classmate as being Chinese — “No dad, they’re from San Marino,” he quoted. “I wish that our attitude was more like our children,” Talt said. Councilman Steven Huang thanked Jakubowski for her “brilliant idea.” “We’re a big family and when you have siblings in the family, you don’t always get along,” Huang added. “I think we need this. I can support this.” In other business, the council reviewed and approved the city’s budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year. The proposed operating budget anticipated $31.4 million in revenues and $28.6 million in expenses — producing a net income of $2.8 million. The capital equipment and improvement budget is calling for spending $12.5 million, including about $2 million reallocated from unfinished projects approved for the current year. Finance Director Paul Chung said he expects the city’s relatively strong position that endured throughout the pandemic to continue. Property tax revenues, of course, make up the majority of the city’s income and would not have been significantly affected (if at all) by the emergency. “Obviously I or nobody can predict COVID or the resurgence that potentially might happen, but on the fiscal side … I feel that the city of San Marino is in very good fiscal health going into next year,” he said. The budget was approved 3-1 (Huang had to leave early), with Councilwoman Gretchen Shepherd Romey opposing — she later told the Tribune that her nay vote was rooted in her continuing opposition to the San Marino Center renovation project and its costs, which have risen since it was initially proposed. The approval also removed $40,000 from the city manager’s department for a communications initiative and an understanding that any changes made to the proposed fee schedule would be made effective after the fact.
Elizabeth Carlin Scannell passed peacefully in her sleep at her San Marino home on Sunday morning, April 25th. Betty, as she was always known, was born in San Francisco to Dennis Carlin and Elizabeth Carlin (Farrell) in 1933. Both her mother and father immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland. Dennis Carlin owned several pubs in San Francisco and became a successful real estate investor. Betty attended St. Cecilia Elementary School and Presentation High School where she was a star basketball player. She graduated from the College of Notre Dame of Belmont in California remaining lifelong friends with many of her classmates. She worked briefly as an elementary school teacher in the San Francisco Public Schools following graduation. Betty married Dennis Scannell in 1959 in the Bay Area. After having their first two children, they moved several times throughout California, eventually settling in San Marino where they raised Dennis Jr., Elizabeth, Michael, and Patrick, all of whom graduated from San Marino High School. She held her family most dear and was a big part of her nine, much-loved grandchildren’s lives, rarely missing a sporting event, stage production or ceremony.
Life is finally returning to normal for Caroline Lichtman, San Marino’s star hometown gymnast.
After a year of stay-at-home orders, Zoom practices, virtual meets, reduced training hours and general uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lichtman has advanced to compete at the USA Gymnastics women’s national championships that will take place this weekend in Daytona Beach, Florida.
It’s quite an accomplishment even under normal circumstances. But during a pandemic, it’s downright astonishing. Not only are gymnasts essentially required to stay in elite physical shape, but the sport requires the mastery of apparatus and equipment where literally every centimeter can provide the margin between success and failure. That’s not exactly an environment that is fostered by gym closures or anything that can be classified as “virtual.” Like any top athlete, he or she must train on a daily basis – and train hard – to stay on top of their game.
Caroline started off the 2020 season in fine form, but before she could compete at state and regional competitions and, ultimately, qualify for nationals, the season was upended by the pandemic. It is only through the perseverance that is necessary for – and ultimately fortified by – the daily rigors of the sport that she finds herself at the upper echelon of gymnastics.
