Norma Gardiner LeValley passed away peacefully on July 22, with family, friends and a small menagerie at her side. Norma resided in South Pasadena for 55 years, during which time she contributed immeasurably to the community. Raised in Corning, New York, Norma lived briefly in San Francisco and Alaska before settling in South Pasadena in 1962.
Norma enjoyed working for the South Pasadena Review for more than 20 years, as both a staff writer and an editor, and served as editorial coordinator for the Quarterly Magazine for many years. Her editorials were infused with her deep connection to the community, her insight on controversial topics, and her quick wit.
One of her proudest moments was being named “South Pasadena Review Citizen of the Year” in 2006.
Norma loved and appreciated nature and its restorative power, and was particularly passionate about trees. She volunteered for the organization, Tree People, and also wrote a children’s book, entitled “A Tree for Me.” While serving on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, she took pleasure in meticulously inventorying all of the remarkable trees in South Pasadena, enabling the City to be recognized by the Arbor Day Foundation as a “Tree City USA.”
Norma volunteered tirelessly with various organizations, and served on the boards of the South Pasadena Library, South Pasadena Preservation Foundation, and South Pasadena Beautiful. She was a member of the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, the South Pasadena Health & Safety Commission, the Tournament of Roses Committee, and the Huntington Westerners. She was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Parent Teacher Association Honorary Service Award for her volunteer work at Monterey Hills School and a South Pasadena Police Department Special Recognition Award in 1992. Additionally, she was named Kiwanianne Outstanding Woman in 1993. Norma was the second woman invited to join the local Kiwanis Club, and eventually became the Club’s first woman president. She was active in the organization’s scholarship award program, and instigated the donation of a new bicycle each year to students in each of the three local elementary schools.
A consummate “bookaholic,” she read and accumulated as many books as possible on topics as diverse as the mythology of trees, women in the Gold Rush, and Pasadena-area history. She was happy to be a member of the Calvary Presbyterian Church.
Awards and accomplishments aside, Norma’s greatest legacy is her kindness, humor and generosity. Whether she was bringing luscious apples to her co-workers, stopping by the Police station with a cake, or handing a cool soda to the trash collector, she thought only of what she could do to help others.
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 adoring grandchildren, McLean Goldwhite (22) and Zachary Vos (13). Those interested in attending Norma’s Celebration of Life on the morning of Saturday, August 12, are welcome to e-mail her family at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any remembrances you want to share with the family can also be sent to that address.
Donations may be made in her memory to the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, 1100 Oxley St., South Pasadena, CA 91030 (checks made out to Friends of SPPL).