Lois Neil-Sambar, a prominent local educator and philanthropist, died Tuesday at her home in La Cañada Flintridge. She was 76.
The cause of death was cancer, her husband Chuck Sambar said.
Born on October 30, 1934 in Hoboken, New Jersey, Neil-Sambar graduated as valedictorian of her high school class before earning her bachelor’s degree in history at Colby College in Maine, and her master’s degree in education at Cal State Los Angeles.
She worked as a substitute teacher at Glendale Unified before being hired full-time in 1971, teaching English and journalism at Hoover High School. She later served as an assistant principal at Clark Junior High School and Glendale High School, and in 1988 was promoted to principal at Rosemont Middle School.
Neil-Sambar headed the La Crescenta campus while completing her doctorate in education at the University of La Verne. Under her leadership, it was named a California State Distinguished School in 1990 and 1994, and a National Blue Ribbon School in 1993.
Her career in education paralleled her family life, which included a 39-year marriage to her first husband, William Neil Jr., and two sons.
After retiring as Glendale Unified director of secondary education in 1996, Neil-Sambar continued to teach and advise with the education programs at Chapman University, University of La Verne and Occidental College. She was also active with numerous education and civic organizations, including Glendale Healthy Kids and the Verdugo Mental Health Board of Directors.
In 2001, she was named “Woman of the Year” by the Crescenta Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Following her first husband’s death, Neil-Sambar in 2002 married Chuck Sambar, himself a long-time Glendale educator and school board member. Together, they ran the Glendale Scholarship Endowment Fund, a nonprofit that provides scholarships to local high school graduates pursuing higher education.
In addition to her second husband, Neil-Sambar is survived by sons William and Richard Neil, and granddaughters Lori and Lisa Neil.
A funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Oct. 22 at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Montrose. A reception will take place immediately thereafter at the Oakmont Country Club in Glendale.