PV Foremothers

Short Biographies of Palos Verdes Peninsula Women

In the middle of a raging pandemic, the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment securing a woman's right to vote has not been forgotten. Intended as a physical exhibit for the Peninsula Center Library's foyer, we have moved this display online so you can enjoy it from wherever you are. 

These mini biographies offer a sample of the women who have contributed to the Palos Verdes community.  From writers, to government officials, community builders to library supporters and more, the women presented here offer a small glimpse into the incredible work of women who have contributed to the Palos Verdes community. 

These biographies have been compiled by Palos Verdes Estates resident and Local History Center volunteer, Sue Tittle

If you would like to contribute a short biography for this exhibit, please fill out this form: https://pvlibrary.wufoo.com/forms/q1tzig2t0m8aekd/

About Sue:

 

Image by Richard Freeman
 

Sue has been a long time volunteer with the Palos Verdes Library District, first with the Adult Services Department assisting with music programs, and most recently in the Local History Center, assisting in creating biographical files of local residents.  With her knowledge of the “people” in our files, Sue leaped at the opportunity to research, write up and share the fascinating histories of our Peninsula women.  Some women are well known, and others much less so, but they all are equally important to the development and documentation of our community.  

As we celebrate the momentous anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, we hope you enjoy these biographies and learning about the diverse women who have made the Peninsula home. 

 
 
 
 
 
 Monique Sugimoto
 Archivist and Local History Librarian
 2020 Women’s Suffrage Programming Committee
 Thank you to our PV Women's Suffrage Centennial Committee (Left)

 

 

Mildred Burrows Beckstrand
1901 - 1994
Mr. Beckstrand, ca 1926.
(Palos Verdes Social Review, October 1964)
 

Born in Utah in 1901, Mildred attended the University of Utah where she met and married her husband, Grant Beckstrand, who became a renowned cancer surgeon. After graduation, the couple moved to California, ultimately settling in Palos Verdes Estates.  Mildred lived on the Peninsula for over 50 years and was a noted artist, civic leader, philanthropist and art collector.

An artist, Mildred also developed leadership skills. She was a founding member of St. Mary’s Hospital Guild (Long Beach), organizing Director of Palos Verdes Savings & Loan, President of the PV Arts Center, and Assistant Director of Civil Defense for the Palos Verdes Peninsula during World War II.  She also worked on a number of fundraising campaigns for political candidates.

In 1946, as a write-in candidate, Mildred was elected to the Palos Verdes Estates City Council as its first woman council member. Upon the death of her husband, she became active in fundraising efforts to fight cancer. To honor his career, she endowed a chair at the University of Utah School of Medicine.  Mildred died in 1994 at the age of 93.

 

 

Margaret Lee Chadwick
1893 - 1984
Ms. Chadwick, ca 1962.
(Palos Verdes Social Review, September 1962)
 

Margaret Lee, born in Utah, was one of 8 children. She attended Wooster College in Ohio but transferred to Stanford University where she graduated with a degree in English literature. She began her career in education as principal of a school in rural Nevada.

When Margaret Lee was visiting her brother in Shanghai, she was introduced to Joseph Chadwick, a naval officer. The couple married and had three children. In the 1930’s, Lt. Commander Chadwick’s tour brought the family to San Pedro, where the children were enrolled in public school. Both parents found the schools unsatisfactory and deficient in academic standards.

“Education is the #1 responsibility of parents, teachers and school boards,” she wrote. “If we don’t first care for our children and then educate them, we lose what we’ve gained over the ages.”

Margaret Lee homeschooled her children. By 1935 she founded a school with four students: her sons and the two children of Fred and Edna Roessler, prominent early Peninsula residents. Frank Vanderlip became interested in the school and deeded 33 hilltop acres for its campus.  The Roesslers funded the first three buildings. Chadwick School officially opened in 1939 with 75 students from elementary through high school. It was the first high school located on the Peninsula.

Ms. Chadwick (her preferred title) and her high academic standards brought Chadwick School local and international acclaim. After her retirement in 1963, she authored three non-fiction books: Looking At the Sunset Upside Down (autobiography), 1976; A Dipperful of Humanity (Story of Chadwick School), 1978; and The Lee Family of Spanish Fork, Utah, 1979. She died in 1984 at the age of 91. 

To hear Mr. Chadwick, click on 'Listen to this Interview Online' from the Margaret Chadwick record in the catalog here.  

Adelle Davis
1904 - 1974
Adelle Davis, ca 1966.   
(Palos Verdes Social Review, December 1966.)
 

