Pacific Palisades residents, 90 and older, were given special recognition on Friday when the Woman’s Club held a hybrid celebration on Zoom and members delivered a gift package to every elder who responded to the party invitation.
This annual event, which is usually celebrated at the Woman’s Clubhouse in June, was led by club president Kathy Dunbar Later, past president Robin Weitz and 90th Birthday Party organizer Fay Vahdani.
“We didn’t want our elders to think we didn’t care about them,” said Vahdani, president of Luxe Homecare, who has organized the event for nine years. The party was not held in 2019 and 2020 because of the pandemic.
Notices went out to past attendees and other elders to contact Vahdani, so that a different kind of celebration could be held before Thanksgiving. “We had 83 recipients this year, but there are more than 190 residents over 90 years old in the Palisades,” Vahdani said.
June Capp, who turned 107 in May, was crowned the oldest female responding to a party invitation. She still lives in her home on Toyopa (with her daughter Dixie), and when Woman’s Club organizers rang the doorbell, they were welcomed in.
“I’m very happy you stopped by,” June said. When asked her secret to a long life, she answered, “Tomorrow is going to be a good day.”
The oldest participating male was George Coleman, 96, who was dubbed “King George.” The American Legion member had a law practice in Santa Monica and has lived in the Palisades with his wife, Shirley, for 42 years. He beat out Dr. Mike Martini, who had a pediatric office in town (1954-1996), by just five days.
Irving and Sarah Moskovitz received kudos for having the longest marriage–an impressive 74 years. They are each 94 and have lived in the Palisades since 1968. Second were Dick (RZ) Meyer and his wife, Carrie, who have been married 55 years. RZ, the former senior pastor at Palisades Lutheran Church, is 94 and Carrie 90.
“This tradition started in 1996 in Dr. Margaret Jones-Kanaar’s backyard on Via de la Paz,” said keynote speaker Bill Bruns, who attended the first party as editor of the Palisadian-Post. “She was celebrating her 92nd birthday and wanted to have a big party. So, we ran a story in the Post, inviting all the town’s 90-year-olds, and about 30 showed up. Honorary Mayor Eddie Albert was the guest speaker.”
Jones-Kanaar hosted the lunch for two more years before the Junior Women’s Club took over and eventually the Woman’s Club.
Bruns noted that the Woman’s Club, which began as the Pacific Palisades Woman’s forum in 1925, was the oldest surviving organization in town. “I like the club’s motto: ‘Let Something Good Be Said,’ Bruns observed. “We should all remember that when we’re posting anything on social media.”
Looking back 90 years to 1931, Bruns noted that the Palisades was still a small, isolated community, with only about 375 homes and just 1,000 residents. “The Depression was starting to take a toll, but everybody cheered when the new Palisades Elementary School building was dedicated on June 12, replacing the four temporary frame structures on Via de la Paz.”
In national news that year, Bruns reported, “Alka Seltzer was introduced, and the Dick Tracy comic strip debuted. Al Capone was convicted on tax fraud charges and sentenced to 11 years in Alcatraz and Las Vegas, a small town in the Nevada desert, voted to legalize gambling. Also, the Star-Spangled Banner was officially adopted as the National Anthem. The No. 1 radio song was ‘Minnie the Moocher’ by Cab Calloway and his Cotton Club orchestra, but my favorite song title in 1931 was ‘When Yuba Plays the Rumba on the Tuba.'”
Thanks to generous support from Ronald Reagan American Legion Post 283, this year’s honorees received a meal (delivered to their door), catered by K Bakery. Owner Kim Kedeshian is a former Junior Women’s Club president. Each elder was given a chicken pot pie, pumpkin bread and soup. They also received a 90th Birthday Club coffee mug (with a cupcake inside) and birthday cards created by kindergarten students at Seven Arrows Elementary.
Those who joined in the early evening Zoom presentation were entertained by Woman’s Club members Lyn Gardner, who played the ukulele, and Kat Holland, who sang popular songs.
Afterwards, President Later sent out an email thanking her key organizers. She wrote, “Fay, you are so gracious and caring. The event tonight showed your true love of our seniors, who they are and how they are part of our community!” And Robin, “You gave so many hours to organize, orchestrate and make this event so special.’”
Special thanks were given to all the Woman’s Club members who dropped off the food and gifts at homes across the Palisades, including Kit Festa, Marla Seto, Judy Grosh, Margaux Glaser, Linda Andrews, Susan Denness, K.C. Soll, Marla Seto, Kat Holland, Haldis Toppel, Gina Jakel and Vahdani.