Tag Archives: Obitiuary

Noted Magician Robert Gwodz, 86, Dies

Noted close-up magician and long time Burbank resident Robert (Bob) J. Gwodz, 86, died of natural causes on January 28, 2020. A member of The Academy of Magical Arts since its founding in 1963, Gwodz was one of the original performers at the Magic Castle.  In 1970, he was nominated for Best Close-up Magician.

Robert Gwodz

“One of his classic acts involved envelopes,” remarks nephew and amateur magician David La Plante. “A person would sign their name on a plain card, and my uncle would put the card into an envelope and seal it. Then he’d take that envelope and tear it into tiny pieces, only to present an intact envelope at the end in a wallet he had in his suit pocket, with the signed, intact card inside.”  As a young adult, La Plante studied magic under the tutelage of his uncle (who he referred to as “The Great Gwodzini” ) and was himself able to become a magician member of the Magic Castle.

At one time, the Magic Castle’s caricature of Gwodz holding an envelope could be found above the staircase leading to the Magic Castle’s lower levels, along with the other caricatures of noted and famous magicians. 

Gwodz was born in Detroit Michigan to parents Frank and Rose Gwodz. At age eight, the precocious Gwodz discovered Sterling Magic and Abbott’s Magic.  The rest was history.  A native of Michigan, Gwodz served as president of the Society of Detroit Magicians and as president of the I.L.M. Ring #22, where he also belonged to the Order of Merlin. After having fought in Korea as a marine paratrooper, Gwodz settled in sunny California, and became a regular at the Magic Castle from its founding in 1963 through the early 1990’s. 

“Bob was also an avid collector of rare and old books on the American West and military history,” said long-time friend and fellow book dealer Paul Hunt.  “Few booksellers could match his expertise.”

In his later years, Gwodz was a resident at the Olive Plaza Apartments in Burbank, where he had made many friends. “We all miss him dearly,” remarked Executive Manager Jessa Freemyer.  “He’d entertain us with stories of his amazing life.”

Bob will be greatly missed by all of his friends and family who knew and loved him.

John Baldaseroni, Long Time Burbank Resident Recently Passed Away

John Baldaseroni

September 12, 1940 – June 6, 2019 

John Baldaseroni

John Baldaseroni, 78, passed away June 6, 2019, at his home in Burbank, California. John was born September 12, 1940, in Summit, Illinois and raised in Burbank. He graduated from Burbank  High School in 1958 and retired from TRW in 2003.  John loved his cars from a 1957 Chevy to his Buick Grand National, not to forget drag racing on the weekend.

He was preceded in death by his beautiful wife Linda in 2016.  John is survived by his son Rick Baldaseroni and wife Leonita, brother Don Baldaseroni, sisters Jo Barrett and Lucille Borne.  His sister Mary Breckinridge passed away in 2014, and too many nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and nephews to mention.

John, we miss your presence and hope your journey was as incredible as you were.

There will be no memorial abiding by John’s wishes, but the family is gathering for a celebration of life.  We miss you, buddy!

Obituary: Louise (Watson) Roberts

Louise (Watson) Roberts, 98, passed away peacefully at home at 9:10 pm on Tuesday, June 5th, 2018.  She lived for 68 years in the same home on Pass Avenue in Burbank with her husband Joe Roberts, WWII veteran and long-time Burbank Optician. Louise is survived by daughter Jill Roberts, son Robb Roberts and daughter-in-law Barbara Roberts.  

Louise (Watson) Roberts

Services will be held on Monday, June 18th, 2018 at 11am at Magnolia Park Methodist Church in Burbank with interment to follow at 1pm at Pierce Brothers Valhalla Memorial Park & Mortuary in North Hollywood.  

Louise Watson (Roberts) was born on November 22, 1919, she was always the brightest light in the room.  Her smile was captured in the “Our Gang” comedies and other films of the 1920’s and 30’s. “I was the fourth ring around the bath tub” Louise would say, as the the fourth of nine children, born just yards from the Mack Sennett Studios in Edendale, California. (The birthplace of Hollywood).   The whole family appeared over 1000 silent and sound movies until the 1940’s. Louise was present when The Watson family received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999.  