Adelle Davis, the youngest of five daughters, was born on a farm in Indiana in 1904. She was considered the most influential American nutritionist in the early to mid-20th century.

“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” was her most famous quote. While most of her ideas about nutrition and disease have not withstood modern scientific inquiry, she was ahead of her time in advocating the avoidance of hydrogenated and saturated fats and added sugar, the dangers of vitamin deficiencies, and the need for exercise.

Adelle attended Purdue University but transferred to the University of California Berkeley where she graduated with a degree in dietetics. Later, she obtained a master’s in biochemistry from University of Southern California. She worked as a consulting nutritionist, was a popular local and national speaker, and was the author of four best-selling books on nutrition: Let’s Cook It Right (1947), Let Us Have Healthy Children (1951, 1970), Let’s Eat Right To Keep Fit (1954, 1972) and Let’s Get Well (1965). These books were estimated to have sold a total of 7 million copies.

In private life, she was married with two adopted children, and lived in Palos Verdes Estates. She died at age 70 in 1974.

Adelle Davis Foundation  http://www.adelledavis.org/adelle-davis/

 

 
Alice Dyrsmid
1901 - 1994
Alice Drysmid behind the wheel, ca 1943.  
(Palos Verdes Story by Delane Morgan) 
Women of the Red Cross Motor Corps in WWI 
 

Alice was born in the California Gold Country in 1901.  She graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a teaching certificate. She and her husband bought property in the Valmonte area of Palos Verdes Estates, and built the first house on Via Cardelina in 1931. She recalled ordering groceries from Moore’s Market in Malaga Cove and walking to Redondo Beach to shop.

She persuaded her husband to let her learn to drive and obtain a driver’s license by passing a course in car engine repair. This came in handy during World War II when she was a volunteer in charge of the Red Cross Motor Corps. Her duties included running errands, delivering food to troops stationed in the area, transporting people to and from hospitals and blood banks, and even chauffeuring entertainers for the troops.  Troops patrolled the Peninsula coastline at night to protect against a sneak attack by Japanese submarines. 

All of the homes had to black out their windows at night, and Alice was part of the group that drove around in the dark to check for compliance. The Motor Corps Group also said “Bon Voyage” to the troops when they shipped out of San Pedro, and “Welcome Home!” when they returned from the war.

Alice lived in Palos Verdes Estates for 52 years. The couple had no children. She died in 1994 at the age of 93.
 

Ruby Hale Field
1897 - 1998
Ruby Hale Field portrait, ca 1980.
(Palos Verdes Library District, Peninsula Friends of the Library Collection) 
 

Ruby was born in 1897 in San Jose, California and raised there. The daughter of one of the founders of a chain of department stores which became The Broadway, she graduated with a degree in English and Journalism from Stanford University.

Moving to Southern California in 1930 after her marriage to Oliver Field, a founder of Chevron, the couple was among the earliest residents of the Peninsula. Ruby devoted her philanthropic activity to a lifelong involvement with the Palos Verdes Library District.

She served a total of 24 years as a Library Trustee, watching the district grow from one library to three. During her years of service, she led efforts to build the main Peninsula Center Library, opening in 1967, and the Miraleste Branch, opening in 1970. Ruby made frequent large, anonymous donations to the District for various projects.

She was also interested in the preservation of old specimen trees and plants on the Peninsula. Additionally, she was a founder of the Palos Verdes Women’s Club. She lived in her landmark Palos Verdes Estates home almost 70 years and watched the area change from a rural enclave to a modern, residential city. 

The Library District Ruby loved and supported so generously honored her with a 100th birthday party.  The Peninsula Friends of the Library, the Library’s support group, named their planned giving program, The Ruby Hale Field Legacy Society, after her.  She died just short of her 101st birthday in 1998.

PDF iconPVLD_LegacyBrochure_2020.pdf

Peninsula Center Library groundbreaking.  Pictured from left to right, William C. Emerson, District Librarian, Ruby Hale Field and Edward Chaffee, President of the Library Board of Trustees. 1966.  (Palos Verdes Library District, Local History Center Photo Collection)
Caroline Garland
1914 - 1998
Robert and Caroline Gardner, ca 1941.
(Palos Verdes Social Review, September 1963)
 

Caroline was born in 1914 and moved to the Valmonte area of Palos Verdes Estates in the 1940’s when trees and the population were sparse.  From the start, she was active in building the social and cultural life of the community.

