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Life and Arts

The Valley Line: Half century of giving to others marked by LC Juniors

La Cañada Junior Women’s Club
Valley Sun columnist Jane Napier Neely, founder of the La Cañada Junior Women’s Club receives a hug during the organization’s 50th Anniversary Luncheon and Reunion held at the Thursday Club.
(James Carbone)

Superlatives were flying around on Saturday, Oct. 12, when the La Cañada Junior Women’s Club held a 50th anniversary luncheon at the La Cañada Thursday Clubhouse.

I heard words including “beautiful,” “unforgettable,” “amazing,” “touching,” “memorable” and “magical” being uttered all around me. Indeed it absolutely was all those things and it was a thrill to be part of 90-plus Juniors in attendance who have given so much of their time to this organization. I was so honored to be recognized as the founder of the organization by these wonderful women.

Three of the other charter members from our 1969 club year were there last Saturday too. Standing to be recognized for their pioneering spirit were Katy Sadler, Kay Davis and Becky Gelhaar.

La Cañada Junior Women’s Club
Past and current presidents of the La Cañada Junior Women’s Club gather for a historic photograph during the club’s 50th Anniversary Luncheon and Reunion on Oct. 12
(James Carbone)
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It truly was a grand day of celebration, remembrances and excitement about the organization’s past accomplishments and the beginning of the next 50 years for this group, whose mission has been — and will continue to be — in support of the community in a myriad of ways.

The color scheme for the day was white and gold. The guests walked past a bubbling fountain where large white dahlias were floating. Gold and white balloons marked the entrance into the patio where past and present Junior members met to share the stories of their club projects throughout the years.

La Cañada Junior Women’s Club
Becky Gelhaar, left, Jane Napier Neely, Katy Sadler and Kay Davis, pose for a picture during the La Cañada Junior Women’s Club 50th Anniversary Luncheon and Reunion at the La Cañada Thursday Club.
(James Carbone)

It was so evident that the friendships established by working together on club projects have created a bond of sisterhood that has withstood the passing of time.

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It was especially wonderful to see 20 of the “old” Juniors from the years 1969 to 1979 reunite to not only see each other again but to also meet many new members of the group.

Among some the early club members in attendance were Pam Carney, Nancy Hughes, Jackie Manning, Charlotte Rubendall, Roz Hilton, Marilyn Cavanaugh, Dottie Hazel, Maxine White, Karen Spalding, Mary Herrgesell, Connie McAllister, Brenda Macumber, Nina Ratliff, Cheryl Rider and Jan DiBias.

Jill Chapman, current president of the Juniors, welcomed the guests and told the history of the club since its beginning.

She then introduced Brenda Gant who was the chairman of the committee that created such an outstanding celebration.

La Cañada Junior Women’s Club
The La Cañada Junior Women’s Club Luncheon Committee gather for a historic photograph during the La Canada Junior Women’s Club 50th Anniversary Luncheon and Reunion
(James Carbone)

Serving on the committee helping to make this day so wonderful were Karen Nichols, Kelly Chamberlain and her husband, Paul, who was the oarty’s official photographer, Kyle Grimes, Elizabeth Landswick, Trina Mor, Jane Owen, Rima Addams, Lisa Foster, Trish McRae, Alice Perez, Georgina Mueller, Analily Park, Jenny Pass, Vanesa Wittenberg and Tracey Nelson.

La Cañada Junior Women’s Club
Jane Napier Neely receives a letter of recognition from Senator Anthony J. Portantino presented by David Kim during the La Cañada Junior Women’s Club 50th Anniversary Luncheon and Reunion Oct. 12.
(James Carbone)

A very special time of the gathering came when honorary certificates were presented by reps of area elected officials. David Kim, a dedicated and well-spoken district representative for state Sen. Anthony Portantino, presented a resolution on Portantino’s behalf that was beautifully framed in gold. Christian Daly, staff assistant to county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, 5th Supervisorial District, also presented a colorful certificate and spoke poignantly about the need for more love to be shared in our nation and how evident it was with the women who were present. Theresa Lamb Simpson, district representative for Rep. Adam Schiff, 28th Congressional District was also present.

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While guests were enjoying the buffet luncheon prepared by Gourmet-A-Go-Go they watched a video that had been produced by the creative team led by the Juniors’ 4oth year president, Nina Browning. Later in the program, a 50th anniversary video created by Lisa Foster was shown.

Karen Nichols, who also played an integral part in the 40th anniversary, served as a spirited emcee as she interviewed several members representing different years of Junior history. An especially poignant memory was given by Jeanie Kay, 2001 president, who talked about going to New York after the events of 9/11 and taking part in ceremonies held at the World Trade Center on behalf of the nation-wide Junior organization.

La Cañada Junior Women’s Club
Ladies attend the La Cañada Junior Women’s Club 50th Anniversary Luncheon and Reunion at the La Cañada Thursday Club on Saturday, Oct. 12.
(James Carbone)

The 50th anniversary celebration was certainly a memorable occasion experienced by members past and present, as well as provisional members who will become members of the organization. There were hugs all around and tears shared too this day. Several of the women traveled some distance to celebrate the occasion: Jackie Manning flew in from Tucson; Nina Browning and Jill Sayre flew in from Dallas, and Nancy Hempstead traveled from her home in Virginia.

I was so touched to be presented with a gold charm that had been made by Jane Owen, a talented jeweler and longtime Junior member who was president of the club 2005-2006. The charm is designed with the Juniors’ oak tree symbol, with the cut-out letters of LCJWC (La Cañada Junior Women’s Club) the back of the charm is engraved with the number 50. It is a gift I will cherish, just as I treasure the many friendships and memories I began building in 1969.

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