There was perhaps no other development that signaled the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic last year on a local level than the cancellation of San Marino High School’s annual Grad Night celebration. The district acknowledged the graduating class of 2020 in a drive-thru ceremony, which was delayed until July 31 and allowed for the graduate to leave their automobile for a few brief seconds in order to receive a ceremonial diploma and pose for a couple photos. Though it was organized with the most pomp and circumstance possible, community members have been pining for a return to their familiar celebration. Their diligence will pay off in two weeks when Grad Night returns in its familiar form…sort of. Modifications to keep the students safe from possible infection will include mandatory mask-wearing and holding all activities outdoors on the upper basketball courts under a “big top” tent, in concert with its “Circus” theme.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked San Marino High School to be in the upper level of the nation’s public high schools, grading the school at a stellar 98.1 out of 100 in its annual evaluation. This grade slotted SMHS at No. 339 nationwide out of more than 17,000 high schools. In California, it was listed as the No. 46 out of nearly 1,700 evaluated, and it was the No. 17 high school in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Nationally, it was ranked an impressive No. 90 in STEM high schools. “San Marino High School has not only persevered through the COVID-19 crisis, but in many ways, we have triumphed,” said SMHS principal Jason Kurtenbach. “We maintained high levels of attendance and performance with our students throughout school closure due to our faculty being able to expertly rise to the challenge of teaching and learning in a digital environment and our hybrid learning plan. Moreover, in an effort to support our students we added SAT and ACT tests to our offerings during school closure so that our students would not need to travel in order to take the exams, which are valuable for college applications.” In specific grading breakdowns, U.S. News rated SMHS as No. 433 nationally in its college readiness index, which is based on the number of students who took and passed at least one advanced placement, or AP exam; No. 331 in college curriculum breadth, which is based on how many students took or passed multiple AP exams; and No. 324 in math and reading proficiency, which is based on state evaluations.
Though their institutions are located approximately two miles apart, San Marino High School Principal Jason Kurtenbach and Daryl Topalian, his counterpart at Huntington Middle School, had an identical message last Thursday morning. “It is great to see the kids again,” said Kurtenbach, as students completed the requisite temperature screening and filed into SMHS.
San Marino has hosted an egg hunt in some iteration for several decades, but the success of one held last Saturday might just change all that for good. Dubbed by the Recreation Department as “The Great San Marino Egg Hunt,” the event drew almost 600 participants. They cruised via automobile through town on the “bunny trail,” using a map to solve riddles and spot clues while searching for “Mr. and Mrs. Bunny” along the way. To sweeten the pot, Recreation Department staffers hid 10 “golden tickets” in eggs that were distributed at eight stops along the way.
Based on an enthusiastic recommendation from Kristine Franco, a member of San Marino High School’s counseling staff, senior Matthew Lee was named the Rotary Club of San Marino’s student of the month for February. And for good reason. Lee has a glittering dossier, topped by his recent acknowledgement as a National Merit Finalist, thus remaining in the competition for some 7,600 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $30 million. The son of Yun (George) Li and Linda Jing Yang, Matthew is also the engineering president of Titanium Robotics team at SMHS and captain of the school’s math and science teams. For the past year, Lee has also operated a group called TitanHacks, where he manages sponsorships and event planning for a what are called “hackathons,” where programmers team up to create original projects. With the leftover funds, TitanHacks operates a weekly food drive with the First Baptist Church of Alhambra.
Jim Folsom, who retired in December from the Huntington Library, Art Gallery and Botanical Gardens after a long and award-winning career, will be the featured speaker at San Marino City Club’s meeting on Tuesday, April 20, at 6:30 p.m. Folsom was the Telleen/Jorgensen Director of the Botanical Gardens at the Huntington Library. He joined the Huntington staff in 1984, serving as assistant curator before becoming director in 1987. As director of the Huntington’s gardens, he oversaw more than a dozen thematic gardens covering 120 acres of the 207-acre grounds. He served as a visionary and project head for the development of new gardens and botanical facilities and restoration of historic gardens and maintenance. He dedicated much of his efforts at the Huntington to education programs that increase public interest and understanding of the science, culture, and history of plants and gardens.
The San Marino school board has been busy with the work of getting students back to school. Earlier this week, they took the first step in hopes of keeping all campuses open and avoiding dramatic employee cuts. At a special meeting Monday night, the board voted 5-0 to take another crack at passing Measure E, a $968 per parcel education tax, which will now go before voters at a June 29 special election. The parcel tax — which generates approximately $4.1 million per year — was defeated by voters on March 2 because it did narrowly missed receiving the required two-thirds majority.
The city expects to hire an engineering consultant to assist in developing plans for Metro-backed traffic improvement projects this year, with the bill to be covered by the transportation agency. Although the City Council has not formally committed to the endeavor, it signaled tacit approval at last week’s council meeting, where the body informally went over potential capital construction projects for the forthcoming fiscal year. In a straw vote, the council asked to have a more detailed report on the proposal included in the formal budget process. It was estimated that the consulting service would cost around $95,000.
