About 150 residents joined honorees, Rotary Club dignities and P.R.I.D.E. members to dedicate a town clock on January 28. The four-sided clock is located at the corner of Swarthmore Avenue and Sunset Boulevard, on property leased by U.S. Bank.
One of the town’s long-time and notable residents, Sam Lagana, served as emcee (he also serves as the stadium voice of the Rams football team).
“Last time there was a gathering at this corner, People Magazine was in town to hear President Reagan speak,” Lagana said, remembering it was about 1980 and it was a send off for Reagan, who lived in Pacific Palisades. He said there was a banner over Sunset wishing Reagan best wishes.
“Today we are here to honor three different people who have had an impact on our community, Arnie Wishnick, Robert Wilson and Richard Wahlgren,” Lagana said. “The clock has four sides: it shows where we’ve come from and where we’re going. This is a place we can call a town center.
“People dream how they can make the town better,” he said. “P.R.I.D.E. and this design have made the town a little nicer.”
Lagana introduced P.R.I.D.E. President John Padden who said, “We’ve been talking about this project for a long time. We’ve landscaped medians, we’ve placed iron benches around town, but this clock is really special.”
The clock, which was a dream of P.R.I.D.E. member of Sam Rubin, seems to fit perfectly at its location. Padden said that people asked him, “has it been here a long time?”
The clock, manufactured by Electric Time company in Medfield Boston, was placed at its current location in the middle of January.
Rubin was introduced and said, “What a grand day for our Pacific Palisades! My 15-year obsession with installing a town clock has been worth the wait.”
He said it took a Village to raise the funds and to install the clock, and finish the dedication plaque that is on a stone in front of the clock. Rubin thanked the Vard Stephen Hunt Foundation for the use of the property to place the clock and U.S. Bank to allow it on its leased premises.
He thanked the Rotary Club, which donated $10,000 toward the almost $50,000 clock and to John Wilson, a Rotary Club member, who donated $10,000 in the name of his father Robert Wilson, who was largely responsible for building the town.
Lagana said, “Robert, who founded Rotary, also had a huge impact on building this community.”
A prolific architect and builder, Robert designed and constructed buildings in the Marquez Knolls and Palisades Village, including the Bay Theater and about 80 percent of the town’s businesses in the mid-20th century.
Together, the Wilson family built everything on the south side of Antioch between Via and Sunset. Robert and his brother George also created structures along both the north side of Sunset from Swarthmore down to Monument and the stretch of Via de la Paz across from Pali Elementary. Most of the buildings still stand, although the businesses they constructed in the early 1950s on both sides of Swarthmore from Sunset up to Monument have since been replaced.
At the ceremony, John spoke about how there was a field where the Palisades Village now stands and how he had camped there as a youth before buildings went up.
Rubin thanked Helen Wahlgren for her $20,000 donation for her late husband, who had been a town leader. He worked closely with small businesses, real estate developers, and builders in Pacific Palisades and financed many of the developments in the Village.
Richard was a member of the Bel Air Country Club, served as the president of the Optimists Club, and was a member of the Palisades American Legion. He was a member of California Yacht Club
Lagana said, “Richard raised his children here and through banking, he helped people live in Pacific Palisades.”
Helen added, “He loved the community and the honesty of the people.”
The late Arnie Wishnick’s wife Jackie Maduff donated $500 in his memory. Many may remember when Wishnick was the Executive Director of the Chamber of the Commerce, he routinely sent out notices to people in town asking for contributions for the town’s beautification efforts.
Lagana said, “Arnie had a passion for this community, he inspired other Palisadians.”
Maduff added, “He loved the Palisades. He always told people that for the Fourth of July, his responsibility was celebrities and toilets.”
Wishnick volunteered for decades with the Palisades Americanism Parade Association and Palisades P.R.I.D.E., was a member of the Optimist Club and Kehillat Israel, and produced four musicals at Theatre Palisades.
P.R.I.D.E. (Protect and Renew our Identity and Environment) contributed $4,000 for the purchase of the clock and will be responsible for insurance and maintenance.
The ceremony concluded with a toast to the honorees and a thanks to everyone who helped. People lifted glasses of water and sparkling cider and enjoyed pizza and garlic balls provided by Mercedes Pelligrini, owner of Vittorio’s.
Lagana reminded everyone, “If you’re rich, you live in Beverly Hills. If you’re famous, you live in Malibu. If you’re lucky, you live in Pacific Palisades.