Louise Watson was a cheerleader and studied theater in high school and college and in 1943 she married her childhood-sweetheart, Joe Roberts.  Joe lost his leg in the Pacific during WWII and after returning home, he and Louise bought their home on Pass Avenue in Burbank.  

Louise Roberts gave a lifetime of service in Burbank.  She served for years in the PTA, as a manager of a Burbank pony-tail league team and a Sunday school teacher at Magnolia Park Methodist Church.  Louise was a 50 year member of the Native Daughters of the Golden West.  She taught English as a second language, worked for the Valley College book store, and served as secretary for her brother’s photographic businesses and then for husband Joe for 30 years at Joe Roberts Optical in Burbank.

In later life she was “Aunt Louise” to the thousands of young lives she touched as Jr. High and High School youth director and as she assisted in daughter Jill’s pre-school classes for years in Burbank.  

“Firecracker” describes Louise best – always loving, always fun, caring and uplifting.  She was “lit” from within with God’s love and that love shown brightly on all she came in contact with. 

Icon Garry Marshall Dies at 81

Marquee at the Falcon Theatre that was owned and built by Garry Marshall at Ross and Riverside in Burbank

Marquee at the Falcon Theatre that was owned and built by Garry Marshall at Rose and Riverside in Burbank.

Garry Marshall, film and television writer, director, and actor, has passed away at the age of 81, at 5:00pm on Tuesday July 19 from complications of pneumonia following a stroke at a hospital in Burbank, California.

Mr. Marshall created the hit sitcoms Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Mork & Mindy, as well as directing 18 films including, Beaches, Overboard, The Princess Diaries, Mother’s Day, and Pretty Woman, the latter of which Mr. Marshall just  finished a rewrite of the book for the Broadway-bound musical.

Garry Marshall

Garry Marshall

Mr. Marshall was born in The Bronx, New York, and was a proud graduate of DeWitt Clinton High School and Northwestern University.  He is survived by his beloved wife of 53 years, nurse Barbara Sue Marshall, two sisters, Ronny Hallin and Penny Marshall, three children, Lori, a writer, Kathleen, a theatre producer, and Scott, a film and TV director, as well as six grandchildren, and his live theatre, the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, California.

Funeral services will be private.  A memorial is being planned for his birthday on November 13. The family requests no flowers.  Donations in the name of Garry Marshall can be made to The Saban Community Clinic, formerly known as the Los Angeles Free Clinic, The Intensive Care Unit at Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Burbank, and Northwestern University Undergraduate Scholarship Fund.

He loved telling stories, making people laugh, and playing softball, winning numerous championships.  Even at age 81, he had a record this year of 6 – 1 pitching for his team.

Barbara Sykes: Community Supporter, Wife, Mother

On the afternoon of February 11, Barbara Sykes succumbed to liver failure after a battle with cancer. With her untimely passing, her family and the community of Burbank and beyond lost a tireless supporter and organizer. Born in 1960 to Dick and JoAnn Sykes, Barbara was a lifelong resident of the San Fernando Valley, growing up in Toluca Lake and living her entire adult life in Burbank. She was a founding board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank and the Greater East Valley and regularly volunteered for the Burbank Coordinating Council where for many years she co-chaired the Holiday Basket Project. She also served as the chief fundraiser for the Condor Squadron of Van Nuys, a non-profit organization which preserves and flies WWII vintage aircraft to honor American veterans and preserve a piece of aviation history.

Barbara Sykes

Barbara Sykes

Her selfless organizing talents extended to her family, friends and neighbors. She applied those talents to the political campaigns of her husband, former Burbank mayor and long-time council member Dave Golonski. She organized and hosted regular family and neighborhood gatherings and community events. She never forgot a birthday and always had a gift to celebrate that special day. She was a dedicated daughter, a devoted mother and a doting grandmother. She greatly enjoyed regular trips with her grandchildren to the L.A. Zoo and was religious about daily trips, often with her son John, to Porto’s Bakery for an afternoon coffee.