He was born on opening day of a season the Los Angeles Dodgers ended up winning the World Series. More than a half-century later, he can still remember the section, row and number of his first seat in Dodger Stadium, so it shouldn’t come as a complete surprise that Mark Langill wound up as the club’s team historian. So with the 2021 season days away, Langill was recruited to virtually address the Rotary Club of San Marino last Thursday afternoon to get members in the mood for some baseball. He was introduced as the Dodgers’ “Answer Man,” and Langill had plenty of them, including this supposed response to a question posed by Rotarian Barbara Bice, who introduced Langill. “Don’t hit the ball very well in Little League and you will be well on your way,” Langill allegedly said when asked how he secured his job. Langill began his address by posing an explanation to America’s fascination with baseball and, specifically, Opening Day.
During his keynote address for the City Club’s March meeting, San Marino resident Dr. Steve Park provided an overview of his life which includes service as a United States Navy medical officer and career as a hospitalist. In retrospect, an argument could be made that the subject of memory retention would have also sufficed, as Park’s is apparently as sound as the proverbial steel trap. So is former San Marino educator Loren Kleinrock’s, Park’s former assistant principal during his days at San Marino High School and offensive coordinator for the Titan football team, for which Park was a record-setting wide receiver. In vivid detail, Park recalled Kleinrock busting him for going to a buddy’s house for lunch even though he was not yet a privileged senior. Kleinrock, meanwhile, recalled one time Park didn’t perfectly execute one of his pass patterns. That these transgressions took place almost 30 years ago was incidental and only seemed to heighten the mutual respect that exists between them to this day.
Barely a week old, San Marino’s new service to the public is also one of its most treasured. That’s according to Fire Chief Mario Rueda in explaining the SMFD’s mobile vaccination for homebound (age 65-and-older) population program, which is operated in cooperation with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Now is the time for San Marino to come together as a community and bring back the goodwill and unity to the city we love so much. The Chinese Club of San Marino was founded more than 40 years ago as a support system for new immigrants to San Marino. Four decades later, sadly we are still dealing with many of the same issues we had in the past. As an active member of the San Marino community, CCSM has donated millions of dollars to various organizations within the city through the years. We will continue to play an active role within the community to promote understanding, love and unity in San Marino. Even with clean streets, manicured lawns and civic traditions, San Marino has not been immune to the global pandemic and the ensuing rise in hate, violence and aggression directed at the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Recent events and world issues have been divisive in nature, and as humans our first instinct is to look for answers often times by placing blame. The community is what makes San Marino special. The Chinese Club of San Marino asks everyone to rededicate themselves to the family values and community spirit to support each other through these times. This past year has been extremely difficult on our Chinese American communities, and we have felt the weight of the pandemic across every area of our country. As we live through traumatic acts of hate, xenophobic rhetoric and violence, there is an even greater need for our diverse communities to come together to collectively address the challenges that we are facing. COVID-19 has posed issues for all of us.
More than a year after they abruptly closed due to concerns about COVID-19, San Marino’s public schools can once again be considered “open for business,” effective Thursday, April 1. “I am very excited for our students,” said school board president Shelley Ryan, herself an educator. “Whether you are in kindergarten, second grade or high school, this is very good news. This has been an exhausting year.” Students in grades TK — transitional kindergarten — through 5th grade already began in- person learning at Valentine and Carver elementary schools in late February and early March, but Thursday will mark a significant return to the district’s campuses.
The City Council began its dive into the budgeting session at a special meeting last week, where administrators went over several capital equipment purchases proposed by city departments for the next fiscal year. No commitments were made last week. Rather, the council signaled a simple agreement that the purchases be included in the departments’ broader budget proposals, potentially with more informative reports on them. Capital projects will be considered in this straw poll format next month.
