Betty Lukas

Trudy Park heard the call to service and she heard it early

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Trudy Park at home on the east side of the hill. Photo by David Fairchild

This charter member of the Peninsula Committee Los Angeles Philharmonic was among about 30 young matrons recruited in 1952 to help a struggling Los Angeles Symphony (its then name) pay its bills.

And she’s been with the Committee ever since, serving as president in 1956-1957, and subsequently filling any tasks she was assigned with the same energy and enthusiasm she brought to those first years. In 1977 she chaired the Committee’s 25th anniversary event.

On Oct. 7, she’ll also be on hand when the current Committee presents the first of two fundraising events: “Music Fair II, Historic Roots—a New Experience,” which will be offered from 1-5 p.m. on the grounds of Chadwick School.

It will feature music with a “broad appeal featuring world-class and local artists,” according to the Committee. Those performing will be Los Angeles Philharmonic principal horn (retired) William Lane; the Los Angeles Cello Quartet; soprano Dr. Jeannie Cobb accompanied by Pat Harpole; Koshin Taiko Drums; Mariachi Tesoro; Jazz Virtuoso Dr. Bobby Rodriguez & Friends, plus Rising Stars Andrew Moses, Isabella Ma, Stephanie Chu & Mini Maestros Trio.

Its second program, “Outreach to the Community,” will be offered from noon-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, on the grounds of the South Coast Botanic Garden, and will showcase young musicians from the Peninsula and South Bay communities.

Current Committee members and the few remaining from those early days will once again apply their indefatigable energies to making money for what they see as those most noble of causes: “to promote youth music education and foster the appreciation of music in the community.”

In recollecting those early days, Trudy noted that the Peninsula Committee first raised funds by “putting on children’s theater performances, such as ‘Snow White’ and ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes,’ and then we followed with tennis tournaments featuring such celebrities as Dinah Shore and Vic Braden.

“We started the Peninsula Music Fair in 1972, and it lasted until 2008,” she noted, adding that parking problems on Academy Hill (locale of Chadwick School) necessitated the move to Palos Verdes High School.

Paging through the nine, hefty scrapbook albums temporarily piled on her dining room table, Trudy stopped occasionally to give special attention to certain newspaper stories and photos that have chronicled the Committee’s successful history.

“Our Committee,” she said, “is the most active of the 22 greater Los Angeles area support groups like ours,” she said with justifiable pride during a leisurely interview in the view-perfect Miraleste home that she and her late husband bought in 1951. “We even picked out the hardware on the cabinets and chose the paint,” she said.

“It was a one-story ranch house, with nary a tree or a bush as far as we could see. The area was barren in those days—except for these little spec homes that were being built.” Now, 51 years later, the mature trees, plants and other landscaping accents embrace the space, and a bountiful mulberry tree provides jars and jars of jam she still makes every year for friends and neighbors. “Years ago I’d call a few friends when the berries were ripe and we’d make great batches of jam. One year we sold enough to give $13,000 to the Red Cross.” To prove her claim, she shared a black-and-white photo to prove it: three laughing, berry-splattered women surrounded by pails of mulberries ready for their transformation.

“Sociability, making a little party of work, is a big part of service,” she observed by way of explaining the bonus satisfaction that comes from being involved in a cause.

She should know. Aside from the Philharmonic Committee, Trudy has worked for many causes. She was a charter member of the National Charity League, Encore, the Needlework Guild and the Assistance League of San Pedro.

“When you’ve been here as long as I, it seems natural to be on the ground floor for lots of things,” she said, as if it committee activities were the obvious thing to do. It was the same when her children, Ann and Stephen, were growing up. “I was involved in all of their activities, too,” she added.

But somewhere in her long-ago-growing-up past in Santa Paula, Trudy was remembering how the Red Cross rescued her community after a terrible flood where the family lost everything. “I was 11,” she said, “and as I looked at the work they did—young as I was–I decided that I’d like to do that, to help people, to do things for others.”

In fact, once out of high school, she set her sights on education and for two years attended what was then Santa Barbara State Teachers’ College, now called UC Santa Barbara. “But times were tough,” she said by way of explaining why she left school to work for a dentist in Ventura. And where, quite accidentally, she met Richard Ward Park, who became her husband in a 1941 ceremony in Montecito.

 

A widow since 1985, Trudy continues to help where she is able. “You do it, because it’s important to your community,” she said.

At 94, Trudy Park seems eminently qualified to make that statement.

Tickets for one or both programs can be obtained at Amuse Music Store in Peninsula Center, at http://pclaphil.org/music-fair-ii/ or by calling 310-318-8166. Chadwick tickets are $45, including appetizers, wine and other beverages; Youth, $10. Botanic Garden tickets are $10; Youth, free. All proceeds will benefit the Los Angeles Philharmonic and music programs at local schools.

 

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