CCHS honors hardworking individuals
in their commitment to history - 2003
Once a year the Conference of
California Historical Societies attempts to find some of these individuals
and pay them public homage with a special award. This year’s awardees once
again astonished membership with their accomplishments.
Sister Helen Carmody, St. Vincent
Medical Center Historical Conservancy, Los Angeles. Although Sister
Helen Carmody, a Daughter of Charity, passed away in October 2002 at age 95,
this award is given to honor her and her great efforts in preserving a part
of our history. The award was accepted in her name by Sister Mary Kennedy.
Sister Helen was the person most
responsible for saving many historical records documenting the history of
Los Angeles’ first hospital, now known as St. Vincent Medical Center. She
was a dietitian working there about 40 years before her passing. When
workers were cleaning and were tossing out photographs, minute books and
other documents, some going back to the mid-19th century, she stopped them
and made sure these materials were saved. These included descriptions of the
original building and facts related to epidemics of smallpox in 1886 and
typhoid fever in 1902 and 1905.
Through her efforts and the Hospital Auxiliary, the hospital established the
St. Vincent Medical Center Historical Conservancy in 1995. The collection
went from being stored in a small room to a 2000-square-foot area that
includes a preservation workroom, expanded storage space, a research room
and a sizable exhibition space. This may be one of only two fully
operational hospital museum/archives on the west coast.
She also had the foresight to put away her habit and cornette (original
headpiece) when they were to be turned in for the more modern outfits.
Thirty years later, this habit and cornette are proudly displayed by the
conservancy in her honor and is one of the few originals still in existence.
Her foresight and efforts have made it possible for both the casual visitor
and the serious researcher to gain a comprehensive grasp of the health care
contributions of an institution that is now in its 147th year. She is a
great example of the need for all of us to be on the watch to prevent the
destruction of our heritage.
Dr. Munson A. Kwok, Chinese Historical Society of Southern California.
A past president of this society, Dr. Kwok has served as a board member for
several years. Even though he has a busy professional life as a senior
scientist at a Southern California aerospace firm, Dr. Kwok has also found
time to volunteer in the Chinese American community and Los Angeles
Chinatown. He is currently National Secretary of Chinese American Citizens
Alliance, a century-plus civil and immigrant rights organization.
Dr. Kwok is also currently on the
citizens’ advisory committee to the California State Parks Commission,
advising on the Cornfields-Taylor Yard development program, L.A. River
project. He is presently devoting much time as an active board member of the
Friends of the Chinese American Museum. The new Chinese American Museum is
scheduled to open Winter of 2003 in the historic Garnier Building. Due to
the energetic efforts of Dr. Kwok and Howard Quon, a founding donors program
was established in December 1985. He has worked many years to help preserve
and share the rich Chinese history of the Los Angeles area.
J. Putnam Henck, Rim of the World Historical Society. Mr. Henck has
been a faithful supporter and active member of this society since its
beginnings in 1986. He has given donations, led and attended tours and
supported the museum. His family was one of the pioneering families on the
San Bernardino Mountains, including Skyforest and the Lake Arrowhead area,
and his life and work have been intertwined with its history. He has a
tremendous knowledge of the area, making him an invaluable resource of its
Mr. Henck wrote the book Memories of
Putnam Henck, subtitled Plus a Little Bit of History, to help answer
questions about the history of this area. In 2001 he was recognized as
Citizen of the Year by the Lake Arrowhead Chamber of Commerce. The chamber’s
visitor center has been named the J. Putnam Henck Visitor Center. Thanks to
his efforts we have a much richer and more accurate understanding on this
area’s history. The award was accepted in his behalf by John Swisher.
Leonard R. (Bud) Utter, Historical
Society of Centinela Valley. Bud joined this society in 1977 and became
a life member in 1984. He has served as president of the society for 16
years. He not only presided over the Board of Directors and other meetings
but served as total manager of the facility, which includes the 1834
Centinela Adobe, the Daniel Freeman Land Office and the Walter Haskell
Heritage Center. He has taken on the chair duties for three annual area
events, the Fiesta in September, the Barbecue in spring and the Luminaries
Celebration in December.
Henry Welcome, Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society. Founding
president and program chair of this society, Henry was also its longtime
newsletter editor. He passed away in March of this year, and this award is
given to honor his memory. His daughters Kristina Moore and Susan Ikenberry
accepted the award in his name.
Henry was involved in the creation of two
museums, which unfortunately closed, but he continued to work on the
reorganization of the collection. With his wife Betty he produced a very
useful short history of Eagle Rock. Considered to be the leading authority
on Eagle Rock history, Henry gave a number of talks on the community’s
heritage to various historical groups. A founding member of the Chinese
Historical Society of Southern California, Henry was very active in
promoting the heritage of Chinese Americans.
John W. Robinson, Author. John has made a tremendous contribution to
our knowledge of much of the Southern California area with the many books
that he has written. The research and physical study of the areas he covered
is very extensive.
