Golden Sparkplug Winner John Steadman

John Steadman continues his efforts to make the community a better place by replacing a fence. Photo: Tripp Nassour

Deserves Another Award for His Bluff Fence

John Steadman, who won a 2018 Golden Sparkplug for cleaning up areas of the town — the long stretch of landscaping along Swarthmore by Palisades Elementary and then the street and park at Via de las Olas bluffs — has completed another community service project: repairing a broken fence on the bluffs.

A neighbor sent Circling the News an email stating, “Some feel- good news about our beloved neighbor John Steadman, who took it upon himself to replace the fallen down fence at the end of Via de la Paz.”

Buying the materials and donating his labor, Steadman took action when it was needed, but it wasn’t the first time. He did not complain about the problem, but rather just resolved it.

He and his wife Caroline have lived on Swarthmore since 1969. He met his wife of 47 years at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where she was majoring in home economics. “For every minute we returned a girl late [to the dormitory], we had to give her one rose,” said Steadman, who claims he never had to give her more than a few.

Caroline, the daughter of the late long-time resident Kay Drake, attended Palisades Elementary in the 1950s. She had a gift shop in Valencia that she closed in 2008, during the economic downturn.

After graduating in 1966, Steadman worked for Douglas Aircraft and it wasn’t long before Drake, who taught tennis and was responsible for having the tennis center built at the Recreation Center, convinced the couple to purchase a home in the Palisades. They found a two-bedroom home near the bluffs and moved in the “day of the landing on the moon.”

In 1975, Steadman started Keystone Air Conditioning Company and then worked for various school districts, including LAUSD.

After he retired, he was looking for ways to make a difference when he saw that the perimeter of Palisades Elementary was strewn with trash. This was 2014, and in an earlier story, he told the CTN editor that his initial idea was to get the school district to clean up the hillside. But, rather than fighting the bureaucracy, he just decided to do it himself.

“Someone asked me if I worked for the school: I said ‘no,’” Steadman recalled. “People thanked me for cleaning the place up and making it look nice.”

Now, years later, residents who go to the bluffs park to watch the sunset notice that its free of trash – thanks to Steadman’s latest volunteer efforts.

“When an area is cleaned up, people work harder to keep it that way,” Steadman said in an earlier interview.

The couple has three children–Todd, Jeanne Marie (“Sugar”) and Trevor.

If you see Steadman on the bluffs, thank him for the fence and his efforts to keep the litter picked up.

The broken fence was removed and replaced with a new one by John Steadman.
          Photo: Tripp Nassour

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3 Responses to Golden Sparkplug Winner John Steadman

  1. Marge Gold says:

    John is indeed amazing. He sees something that needs to be done and just does it!!
    Our community is a better place because of him.

  2. John Have Steadman says:

    I would like to mention that I had some help on this project. My very good friend, Leo Madnick came down several days to help out. And several of the neighbors offered donations to offset some of the cost for materials even though we never asked. The best part of doing a project like this is you meet some wonderful people who are part of this neighborhood.

  3. Sue says:


    You’re the best!


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