No resident has had more impact on youth in Pacific Palisades than Mike Lanning. It was only appropriate that he finally be recognized as Citizen of the Year for his nearly 70 years of devotion of helping to raise generations of ethical young people.
In presenting the award, emcee Sue Koehl said, “He’s helped countless boys in the Palisades, and he could have won this award for many years.”
Since becoming the Scoutmaster of Troop 223 in 1953, Lanning has seen more than 915 boys attain the rank of Eagle Scout–a national record.
In 2020, for the first time, girls were allowed to earn that prestigious award Lanning was at the forefront of welcoming them to the ranks. There are now more than 200 participants in Troop 223G and it is the second largest Girls Troop in the nation. At a ceremony in November at St. Matthew’s Sprague Center, eight girls became Eagle Scouts, which now total 20 from this Troop.
The long-time Palisadian could be described as trustworthy loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent – which is the Scout law, which he embodies.
Born in Indio in 1932, Lanning became a Boy Scout in 1941 and an Eagle Scout in 1947.
When he was accepted at UCLA in 1952, he and several friends started looking for a place to live near campus. One apartment was $85, “which was exorbitant,” Lanning said.
One of his friends knew about a choir camp at the Presbyterian Synod grounds in Temescal Canyon that had cabins. A man in charge told them that if they fixed up a couple of cabins they could live there–for only $15 a month.
Lanning got involved as a Scoutmaster a year later and stayed in the Palisades while completing his undergraduate and law degrees at UCLA.
After graduating, he went into the Army for six months, and then took his first job as an attorney in 1958. “It was in Beverly Hills with one of the brothers of a fellow scoutmaster.”
He eventually met his wife Carol through Scouting, when her two boys signed up. They started dating in 1962 and were married in 1973. The couple have three children, six grandchildren and six great-grandsons.
From 1961 through 1976, Lanning worked in real estate development before setting up his own law practice (Law Offices of Michael K. Lanning, APLC, visit mkl-law.com). He specializes in estate planning and asset protection.
At the ceremony, a table of his co-workers were there to help celebrate this honor. Lanning received laughs when quipped they came because, “I told them there were free drinks.”
He has received numerous Scouting awards including Distinguished Eagle, and regional, council and district awards of merit, Scoutmaster of the Year, the James E. West Society Award and the Americanism Award Honoree (past awardees included Gerald Ford and Bob Hope).
Lanning is active at St. Matthew’s Church, where he served as the Senior Warden. He and Carol were named 2017 Honorary Canons of the Cathedral Center, for long outstanding service to the diocese, its bishops and the Parish.
In a 2019 story, CTN asked him if he had plans for retirement. Then Lanning said that he remembered when he was camping as a Scout. An older Scoutmaster went to take a nap under a tree and died.
“Might not be a bad way to go,” he said, and added, “I have no plans of retiring.”
In a 2014 speech to Eagle Scouts, Lanning said: “First remember to be thankful, it will empower you and help you set aside the small stuff. Second, be opportunistic—the works is full of opportunities, and it is fun to be a leader. And third, remember, when the going gets tough, there is an indefatigable force within you that will take you anywhere you want to go.”
The Pacific Palisades Community Council awards committee got this one right: Lanning was the best and only choice for Citizen of the Year 2022.