She was a founder of Los Campaneros, a club that sponsored black-tie dinners and dancing. With a friend, she organized the first snack stand at the Palos Verdes Pool, serving hot dogs and hamburgers. She was active in the parish life of St. Francis Episcopal Church and the Art Circle. Many children became lifelong tennis players because of the classes she organized for youth.

For many years, Caroline wrote a society column for the Palos Verdes Peninsula News entitled, “The Peninsula Patter."  She was remembered by her many friends for her love of life and for always having time for her friends and community service.  Mother of a son, Caroline died in 1998 at age 84.

 

Jane Armstrong Hall
1922 - 2013
Jane Hall, ca 1973.  
(Palos Verdes Social Review, November 1973)
 

Jane Armstrong was born in 1922 in Los Angeles. At age four, her parents moved into the eighth house built in Palos Verdes Estates.  Jane graduated from Stanford University. She later obtained a Master’s Degree in Art History from the University of California Los Angeles.

The twin passions of Jane’s life were art and people. She created hundreds of drawings, watercolors and oil paintings throughout her life.  Always community-minded and motivated to help others, she was an active member of the Junior League of Los Angeles, American Field Service (AFS), the National Charity League and the Peninsula Committee of Children’s Hospital.  In addition to her many volunteer activities, Jane was the mother of six children.

Jane helped refugee families settle in their new country, provided shelter for foster children, and welcomed foreign students to live with her family through the AFS program.  Quoted in the Palos Verdes Social Review, Jane said the “child without a home is a victim of our society.  Taking a child for emergency short term care … or for a longer period as a family member is filling a civic need in the natural environment of one’s own home.”  

Another outreach of hers was the development of a non-profit gallery in New Mexico for aspiring artists.

When Jane passed away in 2013 at the age of 91, she was the oldest surviving original resident of Palos Verdes Estates.

 

Annie Ishibashi
1925 - 1992
Annie Ishibashi, 1991.
(Palos Verdes Peninsula News, Our Town cover November 1991. Image by Tom Underhill)
 

Annie Mitsuye was born in Washington state in 1925. She was the oldest of nine children born to Japanese immigrant farmers.  During the forced incarceration of Japanese-American citizens during World War II, Annie lived at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming. While there, she learned flower arranging and developed her love of blooms.  Annie also met her future husband James while they were harvesting potatoes together.

After the war, the couple married and came to the Peninsula to join members of James’ extended farming family.  The Ishibashi family was one of the few farmers to return to the Peninsula after the internment camps were closed. Here they raised their two children. From the early 1960’s, they operated farm stands to sell fresh produce and flowers.  Annie became known as “The Flower Lady” because of her skills in creating lush, beautiful bouquets. She loved her work, saying, ”It’s better instead of staying home looking at the walls and talking to yourself."

“Annie’s Stand” became a fixture on PV Drive South. Her many devoted customers loved and appreciated her so much that they petitioned the city of Rancho Palos Verdes to designate her humble farm stand as a historic monument. Annie passed away at the age of 67 in 1992, greatly mourned by the Peninsula community.

Betty Lukas
1925 - 2016
Betty Lukas, 2011. 
(Palos Verdes Estates:  75 Years in the Making, video directed and produced by Vanessa H. Smith to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the City of Palos Verdes Estates)
 

Betty Chamberlin was born in Ohio in 1925, where she grew up. She attended the University of Michigan and began working at the school paper.  This grew into an over 50 year career in journalism.  After graduating, she worked in Toledo as a reporter for the local newspaper.

In 1966, Betty and her family, including three children, moved to Palos Verdes Estates. She was the features editor for the Palos Verdes Peninsula News from 1967 to 1973. During this time, Betty obtained a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Southern California by attending night classes. She became the first woman news editor of the Los Angeles Times, with an 18 year career.

Throughout her life, Betty maintained many creative hobbies and civic interests. As a volunteer in the Library’s Local History Center after her retirement, she wrote 34 articles for the Peninsula News.  With Marjean Blinn, then the local history librarian, these articles were compiled into the book, Peninsula Past: The Complicated Birth of Paradise, published in 2011. Betty also published a book of poems, wrote several short plays, and returned to the PV News as a monthly columnist and features writer.  She wrote a column on Palos Verdes Estates and “PVE Cares," a program dedicated to the welfare, health and education of the city’s senior population.  

Betty’s last article for the PV News, written shortly before she passed away shows the wit, warmth and charm that Betty was known for.   

Betty died at age 91 in 2016.

