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Mary Lois Nevins

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icon December 6, 1924 - May 25, 2015 Mary Lois Nevins (née Minton) died peacefully at her home at the age of 90 on May 25 after multiple strokes. She was preceded in death by her husband Richard Nevins, a former member of the California State Board of Equalization. Born on December 6, 1924 in Garden City, New York, Mary Lois spent her childhood on Long Island. During World War II her father, Henry Miller Minton, was a lieutenant colonel in the Army Air Corps stationed at the Santa Ana Army Airbase in California. Mary Lois and her family moved with her father to Newport Beach for the duration of the war. She is a graduate of Westover School and Vassar College, where she studied chemistry. In 1946, Mary Lois married Richard Nevins and the couple moved to Pasadena, where their three sons, Richard, William, and Henry were born and raised. Mary Lois was a devoted and loving wife and mother. Along with her husband, Mary Lois was active in Democratic Party politics, including volunteer work for the Altadena-Pasadena Young Democrats, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Club, the California Young Democrats, the California Democratic Council, the League of Women Voters, and the National Women's Political Caucus of Greater Pasadena. Her sons remember walking precincts with her for Adlai Stevenson (1956) and Pat Brown (1958). Mary Lois's interest in Democratic Party politics continued. She walked precincts through the 1990s, served as a monitor at the polling place in her precinct, and enthusiastically supported candidates for local and national office, including Congressman Adam Schiff and Congresswoman Judy Chu, who previously served on the Board of Equalization holding the same seat which Richard Nevins held for 28 years. Mary Lois was on the Hillary Clinton bandwagon for the 2016 presidential campaign, eager to see the first Democratic woman candidate in her lifetime. In 1964, after her sons had left home for boarding school and college, Mary Lois enrolled at Los Angeles State College to obtain a teaching credential. She did her student teaching in 1965 at Markham Junior High and Jordan High in South East Los Angeles, and then went on to teach reading, writing and arithmetic to at-risk children at The Episcopal Home for Children (now known as Hillsides) for 18 years. She founded the Tutor-Friend Volunteer program, which brings together the young residents of Hillsides with Pasadena area high school and college students. After retiring from Hillsides in 1986, Mary Lois continued her interest in early childhood education and with disadvantaged youth. In 1990 she was invited to join the board of Pacific Oaks College, becoming Chair before retiring from the Pacific Oaks Board in 1997. Mary Lois was a practical, gentle and strong woman who could appeal to all constituents within Pacific Oaks, mediate between fellow board members, faculty and staff, and move important programs forward. She was well known and loved in the Pacific Oaks community. Mary Lois was also very interested in the Mothers' Club Family Learning Center serving as the President of the Board from 1988 to 1992. Mary Lois was a pioneer in promoting the concept of two generation learning. She recognized, from her work as a teacher of troubled youngsters at Hillsides, that the first years of a child's life are critical to a healthy future, and that it is equally important to educate and support the child's mother during these crucial early years. Using her many political and social connections she increased the visibility of Mothers' Club and brought in new supporters and donors. She remained a generous supporter and booster of Mothers' Club through the years. Her lead gift in 2006 made possible the creation of the Mothers' Club Family Learning Center on North Fair Oaks Ave, which has become a nationally recognized model for two generation family learning. Mary Lois remained active throughout her life. Her grandchildren enjoyed their many family vacations and holidays together. They have fond memories of spending time with their grandmother bodysurfing at St. Malo, baking cookies at her home on Bradford St, or going on trail rides at the Elkhorn Ranch in Montana. Up until a few weeks ago, she took tennis lessons from Vladimir Pavlow and regularly attended the morning water aerobics class at the Valley Hunt Club; all the while attending meetings of her weekly French Club and participating in the English Speaking Union, the League of Women Voters, and the Pasadena Women's Political Caucus. She was loved for her remarkable empathy, fun-loving nature, her generous heart, and her relentlessly positive outlook. Mary Lois will be missed by her entire family, and her many friends. She is survived by her sons, Richard, William and Henry; daughters-in-law, Sharon, Adele, and Nanette; grandchildren, Sarah, Katharine, Richard, Kasey, Austin, and Wynn; by her siblings -- Hatheway Hasler, Helen Farley, and Dwight Minton; her sisters-in-law, Katharine Schwarzenbach, Louisa Miller, and Dorothy Scully; 39 nieces and nephews, 61 great nieces and nephews, and 6 great-great nieces and nephews. The family is grateful the effort by Mary Lois's primary care doctor, Jeffery Denham and the loving support of her caregivers and household staff over the past 5 years, Carlos Jimenez, Magda Martinez, Sandra Serrano, Anabel Villacorta, Elba Monroy, Lorraine Grissom, Ronald Grissom, and Letti Quiroga. A memorial service will be held at the All Saints Episcopal Church at noon on 24 June, followed by a reception (also at All Saints Church). In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Mothers' Club Family Learning Center at 980 North Fair Oaks Avenue Pasadena, CA 91103.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on June 3, 2015
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