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Clearly, Gardening Feeds His Spirit

By Haley Sawyer
The Review

Photo courtesy Mike Wood
Edwin Tomyoy brings his harvest to the Atwater Village Farmers’ Market every weekend.

Edwin Tomyoy is of Chinese descent, was born in Trinidad and now lives in South Pasadena. He speaks English, Spanish and Cantonese, but can understand bits and pieces of nearly any language. He’s been a teacher, a chef and a solar panel salesman.
At 76, Tomyoy is many things, but above all he is a gardener.
“Maybe 120 containers or so,” said Tomyoy of the size of his home garden. “It’s not huge. It’s a backyard farm using all the space that I have.”
Tomyoy’s garden sits atop a hill in South Pasadena, which, when he looks back on his life, seems worlds away from his birthplace.

Drummer Looks to Snare District 3 Council Seat

Jaz Sawyer

In seeking the District 3 seat on the City Council, local resident Jaz Sawyer hopes to segue into policymaking as his next endeavor.
An accomplished drummer and percussionist in his namesake music genre, Sawyer moved with his wife to South Pasadena six years ago from Oakland, after the San Francisco native added stops in New York City and New Orleans along the way. Sawyer said his work in those cities has given him an idea of the collaboration needed to serve other people.
“What I can bring, I’ve lived in four or five major cities and I’ve worked with all sorts of people,” he said in a phone interview. “I’ve worked in board rooms, the classroom, the bandstand. I think that’s my advantage. When there’s a problem, energy and momentum is important to get things done.”
Having grown up in an environment of activism and advocacy, Sawyer said that when he was in New York, he was compelled to join the housing and homeless programs created by then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg. Sawyer had journeyed to New York to study at the New School, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

AbilityFirst’s Festival of Fall ‘Comes to You’ on Sept. 13

Photo by Erin Rodick / The Review
County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, AbilityFirst board chair Richard Frank and CEO Lori Gangemi were among those who enjoyed the organization’s Festival of Fall fundraiser in 2019. This year’s virtual event will be held on Sunday evening, Sept. 13.

AbilityFirst’s 2020 Festival of Fall “Comes to You” fundraiser, presented by Chubb, is aimed at bringing the spirit of a live food and beverage festival along with a community-centric atmosphere into participants’ homes on Sunday, Sept. 13, at 6 p.m.
This year’s interactive, virtual version of Festival of Fall will include gourmet cuisine prepared by top chefs, including Michael Hung of Los Angeles’ Faith & Flower, Lawry’s the Prime Rib and Gale’s Restaurant in Pasadena. The meals will be paired with a signature cocktail by Nathan Baker from Pasadena’s the Raymond 1886 and specially selected wines, all while raising funds for AbilityFirst programs supporting people with disabilities.

SPUSD Offers Mental Health Care Resources to Students, Families, Employees

South Pasadena Unified School District has selected Care Solace, an organization designed to calm the chaos of mental health-care coordination, to support behavioral and mental referrals for students, families and employees. Care Solace offers a web-based tool that makes it easier to connect with local mental health-care resources and providers.
“School is more than a place to learn. It’s a place where students come to feel embraced, included and supported,” said Dennis LeFevre, SPUSD executive director of Student Support Services. “Especially during times when our families, students and employees are facing unprecedented challenges, we are committed to offering solutions that strengthen the health and safety of our learning community.”

Oneonta Club Program Features Naval Hero

Tom Polansky’s September meeting committee for the Oneonta Club has put together a fascinating program about escaped slave and naval hero William B. Gould. This 90-minute, no-cost virtual event will be Monday, Sept. 14, at 6 p.m.
Gould descendants William Gould IV, the Charles A. Beardsley Professor of Law at Stanford University, and William Gould V, long-time Pasadena resident and an adjunct lecturer at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, have created the presentation. It delves into the life of their remarkable ancestor, who during the Civil War escaped his plantation via a boat down the Cape Fear River, and was picked up by the U.S. Navy.
Leaving one of three Civil War-era slave-written diaries known to be in existence, Gould went on to success as a member of the U.S. Navy from 1862 until the end of the Civil War. The diary vividly records Gould’s activity as part of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron off the coast of North Carolina and Virginia, his visits to New York and Boston, the pursuit to Nova Scotia of a hijacked Confederate cruiser, and service in European waters pursuing Confederate ships constructed in Great Britain and France. William Gould IV and V will weave a spell-binding tale of bravery and strong character under the most trying of times. Gould’s diary is distinguished not only by its details and eloquent tone (often deliberately understated and sardonic), but also by its reflections on war, on race, on race relations in the Navy and on what African Americans might expect after the war.