Romayne C. Martin
1890 - 1991
Romayne C. Martin, 1926. 
(Palos Verdes Library District Local History Center Photo Collection)
 

Romayne Woodside Cross was born in Kansas 1890, but raised in Boston as the child of a prosperous banker. Throughout her long life, she always considered herself a “proper Bostonian," well-educated, and raised to be a lady. She married Farnham Battles Martin in 1913. He worked as a landscape architect for the Olmsted Brothers, who chose him to come work on a project in the remote southern California coastal area that ultimately became Palos Verdes Estates.

The Martin’s built their home, the third one in Palos Verdes Estates, in 1925.  Farnham died in a traffic accident in 1928, leaving Romayne to raise two young children. To support the family, she got her first paid job at Bullock’s Department Store in downtown LA, commuting by the Red Car system.

Despite the challenges and stress, Romayne thrived. She established what eventually became the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District and was instrumental in establishing the Palos Verdes Library District.  The Malaga Cove Library is built on land donated by her and her late husband. 

Romayne Martin was a true “mover and shaker.” Her inexhaustible volunteerism and uncommon generosity cannot be underestimated in creating the powerful education and cultural institutions the Peninsula enjoys today.  She passed away in 1991 at the age 101.

Agnes McMillan
1883 - 1956
Agnes McMillan, ca 1945. 
(Palos Verdes Library District Local History Center Photo Collection)
 

Agnes Isabelle McMillan was born in Eureka, California in 1883. She became a librarian  working in Sacramento, Seattle, Honolulu, and Santa Monica. In 1930, Agnes was recruited from Santa Monica to become the first librarian for the new Palos Verdes Library in Malaga Cove.

Agnes never married and served the library with distinction for over 25 years. The extensive background and library experience she brought to the community, along with her special interest in young people, made her a beloved local figure. Under her leadership, library holdings grew to over 40,000. Considering the challenges of the times she worked here (the Depression and World War II to name two) this was a remarkable accomplishment.

Without warning, Agnes died of a heart attack in 1956 at the age of 73. The entire Peninsula community grieved the loss of this inspiring woman.

Agnes McMillan, ca 1931.
(Palos Verdes Bulletin, June 1931) 
 

To see how Agnes McMillan built the Library collection, follow her career in the Palos Verdes Bulletin

Lillian Placentia
1906 - 2002
Lillian Placentia, ca 1988. 
(Palos Verdes Library District, Local History Center Oral History Collection)
 

Lillian Machado was born in 1905 on Rattlesnake Island (known today as Terminal Island) in San Pedro Bay. She attended elementary school on the island but had to commute by ferry to San Pedro for high school.  Two of her classmates were the daughters of the lighthouse keeper. 

Lillian was a descendant of the Machado family, original “Californios” who once owned Rancho Ballona (now Marina del Rey). The Machado land grant included Machado Lake in what is now Harbor Park at the foot of the Palos Verdes Hills. In her oral history interview, Lilian recalls as a child enjoying picnics in the Palos Verdes Hills with her family. She also recalled making the trip from San Pedro to Redondo Beach with her mother to visit friends. The trip was by horse and buggy and required an overnight stay.

Growing up, Lillian knew Roman Sepulveda well. She recalled him as a witty gentleman who rode on horseback all over the Peninsula in traditional Mexican charro clothes. He helped build a hotel at Whites Point on what is today the Rancho Palos Verdes - San Pedro border. Lillian also remembered the devastating Long Beach earthquake of 1933.

She also vividly recalled the removal of Japanese fishing families from Terminal Island after the Pearl Harbor bombing and the start of World War II. Later she and the rest of the Terminal Island residents were evacuated with only 48 hours notice and never allowed to return to their homes or businesses, with no compensation.

With her second husband, a longshoreman, Lillian provided water taxi services from San Pedro to Catalina Island during World War II.  She was not a stranger to this route having crewed on similar boats during World War I, known for her strong, fearless swimming skills. 

Lillian’s recollections of the Peninsula documented in her 1988 oral history capture the early days of the Peninsula’s development, history and culture.  

Lillian Placentia died in 2002 at the age of 96.

Edna Roessler
1894 - 1987
Edna and Fred Roessler, ca 1942.
(Palos Verdes Library District Local History Center Photo Collection)
 

Edna Lucille Hansen was born in Wisconsin in 1894 and raised in North Dakota.  She arrived in Southern California at 25 to start a career as a lab technician, unusual at that time when women generally stayed at home to raise children, and teaching was one of the few occupations available for women.  Here she met her husband, Hans Frederick (“Fred”) Bernard Roessler.  They married in 1921 and relocated from Los Angeles to the developing planned community of Palos Verdes Estates.