San Marino’s Grace Navarro has advanced to the semifinal round of the Los Angeles Music Center’s annual Spotlight program, thus remaining in contention for more than $100,000 in scholarships. Navarro, a junior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA), is majoring in classical voice in the school’s opera company and vocal department. She attended Valentine Elementary and Huntington Middle schools before spending a year at Maranatha, then it was on to LACHSA. “This is an incredibly unique school and it has given me so many opportunities,” said Navarro. “I love all of my peers, friends and teachers at LACHSA because we are like-minded people and inspire one another to strive for citizen artistry. I really couldn’t ask for a better high school experience. By far, my favorite part about LACHSA is the confidence it instills in me. My teachers always encourage me to believe in what I am doing.” Navarro also studies piano, music theory and acting. After LACHSA, she plans on taking a gap year before applying to conservatory.
There is perhaps no more accurate indicator of the societal heath of San Marino than the condition of its Little League. That institution received a spotless check-up at last Saturday morning’s annual Opening Day festivities. Though teams had been returning to practice sessions for several weeks, players donned uniforms and — in many cases — matching facemasks to celebrate the official return to the season. “It was great to have our kids back on the fields,” said Daisy Wilson, president of San Marino National Little League, noting that more than 300 kids played their first games on Saturday. “It is so nice to finally be surrounded by some normalcy as we hopefully get back to reality.” Until further notice, spectators must be from a player’s immediate family, remain socially distanced, and are not allowed to sit in the grandstands.
The City Council delayed judgment of an appeal to a future date, in part to push the applicants to actually get input from a number of neighbors regarding a reality television series the applicants hope to film at a home.
In its meeting last week, the council also punted on an appeal for a mixed-use building proposed to be built along Mission Street, instead opting to schedule a de novo hearing at a later date. The city is expected to argue that the project should be denied because it could not pass a plan check in the event it was approved, at least as currently designed.
The four applicants for the denied filming permit — Rosemary Lay, Julie Chan Lin, Alice Shyu and Weni Wilson — are in the meantime tasked with revisiting a number of homes within a 500-foot radius of their own houses they deemed to be unoccupied in their initial surveys. Additionally, the city staff report indicated that they overlooked some required homes entirely in their initial surveying.
Less than two weeks after the defeat of Measure E, the San Marino school board unanimously approved a resolution calling for the elimination of 41 teaching and advisory positions in order to balance the budget for the 2021-22 school year, it was announced at Tuesday night’s board meeting.
Though the results of the election have not yet been certified, Measure E had been approved by 2,192 voters (63.04%) to 1,285 (36.96%) who voted in opposition. Measure E required a two-thirds majority for passage.
Measure E raised $4 million annually at $968 per parcel, adjusted by the lesser of the Los Angeles Statistical Area Consumer Price Index or 3%, including commercial properties within the boundaries of the school district. First approved by voters in 2009 for a six-year term, the parcel tax was renewed in 2015 and will now expire in June 2021, erasing approximately 10% of the district’s budget.
The Rev. Jenifer Chatfield was filled with anticipation. After going through a six-month interview process that began in the early fall of 2019, Chatfield was officially called to serve as the eighth rector of San Marino’s St. Edmunds Episcopal Church.
Chatfield, who was introduced to the parish in January 2020, presided over her first service on March 1, 2020, which coincided with the first Sunday of Lent.
“I had a great time,” said Chatfield, laughing, and with full understanding of what was coming next. “The following Sunday, there was no communion wine, no hugs. No shaking of hands. Then of course, we know what happened.”
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic has yet to run its course, Chatfield didn’t quite finish that sentence. She has, however, gone about the business of forging relationships with her parishioners in what is among the most difficult ministerial environment, especially for a newcomer.
Diane Falconer’s journey has taken her, literally, around the world.
Falconer, who was raised in San Marino when she was known by her maiden name Diane Harwich, attended and later graduated from the University of California, Berkeley. While there, she received a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship and traveled to the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia, from 1983-84, where she studied worked on her master’s degree as the Rotary Club of San Marino’s second international scholar.
Now a resident of Connecticut, Falconer virtually addressed the club last Thursday afternoon, saying her ambassadorial experience changed her life, so much so that she used it as the title of her presentation.
She even had a chance to rekindle her relationship with Rotarian Barbara Bice, who as Falconer’s college counselor suggested she apply for the scholarship.
Falconer began by showing a slide of the famous “Earthrise,” a photograph that was taken by astronauts aboard Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve 1968.