He is an active hiker, backpacker and mountain climber — reflected in his
books. These include Trails of the Angeles, San Bernardino Mountain Trails,
Mines of the San Gabriels, Mines of the San Bernardinos, The San Gabriels,
The San Bernardinos, The San Jacintos, Sierra Madre’s Old Mountain Wilson
Trail, Southern California’s First Railroad, Los Angeles in Civil War Days
and Camping and Climbing in Baja, California.
John managed to find the time for all
this between teaching for 32 years and being active in several historical
organizations. He has recorded and preserved much of the history that was
being lost through vandals, housing growth and the forces of nature. We
thank him for saving and sharing that information with us through his books.
Mary Huff, Author. Mary is the author of the book Grandma Ann, a
story of her great-grandmother as told by her grandmother, Mary Proctor.
This involved considerable research, particularly through family records.
Although the story had been told in a writing called Our Pioneer Mother by
Lenora J. MacDonald, Mary was able to include much more personal
information. This story tells of the Johnson family traveling from Iowa to
Utah where they helped establish Salt Lake and Cedar City. They then, around
1862, moved on to Santa Clarita Valley and ended up settling in the west San
Thanks to Mary’s efforts we have a better
picture of the ways of life and places of an earlier time in the valley. She
is an inspiration to others, encouraging them to share their family
histories and increase our knowledge of our community history.
William (Bill) Roberts, San Pedro Bay Historical Society. As a
retired building contractor and carpenter, Bill Roberts put his talents and
energy to work, as project manager and worker, to help restore the society’s
Muller House. His wife Nan and other volunteers assisted him in the work on
the upstairs rooms by rebuilding kitchen cabinets, relocating a cupboard
from the kitchen to the bathroom and remodeling a large display cabinet in
the downstairs bedroom which is now an exhibit showcase. He also discovered
an ingenious way to complete the frieze work left out below the hip of the
As a member of the Cabrillo Beach Bath
House Preservation and Restoration Committee, Bill also helped with the Bath
House restoration. It is now completely restored, providing meeting space
for multiple community activities. He has also served on the society’s board
of directors and is a member of the San Fernando and 29 Palms historical
societies. He is also on the Point Fermin Lighthouse Committee, which is
currently restoring that facility. Bill has proven to be a real asset when
it comes to restoring our historical resources in the San Pedro area. The
award was accepted in his behalf by Mitch Mardesich, who is the society’s
Nan Roberts, San Pedro Bay Historical Society. Nan Roberts worked
alongside her husband to help restore the society’s Muller House. She
scraped, sanded and painted the walls and woodwork in practically every room
of the house. She has continued as chair of Muller House activities,
overseeing all the details for a variety of events. She also arranges for
cleaning, maintenance and gardening personnel and decorates the tables for
the functions held there.
She has worked in a variety of other
positions including secretary, vice president, membership committee chair
and president of the San Pedro Bay Historical Society. She is currently a
member of the society’s board of directors and is on the Visions committee.
She also represents the society on the Cabrillo Beach House Coordinating
Nan has not only been a major force in
helping to get the Muller House restored but is continuing to see that it is
kept up and enjoyed by so many people in the community. The award was
accepted in her behalf by Mitch Mardesich.
Edith Reber, Pioneer Cemetery, Sylmar. Edith deserves this award for
her many years of effort in preserving the Pioneer Cemetery at Sylmar (Los
Angeles County). Since 1958, as a member of the Native Daughters of the
Golden West, and later as a member and Pioneer Cemetery Chairman of the
Sylmar Chamber of Commerce, she has worked to beautify and preserve the site
and its history. It was first dedicated in 1892 and is the second oldest
cemetery in the San Fernando Valley. In 1959 the Native Daughters were given
title to the land to restore as a memorial cemetery. The cemetery gained
state historical status and California Marker #753 was dedicated in 1961. In
2002 the Native Daughters relinquished title to the land to the San Fernando
Valley Historical Society.
Although it took many years to raise
money and fight the battle back from vandalism and earthquakes, Edith Reber
was at the forefront for over 43 years. Thanks largely to her efforts, the
cemetery is a beautiful 3.8-acre site, well cared for with trees, shrubs,
flowers and walkways, as well as the markers for the people buried there.
This award — in memory of Gladys Waddingham and Joe Doctor — honors
individuals who have served their history community for a quarter century or
Lila Lee, Mendocino County Historical Society. Lila has been very
active in the preservation and sharing of Mendocino County history for well
over 25 years. She was instrumental in helping to get the Grace Hudson home,
now the Sun House, as a museum in Ukiah.
When it was in good hands, she was able
to focus her attention on the Held-Poage home, also in Ukiah, which, thanks
to her efforts, was given to the Mendocino County Historical Society for use
as a library and museum. Over the years she spent many, many hours updating
the records, answering questions and helping researchers. She and her
volunteers keep records of newspapers back to pioneer days. She has
willingly shared her personal collections and many of her items can also be
found in the Mendocino County Museum in Willits.
Her many years of collecting, preserving
and sharing Mendocino County history have not gone unnoticed. In 1994 she
was named “Citizen of the Year” by the Greater Ukiah Chamber of Commerce. In
2001 the California Genealogical Alliance presented her with the
Distinguished Service Award for her outstanding service to CSGA, a member
society in the local community.