Youth Year-Round Reading Challenges at the Library

The South Pasadena Public Library is offering three open-ended, year-round reading challenges for children and teens. Participants can sign up anytime. There’s no specific end date and participants can read at their own pace.
Once registered, participants may choose three different challenges based on their age. 1000 Books Before Kindergarten is for children up to 5 years old; Reading Explorers is for children ages 6-12; 100 Books Before College is for teens ages 13-18. Interested participants can register using the Beanstack app for iPhone or Android or through the library’s website.
The South Pasadena Public Library building is currently closed to the public for the health and safety of the community. Library Takeout, a no-contact check-out/pick-up service, is now available. Library Takeout is open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; and closed Sunday.
Information is available on the library website at southpasadenaca.gov/library.

Obituary | Edmund Walter Kiessling

Edmund Walter Kiessling

Ed passed from natural causes at home surrounded by family on Aug. 23, 2020. He was born in Oakland on Aug. 20, 1928, then moved to Pasadena, residing there for 50 years. He graduated from L.A. High in 1946 and received his Master’s in Geology from UCLA in 1958, the same year he mapped Lockwood Valley. Ed served in the Army in the Korean War in addition to being a Naval reservist and worked at the CA Division of Mines and Geology for 39 years. An avid backpacker, he climbed numerous US peaks and local trails and advocated for local history and conservation. Those who knew Ed will vividly remember him for his friendship and character that left a positive impression on all. Ed is survived by sons Ken and John; daughters-in-law Gwendolyn and Jennifer; and grandsons Justin, Ryan, Alexander and Caliph.

Obituary | Idamay Schwimmer

Idamay Schwimmer

Idamay Schwimmer, the only child of Will Lovern Trine and Frances (née Lambert), passed away on July 29, 2020, in South Pasadena. She was 100 years old.
She was born in El Segundo, CA on Dec. 10, 1919. In her youth, Idamay played the violin in a band that John Philip Sousa once guest conducted. She graduated at 16 from George Washington High School. Then, after briefly working as a Navy stenographer in Washington, DC, she continued her education at USC and then UCLA, where she received her A.B. in psychology in 1943.
Idamay raised three kids in South Pasadena. She enjoyed methodically bargaining for rare collectibles at local yard sales, bird-watching, playing the piano, playing bridge with friends, and, most of all, spending quality time with her family. She had a green thumb and once won a South Pasadena Golden Arrow Award. For 14 years, she volunteered at the South Pasadena Public Library.
She is survived by her children, Cathy Pierson, Bill Schwimmer, and Ann Larson (Doug); grandchildren, Jake Pierson, Emily Hausner, Will Larson, and Henry and Elliott Schwimmer; and five great grandchildren. Idamay is preceded in death by her husband of 40 years, Jerome Schwimmer.
Because Idamay described weddings and funerals as “dumb,” no funeral services are planned. She also would have preferred to save money and avoid this obituary altogether, but her family wanted to share her colorful Los Angeles life. Donations in her memory may be made to Planned Parenthood or the Biden Victory Fund.

Religious Leaders Reflect on the Pandemic

Photo by Mitch Lehman / The Review Calvary Presbyterian Church might not be able to invite congregants into the building, but the Rev. Millason Dailey of the Fremont Avenue institution said she nevertheless reaches out to people “whether it be by phone, email, text or Zoom.”

Congregants traditionally look to religious leaders to provide comfort and to help guide them in their search for better spiritual understanding.
That’s why it was interesting to have some of the religious leaders in town share their own insights in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Monsignor Clement Connolly, spiritual adviser at Holy Family Catholic Church, said he only has to take his dog on a walk to see why he should be even more grateful during these times.
“I see people doing things, dining outside. People think: ‘If only we had what we had.’” he said. “We should get down on our knees and be thankful.
“We should never complain about the trivial. We have no idea in normal times how much we have. Now it is gone and we never thought about it.”
The Rev. Sam Park, lead pastor of ReNew United Methodist Church on Monterey Road, said he indeed does realize what he is missing since in-person services ended in March.

Upgrades to Rialto Winding Down

Photo by Mitch Lehman / The Review Renovations to the exterior of South Pasadena’s iconic Rialto Theatre are slated for completion by mid-September, according to the contractor.

Long-awaited upgrades to South Pasadena’s celebrated Rialto Theatre continue to churn toward completion as the landmark structure eyes its 96th birthday.
Since January, workers have busied themselves both inside and out of the 1,200-seat venue, which was built in 1925 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The theater has been used in various capacities, including as a single-screen theater during the silent movie era, a locale for vaudeville acts, the site of a mighty Wurlitzer organ and an occasional on-location filming site. Its recent cameo appearance was in an episode of “Modern Family” (where, ironically but not coincidentally, Phil takes his children back to see a theater undergoing upgrades that he helped build). Locals also recognize the main floor seating from 2016’s award-winning film “La La Land.”
Izek Shomof, a Los Angeles developer who specializes in the revival of historic structures, purchased the Rialto in 2015. Two years later, Shomof Group signed a contract with Mosaic, a multi-campus nondenominational church, which holds a lease for the interior portion of the building while Shomof retained the exterior. The area includes two retail spaces with storefronts on Fair Oaks Avenue. Major upgrades are underway as the pandemic has forced Mosaic to adapt its worship services to an online platform.