The family of Norma Gardiner LeValley, who passed passed away on July 22, 2017, has donated her extensive, impressive personal book collection, including many dozens of rare local history titles, to the South Pasadena Public Library and the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library. Before her peaceful passing, Norma gave so much of her time, talents, and energy to South Pasadena, where she resided for more than 55 years. Norma was a self-professed ‘bookaholic’ and wrote hundreds of stories and editorials for the “South Pasadena Review” for which she worked for more than 20 years. She had a very gentle interviewing style that helped her subjects open up to her and her stories sparkled with insights.
According to an autobiography provided by her family, Norma was “brought up” in Upstate New York and attended the University of Buffalo where she married a medical student. The young couple moved to San Francisco for his new job at the Letterman Army Hospital on the Presidio. After transferring to Alaska, and then on to Kentucky, the pair made it back to Northern California before purchasing a “For Sale By Owner” house in South Pasadena in 1962.
Norma returned to college after a 17-year absence and earned a Journalism degree at Cal State LA. She was appointed to both the Preservation Foundation and the Library Board of Trustees, for whom she wrote publicity for three years. Norma then went to work for the “South Pasadena Review” and was soon chosen to become its editor. She became the first female president of the South Pasadena Kiwanis Club and assumed the post of Editorial Coordinator for the “Quarterly Magazine” for whom she wrote many incisive, knowledgeable features about local happenings and history. In doing so, her keen interest and strong zeal for all things ‘South Pasadena’ deepened even further.
Norma worked devotedly with an impressive array of local organizations, including the South Pasadena Health and Safety Commission, the Tournament of Roses Parade Committee, the Natural Resources Commission, the Police Department, the PTA, the Girl Scouts, the TreePeople, the Huntington Westerners, and the American Association of University Woman, and many others. While doing so, Norma also helped the City acquire its official Tree City USA designation. Characteristically, she also served as a board member of South Pasadena Beautiful, the “Relay for Life” walkathon, and coordinated Arbor Day programs for children at the Library. In addition, Norma penned her own book for kids entitled “A Tree For Me”.
LeValley was in “Who’s Who of American Women” and was presented with the “Older American’s Recognition Award by the 5th Supervisorial District of LA County, but still considered her recognition as “Citizen of the Year” in South Pasadena in 2006 to be her favorite honor.
Norma is survived by her two daughters, Lisa LeValley and Nancy LeValley Vos, and their supportive partners, John Harmon and son-in-law Douglas Vos, as well as her two grandchildren, McLean Goldwhite (22 years) and Zachary Vos (13 years). Donations in her honor may be made to the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library.