Community: At 107, Patrons Club honoree is an inspiration

The Patrons Club's annual fashion show and luncheon carries the theme “Planting Seeds through Education” and no one exemplifies that thought more than the woman who will be honored during the event on Nov. 1.

Receiving the Woman of Distinction will be Gertrude Ness, who remarkably still drives and continues to participate in philanthropic endeavors at the awesome age of 107.

Proceeds from the event, which will be held at the Castaway restaurant in Burbank, will go toward scholarships and grants-in-aid for Glendale Community College students. Coordinating plans are members of the Patrons Club of the Glendale College Foundation.

A member of the Patrons since 1969, Ness continues to attend meetings and has modeled in the annual fashion show. She always gets a standing ovation as she travels down the runway.

“I am honored by all the recognitions I've received since I turned 100 years old, but I'm extra pleased to accept this very special award from the Patrons Club while I'm still alive,” Ness said.

“I've particularly enjoyed modeling at these annual events and being escorted down the runway by Paul Schlossman and other handsome young men from the college, including Dean Davitt,” she added, referring to John Davitt, retired president and superintendent of the school as well as a retired dean.

Ness has been diligently soliciting neighbors for donations for Glendale College students since she became a member, said Patrons Club President Carolyn Payne.

“She comes to each meeting, is an active participant and up until the year before last has been a model for the fashion show,” Payne said. “She has been a truly inspirational woman and a woman to be respected and loved.”

Born April 22, 1906, in Milroy, Minn., she spent her youth on a farm. After two years at a state teachers college, she taught third grade, after-school band and orchestras and a rhythm band that turned into a prize-winning youth drum and bugle corps sponsored by the American Legion.

Upon moving to Burbank in 1941, she worked for Lockheed Vega riveting bomb bay doors on the B17s.
“She was ‘Gertie, the riveter,'” her daughter, Jo Ness, quipped.

Gertrude began her career with the Glendale Unified School District in 1944 in what was then called “child care.” She continued in early childhood education for 30 years, 20 of those as director. All the while, she promoted arts education for her students.

In addition to serving as president of the California Child Care Supervisors Assn. in the late 1960s, she was involved in the Women's Committee of Glendale Symphony Orchestra, Altrusa Club of Glendale and the Women's Civic League, as well as playing percussion and serving as librarian of the Valley Symphony Orchestra.

Retiring from Glendale Unified in 1973, she then held offices, sometimes as president, of Glendale Coordinating Council, Glendale YWCA's board of directors, Sons of Norway, Glendale Republican Women Federated and AARP.

She still occasionally attends meetings of the Glendale College Patrons Club, Glendale Beautiful, California Retired Teachers Assn. and Sons of Norway's Edvard Grieg Lodge.

She served in numerous offices and on calling committees of a number of these organizations, and on a historical research committee for the Glendale YWCA several years ago. She is also a longtime, loyal Lakers fan and still watches the games on TV.

She attributes her longevity to several things: she had plentiful healthy food on the farm, never drank or smoked, worked with children, music and kept busy in her retirement years. She has two daughters, three granddaughters and two great-grandchildren, who keep her going.

Gertrude Ness also has an “adopted family” who live next door and check on her each morning and throughout the day, Jo Ness said.

“She may very well be the oldest resident of Glendale – and lives in her own house,” she added.

In addition to fashions by Holiday Hats and Gowns in Montrose and Men's Wearhouse of Glendale, there will be many prizes, including a $1,000 prize as well as silent and live auctions.

Tickets and more information are available from Margaret Dickson at (818) 424-9177. The reservation deadline is Oct. 21. The cost is $55 per ticket.


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at

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