Though supporters of Measure E — the parcel tax which partially funds the San Marino Unified School District — received an increase in votes this past week, the final numbers weren’t enough to approve the parcel tax, which went down to defeat. Measure E was a funding source which provides more than $4 million to the district’s coffers.
The San Marino educational community is mobilizing its response to the defeat of Measure E, the parcel tax which raised more than $4 million annually for the district’s schools.
At its meeting on Tuesday evening, the San Marino school board was expected to approve a resolution calling for the elimination of 41 teaching and advisory positions in order to balance the budget for the 2021-22 school year. By law, the district must provide layoff notices for the upcoming school year to employees by Monday, March 15. The call has also gone out to the San Marino Schools Foundation [SMSF], an organization which is typically enlisted for duty during times of financial duress.
Mark Liang, a member of San Marino High School’s graduating class of 2015, has received a Global Grant scholarship for graduate study at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, beginning this October.
Liang will be engaged in the masters of philosophy, health, medicine and society program beginning this October. Liang’s interests align with Rotary’s area of focus that includes disease prevention and treatment. The scholarship is valued at $31,000.
At Cambridge, Liang plans to study the ways immigrants are disproportionately affected by disease when crossing borders and geographic boundaries. He expects to work extensively with the health organizations at Cambridge and the United Kingdom, extending the work he already has been doing in the United States.
Doing their part in reducing a “gap” in educational needs that has arisen during COVID-19, several San Marino High School students recently started Project Edge — a cost-free tutoring service available to anyone with a computer and internet access.
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has only widened a discrepancy in education results between those who can easily keep up and those who cannot. Students now have to adapt to an online schooling environment that is not universally effective and, thus, are unable to receive a proper education at this time. Students everywhere have been turning to tutoring as a solution, although there are problems in that domain as well.
As with most life-changing events, Julie Anding can recall one particular anniversary with pinpoint accuracy.
“December 27, 2017,” exclaimed Anding, without hesitation. “I was in Utah for Christmas and my mom and I were going to grab some lunch.”
Unlike memories of other landmark events — a marriage proposal, or finding out you were admitted to your dream school or landed that once-in-a-lifetime job — this is one date Anding would much rather forget.
“We took a one-floor elevator ride in the lodge and immediately after I stepped out of the elevator, I turned and looked at her and said, ‘I feel really weird, like I’m on a boat or something,’” Anding recalled recently. “That was my onset.”
She was spot-on in identifying the symptoms and also the very complex name for what was happening to her. It’s called mal de debarquement, a French word that means, literally, “illness of disembarkment,” a neurological condition that typically takes place following a cruise, plane trip or other event that includes sustained motion. While many feel similar effects for a short period of time, Anding’s lasted much longer — in fact, to this very day.
City officials are currently projecting a $2.1 million revenue surplus for the fiscal year, thanks to a downturn in revenues being similarly offset by reduced expenditures from the same cause — the pandemic.
The city was on track after the first six months of the year to finish with $1.1 million fewer than initially anticipated in income, according to Finance Director Paul Chung. At the same time, the trend indicates that the city’s proposed expenditures will be down $1.4 million by the end of the year. In fact, expenses for the year’s halfway point were listed as being just 44.3%.
Five San Marino residents who want to create what a spokesperson for the group called a “presentation film” but were denied filming permits will appeal the decision at the city council meeting on Wednesday, March 11.
Alice Shyu, Rosemary Lay, Julie Chan Lin, Carol Huang and Weni Wilson, along with two other women — Winnie Wang and Elizabeth Yang, who do not live in San Marino — were refused filming permits by the city on Feb. 11.
A group of San Marino students hope to propagate a successful startup service project from neighboring South Pasadena and offer composting service to San Marino residents.
The volunteers have joined onto Compost Culture, a projected started last year by two South Pasadena High School students to offer compost collection service to their city’s residents and businesses. Fresh off the success of winning the competition sponsored by the organization that funded them, the two SPHS students plan to branch out into their neighboring communities.
San Marino was first on the list.
“I was reading about it on their website and I thought it was really cool what they were doing,” explained Gianna Karkafi, a sophomore and cabinet member of the Green Club at San
Last Thursday’s Rio Hondo League cross-country meet was rife with missteps and miscommunications, but after the eleven-and-a-half months that preceded it, it’s safe to say that nobody cared in the least.