She was an accomplished gardener and handywoman, skilled at painting and carpentry, and enjoyed making crafts and the challenge of refurbishing older homes and apartments. Her beautiful home on Avon Street in Burbank, at which she regularly hosted charitable events, is a testament to these skills.

mom and john Much of Barbara’s time and energy was devoted to her son John who she and her husband adopted from Russia in 1993. Barbara loved her trips to Carpenteria to visit her sister and have lunch at Zooker’s Restaurant, and visit beautiful Rincon Beach. The family, friends and neighbors who were so blessed by her energetic attentions deeply miss her.

Barbara is survived by her mother, JoAnn Sykes, husband, David Golonski, three children, Randi Tamillo, Russell Tamillo, and John Golonski, son-in-law Nathan Lowery, two grandchildren, Grant and JoAnn Lowery, and her seven brothers and sisters, Edmond, Jeanne, Carol, Gene, Richard, John and Mary. Memorial services for Barbara Sykes will be held at 11 am Sunday, February 28th at The Portal of the Folded Wings, Valhalla Memorial Park at 10631 Victory Blvd. in North Hollywood with a reception to follow at The Castaway in Burbank. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Burbank Boys and Girls Club Building Fund, 2244 N. Buena Vista St. Burbank, CA 91504 (www.bgcburbank.org) or The Condor Squadron 7800 Hayvenhurst Ave. Van Nuys, CA 91406 (www.condorsquadron.org).


Lois McMillan: Tiny Tots and Crafts Teacher for Burbank Parks

Lois McMillan, a beloved Tiny Tots teacher known as “Miss Lois” at the Burbank parks, passed away on Jan. 16 in an assisted living facility in Burbank. She was 91.

She was born on July 18, 1924, in Grand Forks, N.D., and had lived in Burbank since 1961.

She was a recreation coordinator for the Burbank Parks and Recreation Department from 1965 to 1988.

Lois McMillan

Lois McMillan

When she applied for the job with the city of Burbank, it was during the 1960s, her daughter-in-law Cheryl McMillan said, she wore a hat and gloves to the interview.

“They were impressed with that,” she said. “That’s why they hired her.”

McMillan was very apt at crafts, so in addition to Tiny Tots, she taught macrame, resin art and just about anything one could think of.

Rosemary Manz remembered making holiday decorations in Lois McMillan’s classes at Verdugo Park. One time they turned a plastic bleach bottle into a Santa Claus, Manz said.

Lew Stone’s children were in Lois McMillan’s Tiny Tots class, and she was his boss when he worked at Verdugo Park during college, he said.

“She was the sweetest lady,” he said. “She treated all of us employees like her own kids.”

After craft class, Stone said, she would put her arm around the children as she walked them out to meet their parents.

“She took great pleasure in making every child in the program seem special,” he said.

Retired parks employee Mickey Depalo worked with Lois for many years.

“Lois was like a second mother to me,” he said. “She treated everybody with such kindness and respect and she was the most optimistic person I’ve ever known. She always saw the bright side to everything, which had a real positive effect on the workplace, the people she worked with and the people who came to the recreation center.”

Former city manager Mary Alvord worked for several years with Lois McMillan when Alvord worked at McCambridge Recreation Center.

“Lois had the ability to turn egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, milk cartons and glitter into magical creations and treasures,” Alvord said. “And, whether a class participant was 3 or 83, Lois had a way of relating to that individual and finding a way to bring joy and fun to any activity.”

McMillan also had a can-do attitude that inspired everyone who worked with her, Alvord said. She never focused on a job description or worried about getting a lunch hour or work breaks.

“Instead, she was about doing whatever needed to be done and she instinctively knew what needed to be done,” Alvord said. “If we needed someone to teach a tap dance class for kids, Lois would learn the basics of tap, put on a pair of tap shoes and teach the class like a true pro!”