Lila is a real dynamo and a great
treasure to all who may have an interest in Northern California history. In
her spare(?) time she also served for several years as the CCHS Regional
Vice President for Lake and Mendocino Counties. The award was accepted in
her behalf by Al Minard.
Lenore J. Clark, Lake County Historical Society. Lenore has been a
member of this society since she moved to Lake County in 1973 and is now a
life member. She and her husband set up, printed and mailed the Pomo
Bulletin quarterly for many years. She also served as secretary for the
society for several years. She continued to keep track of history and type
the Pomo Bulletin until 2000 when her eyesight became troublesome. This is
true dedication to her society and the sharing of history. The award was
accepted in her behalf by Al Minard.
Arthur A. Almeida, San Pedro Bay Historical Society. Art Almeida is a
charter member of this society and has given consistent and outstanding
service to the society for the past 28 years. He served as president for 10
years and has also held the position of vice president, director of the
board, parliamentarian and historian.
Art is an outstanding authority on labor
and union history and has written and lectured on Los Angeles/San Pedro
Harbor history. He co-authored four books, contributed to the Shoreline, the
society quarterly, moderated various tours and programs, assisted in
distribution of books to local schools and served on or chaired numerous
committees. He chaired the committee that oversaw the erection of the
California State Liberty Hill Monument and wrote the state proposal papers.
He helped found Wilmington Historical Society.
A major project for Art was getting the
Muller House and the land for the society and serving as the first project
manager. He has devoted much time and energy to several aspects of getting,
restoring and maintaining this house and serving as a docent.
He also found time to be active with the Associated Historical Societies of
Los Angeles County and the Conference of California Historical Societies (CCHS).
In his 18 years with CCHS he has been president, vice president and a
co-regional vice president. Art is a real dynamo and a great example to us
of how much a person can accomplish.
Wanda Wolf, Lake County Historical Society. Wanda has been a member
of this society since 1972 and a life member since 1981. During that time
she has been a board member for many years, a dedicated treasurer and
membership chairman. She has worked on the distribution of the Pomo
Bulletin, the society’s magazine, and has been in charge of the selecting,
ordering and selling of history books for the society.
Wanda has attended many of the CCHS
conferences, bringing back information for society members. She is a
treasure to the Lake County Historical Society for her many years of
faithful work in the preservation and sharing of Lake County’s history. The
award was accepted in her behalf by Al Minard.
Outstanding CCHS Regional Vice President
Arlene Hartin, Region 1 Vice President (Redwood Empire — Del Norte and
Each year the First Vice President, who
also serves as chair of the Regional Vice President’s Council and
coordinator of the Regional Vice Presidents, presents the Vice Presidential
Award to that RVP who has rendered outstanding service in performing the
duties of his or her office during the past year.
Also known as the Outstanding RVP of the
Year award, the award this year went to Arlene Hartin. She and her Redwood
Empire team were responsible for the 2002 Fall CCHS Symposium held in
Eureka. The symposium was well planned, informative and entertaining and has
been considered one of the best by many CCHS attendees.
Knowing the territory comes easily to
Arlene. She was born and raised in Eureka as were her parents and one
grandmother. A graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Arlene
retired from CALTRANS in 2001 after 35 years working in the personnel
department. Arlene and her husband Bill have been married for 42 years and
have one son who is a software engineer.
As a member of the Humboldt County
Historical Society since 1960, Arlene has served as secretary and treasurer
and currently is a permanent board member. She has been an active RVP for
Region 1 for several years and regularly reaches out to the community by
giving living history demonstrations and slide shows and has conducted tours
of local historic sites.
Arlene was unable to attend the CCHS
Annual Meeting and the award was accepted in her behalf by Christina Essex.
President's Award for Special Assistance
Guy Ball, CCHS Webmaster. In presenting the 2003 Presidential Award
of the year, President Rick Wilkerson stated: “The Conference of California
Historical Societies provides the opportunity for the president each year to
recognize the outstanding achievement of an individual who has assisted the
president in special projects. Each year it is pretty tough because a lot of
people have come forward and are very, very helpful to the president in
helping to execute his duties. This year it was a no-brainer for me. Along
came a young man in January to assist us in a very special project for your
benefit, and we now have a website listed as www.californiahistorian.com.
We began constructing the site in January and now it is ready to go, ready
to improve and ready for use by all of us. The name of this fellow is Guy
Ball. Guy lives in Tustin and has two sons. He is a technical writer with
the Unisys Corporation, he’s an educator, an author, an editor and a
collector of vintage electronics and historical ephemera. Guy provided high
standards and exceptional service to the CCHS in developing the website and
we couldn’t have gone forward without him.”
The president then presented Mr. Ball
with a plaque on which was inscribed: “The Conference of California
Historical Societies hereby and by these presents recognizes Mr. Guy Ball
for outstanding achievements during 2003, constructing
www.californiahistorian.com, and presents him with the President’s Award,
given this 28th day of June 2003 at Van Nuys, California.”
Guy is a long-time executive board member
of the Santa Ana Historical Preservation Society and webmaster of their