Edna, dissatisfied with the California public schools, fortuitously met Margaret Chadwick, who was homeschooling her children for the same reason.  Edna convinced Margaret to educate her two children as well. When Ms. Chadwick was able to open a school, the Roessler’s donated $140,000 for three buildings. In addition, Edna offered her (unpaid) time for administrative work to help make the school a success, and served for many years as one of its board members. 

In addition to her pursuits for adequate education on the Peninsula, she was an honorary member of the Palos Verdes Woman’s Club, the Peninsula Committee for the Philharmonic, and an honorary chairwoman of the Beautification Committee for Palos Verdes Estates, among other organizations.  

In an interview with the PV News in 1967, Edna, ever so humble, said, “There isn’t anything to write about me. I was just Fred’s wife and right behind him in everything he did.”  With Edna’s support, Fred made contributions to the community that can not be overstated.  It was Fred with other civic leaders who spearheaded the efforts to save the rural atmosphere of the area and further encroachment of the metropolitan area, which culminated in the incorporation of Palos Verdes Estates as a city in 1939.  At the time, cityhood was controversial, with a vote of 206 for incorporation and 203 against.  The incorporation of the city set the tone for the development of the whole Peninsula with the remaining three cities following suit with the same objectives.  Fred further served as the first mayor of Palos Verdes Estates, and continued serving as mayor for 25 years.  He was also a longtime member of the Board of Directors for the Palos Verdes Homes Association. 

Shying away from political controversy, Edna fiercely supported her husband and almost all civil organizations and benefits. The family home on Via Coronel was the scene of many social and civic functions for over thirty years. 

After a long and distinguished life of service to the community, Edna Roessler, the “First Lady of Palos Verdes” as she was known, died in 1987 at the age of 92. 

The seaside pool on Paseo del Mar was renamed “Roessler Pool” in their honor.

Marilyn G. Ryan
1932 - 2008
Marilyn Ryan, 1973.
(Palos Verdes Library District Local History Collection, Rancho Palos Verdes 4th City accession)
 

Marilyn Grams was born in South Dakota in 1932. She moved with her parents to Southern California where she graduated from Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. Marilyn attended both El Camino College and California State University at Dominguez Hills.  

In 1951, she married James Ryan, a teacher who eventually became a principal of Miraleste High School.  The couple settled in the unincorporated area of the Palos Verdes Peninsula and raised two daughters. 

Marilyn’s political life began in the 1960’s when she joined the League of Women Voters, serving as Palos Verdes Chapter President for two years. During this time, she grew concerned about land use issues, particularly along the coastline. Plans by developers to double the density along the coast building high-rise, high-occupancy units came to light. Without local government control, there would be no way to stop it.

Marilyn was a community spokesperson before the County Board of Supervisors’ Regional Planning Committee and Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCO) from 1969 to 1972.  She was also a community leader in the passage of Proposition 20, the Coastal protection initiative in 1972.  

As a founding member of the “Save Our Coastline” effort, Marilyn and a group of dedicated, like-minded volunteers began the work of incorporation.  This process took four years of struggle which finally resulted in the City of Rancho Palos Verdes, the 4th city on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Marilyn was elected the first mayor of the new city in 1973, and served in that office until 1976. 

In 1976, she ran for the California State Assembly where she served for six years. Her greatest efforts while there were directed to prevent oil drilling off the Palos Verdes Peninsula coast. Later, when asked why she pursued a political career, Marilyn answered,”You have to be optimistic about the process and believe in it. And I do.”

After being defeated for reelection in the 1982 primary, Marilyn was appointed Director of the California Arts Council by then governor George Deukmejian. In 1985, she retired from public life due to severe rheumatoid arthritis, but continued working for several years as a political consultant.

Marilyn Ryan passed away in 2008 aged 75 years.

The UCLA Oral History Program has an extensive interview with Marilyn Ryan as part of a California state government oral history project.

You can access the interview using: California State Archives Minerva catalog.  

Click on 'Search the Catalog' and enter "Marilyn Ryan" (with quotation marks) for 'Keyword'. On the results page, click on 'Oral History Interview with Marilyn Ryan'.  The audio file will open in a new window. 

Peggy Schnetzler
1891 - 1968
Peggy Schnetzler, ca 1967. 
(Palos Verdes Social Review, February 1967)
 

Margaret “Peggy” Bates was born in New York City in 1891 to socially prominent parents. She was educated in New York and Paris, and became known for her fluent French. After her debut into society she married a well-known lawn tennis player and they had three daughters. Upon his untimely death, Peggy was left with three small children to raise. Her parents had relocated to Southern California, so with many misgivings about moving to such a “hick” part of the country, she reluctantly joined them.