McMillan was often sought out for advice from strangers she met at the grocery store check-out line and those she met when the family traveled to England, said her son Richard McMillan.

“Strangers would tell her their life story,” he said. “They were drawn to her like cats to catnip.”

That knack continued when she entered the assisted living facility.

“It was strange because here are adult women who are having issues with their children and they are going to this woman who is going through the early stages of Alzheimer’s and asking her for advice, but she always gave really good advice even when she was sliding away from us,” Richard McMillan said.

Lois McMillan would always tell family stories, and her son Richard encouraged her to do research and secure documentation, so she started practicing genealogy. They now have many binders filled with family history. She became so good at it, that she started volunteering at the Mormon Church Family History Center. That led to her joining the Daughters of the American Revolution, San Fernando Valley Chapter, which was previously the Richard Gridley Chapter based in Glendale.

After she retired in 1988, she volunteered at her granddaughter Beth’s class at Roosevelt Elementary School and other classrooms. She received the city of Burbank Mayor’s Commendation as an Outstanding Senior Volunteer in 1992.

She is survived by her sons Scott MacMillan (Katherine) of Staunton, Va. and Richard McMillan (Cheryl) of Burbank; grandchildren Cameron MacMillan (Anna), Katie McGinley (Jon) and Beth Alcala (Andrew); great-grandchildren Fiona Alcala and Dane McGinley; brother Jerry McBain, Walla Walla, Wash.; and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her husband John “Jack” McMillan in 1982; and brothers Duane and Eugene McBain; and sister Bonita Logsdon.

There will be a tree planting and celebration of life at noon on Feb. 26 at Verdugo Park, 3201 W. Verdugo Ave. Refreshments to follow. In lieu of flowers, make donations to Alzheimer’s Assn.

Obituary: James Woodburn, Burbank Public Works Chief Engineer

James Donald Woodburn, Sr. (October 30, 1925 – January 5, 2016) of Burbank, California passed away peacefully at home at the age of 90.

James Woodburn

James Woodburn

Jim was born in Colfax, WA but called Madison, Wisconsin his childhood home. He was the loved son of James G. Woodburn and Delma Donald Woodburn and brother of Robert Donald Woodburn. Jim leaves behind two sons: James Donald Woodburn, Jr. MD and William Scott Woodburn, step daughters: Cynthia Holm, Deborah Sandberg, Linda Larsen and Marie Hrach, 14 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild. He was preceded in death by his wives: Donna D. Woodburn, Barbara Woodburn and Merle L. Woodburn and his daughter Margaret Woodburn Sage. His countless friends whose lives he touched with humor, intellect and spirit will deeply miss Jim’s presence.

Jim graduated in 1947 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a dedicated member of Beta Theta Pi. He moved to California in 1950 and spent 34 years with the City of Burbank where he served in many engineering and management roles within the Public Service department including chief engineer from 1951-85.

Jim continued his professional education and graduated in 1972 with a Master’s degree in Public Health Administration from USC. Jim loved Burbank and was deeply involved in many organizations including the YMCA, the Masonic Lodge including Past President High Twelve Burbank Chapter in 1962, Board of Directors of Wesley Homes, the Burbank Board of Realtors and the Burbank Sister City Committee. He received the Rotary Club Cunningham Award for service to the community after 40 years as a Burbank Rotarian and President of Rotary 1974-75.

He also served as Treasurer of the retired public employee association, Chairman of Los Angeles branch of ASME in 1974-1975 and a past President of the Burbank Historical Society. Jim and Merle Woodburn were sent to Otta, Japan as representatives of the City of Burbank which was one of many global adventures he enjoyed during his life.

In addition to his work for Burbank and the local community, Jim was also deeply involved in historical preservation including Woodburn and Donald family legacy. He was a longtime contributor and member of the Mt. Horeb Area Historical Society, as well as a donor to the UW-Madison School of Engineering, the Woodburn Guild at Indiana University and the Donald Farm Foundation.

Memorial service will be held on January 30, 2016 at 1 PM at the First Presbyterian Church in Burbank 521 E. Olive Burbank, California.

