This column came about when I met Florence Virgallito at an event in Montrose. She asked if I knew about the Pat Navolanic Memorial Award at Glendale High.
I’ve lived In Glendale more than 30 years now, but as I told Virgallito, my daughters attended Hoover High and I wasn’t very familiar with Glendale High.
So she told me about the award, one of the most prestigious honors bestowed on a Glendale High senior. Each year, alumni of the Class of 1963 attend the award ceremony.
Now I was curious. Virgallito put me in touch with a classmate, George Mason, who provided a link to a Glendale High website.
Here’s a condensed version of that website: Identical twins Peter and Pat Navolanic set the standard for leadership and on- and off-campus involvement. Pat Navolanic was elected sophomore class president and the brothers each served a semester as Associated Student Body president during their senior year.
They were brilliant students and gifted athletes, receiving letters in track, basketball and football. Both achieved the high honor of Eagle Scout and were inducted into the Order of the Arrow.
Pat Navolanic took the most challenging classes at Glendale High and never earned less than an “A.” He won many awards during his senior year, including the Seymour Memorial Award, recognizing the most outstanding high school student in the state of California. He is the only student in Glendale High’s more than 100-year history to win that honor.
Pat Navolanic received a four-year scholarship to Stanford University. There, he became fascinated with French customs and people. Stanford had a campus south of Paris, so he signed up to spend a year studying abroad.
It was in France, during the 1965 Christmas holidays, that he died. His death was blamed on a gas leak from a faulty heater.
Pat Navolanic’s untimely death at the age of 20 was front-page news in the Glendale News-Press. On campus, members of the National Honor Society, determined to keep the memory of this exceptional person alive, established a scholarship in his name. Now, once a year since 1966, students and alumni gather to remember Pat Navolanic and recognize the spirit of this truly inspirational young man.
Mason, who now lives in the Bay area, later emailed me.
“What I remember most is his brilliant smile — lighting up whatever room or space he happened to occupy. I can still hear his laugh — boisterous and infectious; and even now, 50 years later, I clearly recall his voice, brimming with enthusiasm and vigor. Yet, what made even casual contact with Pat so remarkable was this: When he focused his attention on you, his sincerity and unrestrained vitality made you feel like you were the most important person in the world at that moment.”
At the most recent awards ceremony, held this last May, Mason said they had the biggest turnout ever by the Class of 1963 (about 40 classmates). They were drawn to the event by the class' 50th reunion.
“It was a moving tribute to Pat's memory and legacy,” Mason said.
So, thanks Florence, for telling me about Pat Navolanic, a brilliant student who left a remarkable legacy
John Hammell Jr, wrote regarding two early film stars who made Glendale their home: Harrison Ford and Louise Dresser.
“Regarding Harrison Ford, the silent version of ‘Maytime’ (Clara Bow's first film, I believe) was thought to be lost until a “nitrate” copy was located in New Zealand a couple of years ago. Harrison Ford apparently plays two different parts in the film. Last I heard, it is still being restored. It will be great to see it when it becomes available. I recently suggested to the Alex Film Society that they should consider having a night of films featuring both Louise Dresser and the first Harrison Ford. Hopefully, they will consider my suggestion.’’
If you have questions, comments or memories to share, please write to Katherine Yamada/Verdugo Views in care of the Glendale News-Press, 202 W. First St., 2nd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, address and phone number.