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Jean Hubbard, 83; Headed Pasadena Council on Alcoholism

Times Staff Writer

Jean Bond Hubbard, who raised public awareness about alcohol abuse during her 13-year tenure as executive director of the Pasadena Council on Alcoholism, has died. She was 83.

Hubbard died July 28 of congestive heart failure and emphysema at her home in Pasadena, said her nephew Scott Sherrill. A longtime smoker, she had been in failing health for some time.

When Hubbard took the post at the Pasadena Council in 1969, she was a recovering alcoholic and prescription drug abuser, which she talked about openly to various audiences around Southern California. She also talked candidly about her alcoholism in a 1970 article in the Los Angeles Times.

Then known as Jean Vandervoort, she told The Times that she went from being an up-and-coming executive in the fashion business to an 82-pound wreck strapped in a hospital bed suffering from delirium tremens and convulsions.

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“I never wanted a drink in my entire life,” she said in The Times article. “I wanted a drunk.”

But by the early 1960s, she was sober and on the road to recovery. And by 1969, she had worked in the medical field, attended university programs on alcohol abuse and drug dependency, and was ready for the challenge of changing public perceptions on alcoholism.

At the Pasadena Council -- whose mission statement is to “help individuals, families and communities affected by alcohol and other drug problems” -- she talked to families about the nature of the disease and offered referrals for treatment options.

Over the years, she also established programs aimed at various segments of the community. One of the efforts -- the Sunset Program -- was directed at helping the elderly because Hubbard was distressed at what she called “the warehousing of senior citizens with drinking problems.” The Sunrise Program was aimed at informing children and teenagers.

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One of her most successful ventures was an alcohol awareness course for nursing students at Pasadena City College. The program brought experts in the field, including recovering alcoholics and drug abusers, into the classroom to discuss the causes and conditions that lead to substance problems as well as treatment options.

This program -- which was started in 1973 and continued until 1984 -- eventually moved off campus. It was replaced by “The Awareness Hour,” a series of monthly programs presented by the Pasadena Council on Alcoholism, the Center for Occupational Health, Huntington Hospital and the Fuller Theological Seminary.

“She was an outstanding educator and really grew the public’s understanding of alcoholism and drug addiction,” said Linda Williams, the executive director of what is now called the Pasadena Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependency.

The daughter of a pharmaceutical executive, Hubbard was born in Muskogee, Okla., and raised in the Boston area and Southern California. Admitted to Wellesley College, she dropped out to marry a naval officer, who, like herself, had a drinking problem.

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They moved to Southern California after World War II, but the marriage ended in divorce. A second marriage to another problem drinker ended in divorce as well. She married a third time, in her sober years, but that marriage ended after seven years with the death of her husband.

Friends recalled Hubbard as a strong-willed, vivacious woman with a throaty laugh. They also noted that she remained passionate about alcohol education during her 42 years of recovery.

“She never got into shame” about her past, Pat Sanora told The Times. “She dressed to the nines and looked like she stepped off the cover of Vogue.”

In addition to her nephew, she is survived by her sister LaVerne Hawkinson of San Luis Obispo, and another nephew, Randall Hawkinson of King City, Calif.

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Funeral services are scheduled for 3 p.m. today in the Sunrise Chapel at Mountain View Cemetery, 2400 N. Fair Oaks Ave., in Altadena.


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