Community: Gertrude Ness, 107, is a highlight at luncheon

The theme for the Patrons Club's luncheon was never more apropos — “Planting Seeds Through Education,” as proceeds go to Glendale Community College student scholarships and grants-in-aid.

College Superintendent and President David Viar said the organization’s purpose is clear — “People who are supporting, championing or protecting.”

“Patrons members are supporting students seeking to achieve their educational goals, championing an outstanding community college that serves its community and region with distinction, and protecting the mission and vision and values of a community college education,” Viar said.

More than 250 supporters happily filled the Starlight Room of Burbank's Castaway restaurant on Friday afternoon. They gave a standing ovation as longtime member Gertrude Ness, looking much younger than 107, received the Woman of Distinction honor.

Guests also bid in silent and live auctions and sat back to watch a dazzling show of fashions from Holiday Hats & Gowns modeled by friends of the college.

The main dish of filet mignon tips over penne was complemented by carrots and broccoli. For dessert — tiramisu cake — ahhh, divine!

Patrons president Carolyn Payne looked like a model herself, sporting a sophisticated black-and-white ensemble. Chairwoman Marianne Jennings and her committee dreamed up lots of ways to take home prizes.

Grand-prize winner of $1,000 was Danna Rountree of Glendale. Live auction winners were Denise Neale, scoring Angels tickets; Samir Abourass, rebounding a Lakers game; Kim Holland, catching a Dodgers game next season; and Tawny Welch, celebrating the new year at the Rose Parade.

Former college superintendent John Davitt watched with pride as his wife, Gael, modeled stunning styles on the runway. Others looking equally smashing were Nancy Greene, Tamara Hughes, J.C. Moore, Erin Kurasz, Margaux Corsini, Heather Glenn and Sadot Aziskhanova. Moore's royal blue evening gown with a thigh-revealing slit was a show-stopper.

Their dapper escorts were Henan Joof, Austin Kemei, Samir Abou-Rass and Alen Andriassian. Each added a touch of comic relief.

The college’s scholarship program bestows about $300,000 each year to 500 students, making it among the largest in the community college system, said Paul Schlossman, dean of student affairs. He attributes the program's success to the many partnerships with civic organizations, area businesses and community members.

“One of our longest standing partnerships is the one that we have with the Patrons Club and, as Carolyn Payne said, they have been doing their work for 66 years,” Schlossman said.

The money donated by the Patrons is raised primarily at the fashion show luncheon each year, he added.

“This financial support the Patrons provided totaled more than $25,000 in 2012-2013, so we are hoping to do even more this year,” he said.

Schlossman introduced honoree Ness and spoke about her many accomplishments.

Ness received certificates from Mayor Dave Weaver, Rep. Adam Schiff, Assemblyman Mike Gatto and Supervisor Michael Antonovich. Ness' family members attending were daughters Jo Ness and Dianne DeGeer and granddaughters Lynda and Susan Kagel and Amy DeGeer.

“I want to thank all the organizations and you people who put this on,” Ness said. “I would hate to have to miss this. I enjoyed today and I hope you do, too, so thank you for coming and thank you for all the honors that you have given me.”


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be contacted at

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World