While in California, Peggy met and married Stanley Schnetzler, a Navy Commander with service in both World Wars. He was also a published author, and became a beloved stepfather to the three girls.

Living in Redondo Beach, Peggy learned the La Venta Inn was for sale. This Palos Verdes Estates landmark had been built in 1923 on three hillside acres by the Palos Verdes Corporation. It had suffered neglect and decay during the Depression and the war, and was no longer a working Inn. Peggy thought it would be a wonderful family home. 

The Schnetzlers moved in and began the extensive repair and renovations needed to make the Inn a livable home. Its location and ambience made it a hub of community activities on the Peninsula. Peggy received requests from friends to hold social events such as teas and weddings at the La Venta Inn as it was still called. It became very popular thanks to Peggy and her skills as a hostess. “I never did learn how to cook from my mother but I sure did learn how to entertain," she once said. So in 1951, the Inn resumed its life as a hospitality venue. 

By 1967, Peggy leased the Inn to others to operate and moved to a house in Palos Verdes Estates. She will be remembered always as the “grande dame” who brought life back to the La Venta Inn. It is still owned and leased by her heirs. The La Venta Inn was designated a California Historic Resource by the California state Office of Historic Preservation in 1990.

Peggy died aged 77 in 1968.

Minerva Stump
1898 - 1986

Minerva had a unique window on the Peninsula as it grew from a rural enclave to the modern metropolitan center it quickly became. Her oral history with the Local History Center sheds light on the early life of a yet unknown Palos Verdes. 

Minerva Stump was born in Tustin, California, in 1898. Her father leased 100 acres in Lunada Bay from the Bixby family to establish a dry farming (an agricultural practice using only rainfall) and cattle grazing operation under a crop-lease arrangement. In 1911, Minerva’s father built a house with running water and a wood stove but no electricity, using lumber brought by pack mules over a rugged trail from San Pedro.

Crops which were “dry-farmed” included lima beans, pinto beans, black-eyed peas and garbanzo beans.  Barley was grown by this method also, using a steam threshing machine pulled up the hillsides by over 30 mules to harvest the crop. Bean crops had to be cut and dried on days without fog, then hand-picked to remove small rocks.

When the family arrived, Lunada Bay had never been farmed. Wild mustard plants grew 12 to 14 feet high, with three foot stems. Minerva’s brothers harvested the mustard seeds by shaking the plants, then sold them. The family maintained barnyard animals for eggs, milk and  meat. They also enjoyed the abundant cactus fruit growing wild.

A family excursion involved riding mules bareback to “Fisherman’s Cove” (Lunada Bay) where abalone were plentiful. However, Minerva lived on the farm only during summer. While school was in session, she and her siblings lived with their mother in Redondo Beach.

Farmhands who helped out on the Stump farm were paid a wage of $1 per day, with meals and lodging included (they had to supply their own bedding). In busy harvest times there would be up to 30 workers, but in winter this dropped to two to four men. Food was hearty and plentiful; beans every day, cooked cereal, bacon or ham and eggs, biscuits, canned fruit, etc. There was a telephone, coal oil lamps for light but no ice.

By 1913, surveyors arrived and life changed for the Stumps. The Vanderlip family bought the land from the Bixbys. Minerva’s father continued his farming and grazing but had to move uphill because the richer soil of Lunada Bay was leased to Japanese farmers for more profitable vegetable farming.

Minerva recalled abundant wildlife, including ground squirrels, skunks and coyotes, and many rattlesnakes that inhabited the land. There were also sparrows, hawks, buzzards, and hoot owls. In the spring the area was full of migratory species, such as meadowlarks and bluebirds.

Living in south Redondo all her life, Minerva was also the aunt of Roy McCarrell, Jr., one of the last Peninsula ranchers, who farmed and raised cattle from 1928 to 1954 on the peninsula. 

She died in 1986 aged 88.

 

 

Gemma Taccogna
1923 - 2007
Gemma Taccogna with Mrs. Clark Gable, ca 1972. 
(Palos Verdes Social Review, October 1972)
 

The internationally acclaimed artist Gemma Taccogna was born in Italy in 1923. She always considered herself to be first and foremost a teacher and inspirer of others. “I’m an OK artist," she once observed, ”but I’m one hell of a teacher." Gemma maintained a studio in Malaga Cove Plaza in Palos Verdes Estates for many years, and the tile creations produced there were locally famous.