The only thing that mattered was that it took place at all.
“This helps bring back our sanity,” declared Angus Leung, San Marino High School’s cross-country coach, as runners assembled at the starting line.
Since the San Marino Unified School District closed its campuses on the ominous date of Friday, March 13, 2020, and shut down all in-person extracurricular activities, athletes, their families and coaches have ridden the roller coaster of all roller coasters anticipating their return. That day arrived last Thursday, Feb. 25, following a series of scheduled starting dates that went wanting while the pesky coronavirus persisted.
But that all came to an end, at least for now, as San Marino High School’s harriers donned their royal blue uniforms and took to the trails of Pasadena’s Hahamongna Watershed Park to celebrate the return of sports. Due to the socially distanced nature of their sport, Titan runners were able to train almost uninterrupted and have held student-only workouts since last summer.
On the picturesque three-mile course, senior Peyton Talt blazed to a finish of 20 minutes, 31 seconds to finish second overall in the girls’ varsity race. Junior Anya Tang (seventh place, 21:59), junior Katelyn Hansa (23:49), senior Avery Page (24:12) and senior Lily Tong (24:47) locked up second place behind South Pasadena.
The Titan boys’ varsity didn’t have enough members to record a team score as two runners were unaware of a turn during the race and ended up chopping off a substantial distance. Junior Gavin O’Malley successfully made it from start to finish to pace the Titans, finishing 12th overall in 20 minutes, 11 seconds. Freshman Taylor Tan had a strong first outing with a clocking of 23:26 to display promise for the future.
Measure E, the parcel tax that raises $4 million annually for schools within the boundaries of the San Marino Unified School District, had fallen behind the pace needed for victory following an initial ballot count that was taken after polls closed on Tuesday evening at 8 p.m.
At The Tribune’s press deadline, Measure E had received 1,850 yes votes (62.82%) with 1,095 votes in opposition, or 37.18%. The parcel tax required two-thirds approval by the more than 10,400 registered voters who live within the boundaries of the school district to pass.
That tally included all votes that were received by day’s end Tuesday either via mail or in-person drop-off since the election began.
“I am so excited … it’s my first time here in real life!”
“I have waited so long for this!”
The old adage declaring that “out of the mouths of babes oft come gems” was never more accurate than this past Monday morning when students were welcomed back to San Marino Unified School District campuses after almost a year away because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two kindergartners were overheard vocalizing these two nuggets as students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade came back to Valentine and Carver Elementary schools. The event was rife with uncommon sights such as students having their temperatures checked and directional signage encouraging social distancing, but after months away from their friends and teachers, nobody was upset by it.
“What a remarkable day,” exclaimed Valentine Elementary School Principal Alana Fauré. “We had 134 children come back to school with confidence and excitement. They couldn’t wait to meet their teachers for the first time in-person.”
Fauré reported that, thankfully, the extended time away from campus may not have affected one fundamental tenet of youth.
Preparation is one of the chief watchwords for those in the field of engineering, so it came as somewhat of a surprise when Dr. Jeng Yen admitted he was completely caught off guard when he saw photos and a video that were recently snapped by his wife, Renee Wang.
“All right!” Yen is heard exclaiming, his right fist thrust upward as he surveyed what was unfolding via his laptop.
One can forgive both his temporary lapse of attention as well as that brief moment of exultation considering Yen was witnessing the successful landing of the Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars last Thursday. The seven-month, 300 million-mile journey successfully completed, Yen will now busy himself with the joyous task of remotely driving Perseverance, which is approximately the size of a standard automobile, as it conducts its mission to collect samples of rock and soil from the surface of Mars to detect possible signs of ancient life on the Red Planet.
Like many of our readers, I have humbly reconsidered many basic aspects that I had previously taken for granted prior to 2020. The uniquely infectious nature of COVID-19 has forced us to creatively stretch ourselves to continue our way of life.
As COVID-19 has affected our school district, I helped oversee the virtual curriculum and adjustment process to the international pandemic. I worked diligently as San Marino Unified School District board president with our superintendent, Dr. Jeff Wilson, and a core team since March 2020, so that our kids could continue to learn during this difficult time.
