Community: Longtime Glendale altruist approaches 106

Gertrude Ness will celebrate her 106th birthday on April 22. She was born in 1906, and has lived in Glendale and Burbank since the early 1940s.

She continues membership in four organizations — the Patrons Club, Sons of Norway, California Retired Teachers Assn. and Glendale Beautiful.

Born in Milroy, Minn., Ness grew up on a farm and attended Minnesota State Teachers College for two years. She taught third grade, after-school band, orchestras and took a youth rhythm band to a prize-winning youth drum and bugle corps that performed throughout Minnesota from 1928 to 1941.

She and her husband, Peder, moved to Glendale in 1941. From 1943 to 1944, she worked at the Lockheed Vega plant in Burbank on B-17 bombers riveting the bombay doors, she said.

Ness started her 30-year career in child care in 1944 with the Glendale Unified School District. In the late 1960s, she served as president of the California Child Care Supervisors Assn. She retired from the school district in 1973.

She is most proud of being the supervisor of the Glendale district's nursery school program for children whose mothers had to go to work while they're fathers served during World War II, she said.

Throughout her time in Glendale she has served on the Glendale Coordinating Council, Glendale YWCA Board of Directors, the Women's Committee of the Glendale Symphony Orchestra Assn., Altrusa Club of Glendale and the Women's Civic League, as well as playing percussion and serving as librarian of the Valley Symphony Orchestra.

Burton and Ahluwalia exchange vows

Alasdair and Carol Ann Burton of Glendale have announced the wedding of their daughter, Caitriana Elizabeth Mary Burton, to Pranay Ahluwalia, son of Ashok and Madhu Ahluwalia of Delhi, India.

Caitriana is a 2000 graduate of Marlborough School and a 2004 graduate of Columbia University in New York City. She received her master's from the University of Bristol, England. She works for the British government in their tax and excise ministry as a senior statistician in London.

Pranay received his bachelor's degree in India, then went to the University of Glasgow for his master's in finance. He is employed as a finance analyst for the Royal Bank of Scotland in London.

Caitriana and Pranay married on Dec. 18, at Taplow Court in the suburbs of London. A West Coast reception was held at the home of the bride on March 17. The couple now live in London.

Soroptimists give accolades

Soroptimist International of Glendale presented two women and one high school girl with awards at its annual Accolades Awards Luncheon on March 22.

Sarah Watson, of Glendale, was recognized with the Soroptimist Ruby Award: for Women Helping Women. Watson volunteered at the Good Shepherd Domestic Violence Shelter in Los Angeles, where she assessed the women's skills and helped them with career exploration. This enables them to get jobs and support themselves and their children. At the Irwindale WorkSource Center, Watson helps high school girls who are on probation, in foster care, and/or have learning disabilities to graduate from high school and go on to college.

Kristine Seuylemezian, a junior at La Cañada High School, received the Violet Richardson Award. This award comes with matching cash grants for the recipient and for the charity where she volunteers her time. Kristine is a member of Troop 2001 of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. For her Gold Award Project, she built the Garden of Hope in front of the cancer center at Glendale Adventist Medical Center. Her motivation was her grandmother, who survived breast cancer. Kristine, who has been a Girl Scout since she was 5, took a barren patch of ground and created a peaceful outdoor space for patients like her grandmother to rest after their treatment.

Liliana Gonzales, a full-time student at East Los Angeles Community College, received the Women's Opportunity Award, which includes a cash grant. The award is given to a woman who is the primary financial supporter for her family and is pursuing an education. Gonzales strives to improve her capacity to provide for her five children, who range from ages 9 to 20. Her eventual goal is to become a social worker. A year and a half ago Liliana was a stay-at-home mother. All that changed in September 2010, when her husband was killed while visiting his relatives in Mexico. She says that her children motivated her to make the best of her situation and enroll in college at age 38.

JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at rudolphjoyce10@gmail.com.

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