In her youth, Gemma was a student of Marc Chagall. Her work was exhibited in galleries internationally, and today her works are part of the permanent collection in the Museo del Arte Moderno in Mexico City. Peggy Guggenheim once purchased an entire gallery show by Gemma.

Prior to becoming a fixture in Malaga Cove, Gemma worked as an artist and instructor in Mexico and in other parts of the United States. Her work as artist and designer found such diverse clients as Nina Ricci, Neiman Marcus, Mattel, and Queen Elizabeth II, and Clark Gable’s wife. Noted private collectors of her work included Lyndon Johnson, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Carol Channing, Mary Tyler Moore, among many others.

The personalized ceramic tiles created in Gemma’s studio decorated homes throughout the Peninsula and beyond. Many of her finest designs are contained in a book, Tile Decorating With Gemma published in 1978. 

Even living in a retirement home, Gemma continued to offer art instruction to other residents. A mother of three children and grandmother of four, Gemma died in 2007 at 83 years.

Gemma Taccogna , ca 1972.
(Palos Verdes Social Review, October 1972)
Lillian Throne
1899 - 1996
Lillian Throne, ca 1966.  
(Palos Verdes Social Review, January 1966)
 

Lillian Lindsey was born in Tyler, Texas in 1899. She attended schools in Texas and graduated with a certificate from Waco Business College, arriving on the Peninsula in 1932 when it was home to only 300 people. At first, Lillian worked for the Palos Verdes Homes Association. When the city of Palos Verdes Estates was incorporated in 1939, she served the city as bookkeeper and stenographer.

In 1942, Lillian was appointed Postmistress for the area. She had one and 1/8 employees to start with. Originally, the Post Office for all of the Peninsula area was located next to Moore’s Market in Malaga Cove Plaza.  Residents who lived outside the city limits of Palos Verdes Estates had to pick up their mail. Any mail with a Palos Verdes Estates address was home delivered. By the time she retired in 1969, she managed a full-time staff of over 90, working in two permanent post offices and three rural “stations” offering full home delivery. 

Lillian was legendary for the personalized service she provided residents over her 27 year career as Postmistress. During World War II, residents recalled she often called mothers or wives of service members and say, “Hurry down —- there’s a letter here for you!” She went to extraordinary lengths to track down incomplete, incorrect or temporary addresses.

Despite a demanding work schedule, Lillian was a model of community service. She was President of the Los Angeles County Postmasters Association, Charter President of the Palos Verdes - Redondo Soroptimist Club, Charter Director of the Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce, and Chairman of the Palos Verdes Peninsula March of Dimes for 10 years. 

Along with her service to the March of Dimes, many of Lillian’s service activities were focused on the youth of the community, particularly girls. Her special interest in higher education for girls led to the creation of the Lillian Throne Scholarship for graduating high school seniors. 

As an avid gardener, Lillian was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the South Coast Botanic Garden. She was acknowledged as a good cook, often bringing home cooked items to work. Her holiday dinners were true feasts, and she claimed she could cook a turkey dinner better than anyone.

For her many years of dedicated service to the Peninsula community, above and beyond the call of duty, Lillian was honored with the Citizen of the Year award in 1965 from the Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce, and received the Award of Excellence from the Postmaster General in 1967.

Lillian Throne had one son, raised in the Valmonte area of Palos Verdes Estates.  After over 65 years as a Peninsula resident, she died in 1996 at the age of 96.

Gertrude Robinson Van Every
1889 - 1974
Gertrude Robinson Van Every with her husband and son, ca 1918.
(Palos Verdes Library District Local History Center Photo Collection)
 

Gertrude Robinson was born in 1889 in Arkansas. She was the ninth of twelve children. Her family relocated to Indianapolis, Indiana where she met and married her husband, Lindsay Piere Crawford Van Every in 1912.  They had one son, and the family moved to Venice, California, after their son finished elementary school.

From 1930 until 1963, Gertrude was a successful entrepreneur. She operated a busy restaurant  on Lankershim Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley with her sister Georgiana. As a real estate agent, Gertrude sold properties in the fashionable Hollywood Riviera area for Clifford F. Reid.  He developed and promoted this area as the most exclusive beach areas in Los Angeles County.  Every lot sold enjoyed access to the Hollywood Riviera Beach Club, with its restricted, private beach and other amenities.

Gertrude made many property investments which her family regarded as foolish at the time. However, in the long run, they proved to be advantageous and profitable. Gertrude died in 1974, aged 84 years.