However, my trip to Taiwan this past December has allowed me to further reflect and wish to share my curious journey. This past year marked the longest time away from my hometown in 37 years. When our understanding of the COVID-19 virus through our public health measures had sufficiently improved, I decided to visit my relatives for a bit longer this time.
Despite its small size as an island nation with a population of 23.78 million, Taiwan represents an example of public health at its finest. Of the 103 million cases worldwide, only 915 have been in Taiwan since the start of the pandemic, including eight months without a single death, according to a Reuters story on Jan. 29. These rare numbers are only possible through a shared community adherence to public health measures that have protected the people. Before my flight to Taiwan, I had to begin to prepare for the gamut of regulations from Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control for incoming travelers.
One of the priciest, most prestigious properties in Southern California hit the real estate market last Friday and San Marino’s Brent and Linda Chang were able to secure the co-listing.
Officially known as the Seeley Mudd Estate, the seven-acre property in San Marino — which features a 14,000-square-foot American Colonial structure — is possibly better known by its secondary purpose: Since 1979, it has served as the home to USC’s presidential families.
But it’s all yours for the asking price of $24.5 million, which will buy a slice of history considering the landscaped grounds were donated by Henry Huntington and Gen. George Patton. The estate was designed by renowned Pasadena architect Reginald Johnson and built in 1934.
Numbers continue to reflect the expectations of what a pandemic means for San Marino’s budgeting, according to an update last week from the city’s finance director.
General fund revenues fell by around 2.7% in the second quarter year-over-year, according to Finance Director Paul Chung. This represents a drop by $322,000, hardly an insurmountable amount for a city flush in reserve funding. The primary culprit, Chung explained, is the interruption of services that simply don’t work during a pandemic.
“Obviously with the COVID impacts, we have the facility closures due to the library and recreation programs being shut down. Those revenues are not as high as last year,” he said. “[Investment] yields are also lower as treasury yields continue to be low due to the COVID impacts.”
The San Marino Unified School District discussed a strategy to bring students back to its campuses as early as Monday, Feb. 22, at its most recent school board meeting on Feb. 9. If implemented, the plan would reinstate at least partial in-
person education for students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade at Valentine and Carver Elementary schools.
The plan was fortified when the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced on Monday that they expect the state’s COVID-19 case threshold to reach the predetermined limit that had been deemed safe by health officials.
“The state permits elementary schools to reopen as soon as we reach an adjusted case rate of 25 per 100,000,” the public health department said in its news release. “We are informing Los Angeles County schools via an emailed letter that we expect to announce we have reached this threshold effective Tuesday, Feb. 16.”
Normally, the Rotary Club of San Marino earmarks a hard 30-minute time allotment for its guest speakers, but last Thursday afternoon’s presentation by Huntington Hospital president and CEO Dr. Lori Morgan made many meeting attendees actually thankful that the Zoom format allowed for more than twice that duration.
Morgan has been in her position since 2017, and her more than three decades of experience in health care and health care management were on display as she handled questions that were submitted by club members on a wide variety of topics and presented to her by San Marinan Barbara Bice, who has worked at Huntington Hospital and has been a patient and visited others there.
There is good news coming from the iconic San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe: It’s remaining open and it’s remaining in San Marino. On Monday, March 1, Christine Johnson will take the keys from the Carpiac family after a brief closure to restock and retool.
“We are excited,” said Kelley Carpiac, who took over the store in March 2019. “As we said when we did this, we wanted the store to stay in the community and we are proud that we can do that. Christine will take it to the next level and I am excited to see what she can do.”
The final day for the Carpiacs will be Saturday, March 20, and then Johnson will give it a go.
“This is great news for everybody: for the community and the children and for play and fun,” said Johnson, who has experience in the field. “This is something we cannot let go of in the community. That is my mission, that kids stay kids. Let the children play and bring a smile to everyone’s face. It’s vitally important right now.”
Johnson previously owned Miracle Mile Toys & Games in Los Angeles, which she described as “a true, classic toy store.” She and her four children — who are enrolled in San Marino High School, Huntington Middle School, Carver Elementary School and a preschooler — moved into the SMUSD and immediately became customers of the San Marino Toy & Book Shoppe.