(Editor’s note: Shirley Haggstrom, a former chair of the Pacific Palisades Community Council, delivered this tribute at the Temescal Canyon Association annual meeting on Nov. 29.)
By Shirley Haggstrom
Special to the Palisades News
In the early 1970s, I volunteered to be a parent driver for my son’s elementary class field trip. We turned off Sunset and went clear to the end of Evans Road. There we entered a wilderness area that I now know joins Will Rogers State Historic Park. There was a canopy of magnificent huge oak trees, plants of all kinds, animals, birds, insects, butterflies, a stream, a tree house and Ethel Haydon. It was her back yard, and she enthralled the children with stories of everything that was there, including the animals that come at night, and even threw in a little history.
When our community lost Ethel in mid-October, I told my son I had lost a friend and said, “You may remember her.”
“Of course I remember Ethel,” he said. “And I got to meet her as an adult. She was a nice lady.” And she was. Little did I know that we would become friends and fellow TCA Board members!
There is not enough time to give a complete biography of Ethel, so I will concentrate on a few of her contributions that have been so important to our community. Ethel was in the forefront of the formation of several groups and she remained with them, adding her expertise year after year. She was the president and founder of the Will Rogers Area Cooperative Association Inc. She and Winston Salser founded the Los Liones Arboretum Foundation from which the Los Leones Gateway Park has risen.
When the Palisades Branch Library received Bicentennial funds to “research, collect, and preserve local histories,” Ethel was instrumental in the birth of the Pacific Palisades Historical Society in 1972. She was president from 1973-74 and remained a vital contributing member of our Board. Also that year Ethel was a founding member and treasurer of TCA, which prevented what is now known as Temescal Gateway Park from becoming a golf driving range. When she found she couldn’t make it to our board meetings, she asked if she could be available by telephone.
Ethel was the guardian of our community and diseminator of historical stories and facts for years and years. It is called institutional memory, the importance of which seems to be underestimated these days. Ethel sowed the seeds of TCA and stayed on to tend the young organization even after it grew into the impressive organization it is today. I am honored to try to carry on in her tradition.