 

Angela “Angi” Ma Wong
1947 - 2015
Angi Ma Wong, ca 1991.
(Palos Verdes Review, September, 1991)
 

Angi Ma was born in Nanjing, China in 1947, the youngest of six children of a struggling family. Her mother was ill and hospitalized and her father worked long hours to provide for his brood. He made the decision to have Angi adopted by a prominent, wealthy family when she was six months old. Her adopted grandfather was mayor of the city, and she was welcomed with joy as the first granddaughter in the family.

After the Communist regime came to power, the Ma family fled to Taiwan. Her new father was a diplomat who served in six different posts while Angi was growing up, including Wellington, New Zealand and Washington, D.C. This cosmopolitan lifestyle and the abundant educational opportunities it afforded shaped her life and career. She didn’t find out she was adopted until 50 years after the fact.

Because Angi was uprooted and relocated so often during her childhood as the daughter of a career diplomat, she developed a special understanding of and empathy for outsiders and minorities. As an adult, she worked to promote unity and understanding between different cultural groups. 

Angi was an active member of the Palos Verdes Rotary Club for over 20 years. She was co-founder and President of the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California. She was an entrepreneur, teacher, author, publisher, intercultural consultant and renowned Feng Shui expert.  She was involved in education, counseling and public relations with the Los Angeles Unified School District for over 15 years.  All her efforts were focused on bringing people together and creating mutual understanding. 

She appeared on TV on the Oprah Show, Live With Regis and Kelly, and CBS Sunday Morning, and was profiled in Time magazine. For her humanitarian activities, Angi received awards from the State of California and the City of Los Angeles.         

Among her proudest accomplishments was raising her four children with her husband Norman, and being a 26 year cancer survivor. Her family and many friends praised her generosity, zest for life and sincerity. She died in 2015 at the age of 68. 

 

Inez Milholland
1886 - 1916

Inez Milholland died in Los Angeles in 1916 while campaigning for a women’s right to vote. She stood on the stage, raised one and cried, 
“Mr President, how long must women wait for liberty?”. Then, she fell down in a faint and was rushed to a hospital where she died of pernicious anemia.

She had started campaigning for a women’s right to vote at Vassar College. Denied the right to hold a suffrage meeting on campus, she held the meeting in a graveyard across the street and got written up in the New York Times, the first of many articles on her exploits.

Inez led the first suffrage parade down Fifth Avenue riding on a white horse. She also led a suffrage parade in Washington DC. Famous for her beauty and her fiery reformist nature, she became a lawyer in the New York City and helped women get divorces while also working for prison reform.

The National Women’s Party sent Inez west in 1916 to campaign against Woodrow Wilson who had not helped women obtain the vote. Her death at 30 years of age energized suffragettes who worked tirelessly until they finally obtained the vote in 1920…one hundred years ago. 

- Jean Shriver, Niece of Inez Milholland

This entry was contributed by a community member. If you would like to contribute a short biography for this exhibit, please fill out this form: https://pvlibrary.wufoo.com/forms/q1tzig2t0m8aekd/

Frances Young
1900 - 1976
Frances Young, ca 1963.
 

Born on February 9, 1900 in Memphis, Tennessee, to parents who owned and operated a botanic nursery, Frances M. Young dedicated her life to preserving the South Bay’s natural beauty. Frances lived in Hermosa Beach for 42 years and was the district director of California Garden Clubs & Horticulture Societies. In 1958, after a long, exhausting trip across Los Angeles to visit the County Arboretum in Arcadia, Frances had the idea to create a local botanic garden for the South Bay. 

Frances enlisted the support of the Los Angeles County Department of Arboreta and Botanic Gardens to help transform the landfill on the Palos Verdes Peninsula into a botanical oasis. On March 1, 1960 the county’s board of supervisors officially designated “Landfill No. 1” as the South Coast Botanic Garden. The first trees were planted on April 20 during the Garden’s dedication with an estimated 200 people in attendance. The South Coast Botanic Garden Foundation received its charter a year later with Frances as founding president, a role in which she helped plant and maintain the Garden, and raised funds to increase staffing and infrastructure that has allowed the Garden to remain open for more than 60 years. Frances remained president for 10 years before retiring.

In her personal life, she was a wife and mother to one daughter. She enjoyed gardening in her own home and would often invite people on tours of her garden, sometimes with up to 30 people at a time. Frances died when she was 76 years old, but South Coast Botanic Garden remains an oasis for the community on the Palos Verdes Peninsula and beyond. 

- Stephanie Morino, South Coast Botanic Garden

This entry was contributed by a community member. If you would like to contribute a short biography for this exhibit, please fill out this form: https://pvlibrary.wufoo.com/forms/q1tzig2t0m8aekd/