In lue of flowers the family has asked that donations be made in Jim’s name to any of the many organizations he served or colleges he attended.

Mary Jane Strickland, Founder of the Burbank Historical Society, Passes Away

Mary Jane Strickland, founder of the Burbank Historical Society and the Gordon R. Howard Museum, died Sept. 18 in a Burbank hospital, just seven weeks after her husband Harry Strickland’s passing. She was 90.

 Harry and Mary Jane Strickland, shown surrounded by family, were honored on Burbank Historical Society's 40th Anniversary.  (Staff Photo)

Harry and Mary Jane Strickland, shown surrounded by family, were honored on Burbank Historical Society’s 40th Anniversary. (Staff Photo)

Her parents, George and Blanche Cole, were longtime Burbank residents and George was the first chief of the Burbank Police Department in 1923. Mary Jane Strickland was born while her parents were visiting family in Texas.

She attended elementary, middle and high schools in Burbank and went to work for the city of Burbank in 1956. She started out working for the library and then became the public information officer for the city and continued in that role until she retired.

Former librarian Marsha Bell worked with Mary Jane Strickland at the Burbank library and called her a wonderful wife and mother as well as the strongest woman she has ever known.

Mary Jane Strickland had a talent for making beautiful display cases and because of her love of art, she encouraged artists to show their works and started the art exhibits in the library auditorium, Bell said.

She would help Bell with the Summer Reading Club, creating wall displays that inspired children to read. Their names would be placed on one side of a map and when they finished a book, their name would move to the next station, so they could see their progress.

While employed at the library, Mary Jane Strickland would receive donations of photographs of early Burbank. When she ran out of space for the donated items, she thought the city needed a place to preserve such important documents and, in 1973, the historical society was born.

“She was the driving force behind the historical society. It wouldn’t exist without her,” Bell said. “I remember when they brought that little Victorian house over [to the park] and she decorated it and she and Harry painted it. She started the museum there and people saw how dedicated she was to the project and they gave her money to build the museum complex. It was all because of Mary Jane.”

Mary Jane Strickland had a persuasive charm, said her daughter Penny Rivera.

She inspired businessmen in town to donate funds to the society. Gordon R. Howard donated apartment buildings to the society and those were sold to raise money to start building the museum complex.

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

(Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Over the years, she received many accolades for her volunteerism and the Zonta Club of the Burbank Area honored her as its Woman of the Year

What Rivera remembered most about her mom was her fortitude. If she wanted something, she got it.

“She had a strong will,” Rivera said. “But she was kind. People liked her and she liked people. She was my world.”

She was also very considerate of other people, Rivera added.

One time on a family vacation, she stepped in a hole and twisted her ankle. Other people would have ended the trip early. But not Mary Jane Strickland. She wore a cast but finished the trip, because she didn’t want to spoil it for everyone else, Rivera said.

Mary Jane Strickland was predeceased by her husband of 64 years Harry Strickland. She is survived by her daughter, Penny Rivera (Tony); granddaughter Michelle Rey (Peter); and three great-grandchildren Shaye and Robert Herriford and Jesse Rey-Gutierrez.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Oct. 3 at the Gordon R. Howard Museum. Parking is available in the lot at 1100 W. Clark Ave. In lieu of flowers, make donations to the Burbank Historical Society or a favorite charity.

Harry Strickland Dies at 100

 Harry and Mary Jane Strickland, shown surrounded by family, were honored on Burbank Historical Society's 40th Anniversary.  (Staff Photo)

Harry and Mary Jane Strickland, shown surrounded by family, were honored on Burbank Historical Society’s 40th Anniversary. (Staff Photo)

Harry L. Strickland, a former Burbank police detective who had investigated a case involving gangster Mickey Cohen, passed away Aug. 3 in his Burbank home. He was 100.

Born March 18, 1915, in Forest Hills, N.Y., Strickland moved with his parents and brother Dale to California in 1923 and lived in North Hollywood until they came to Burbank in 1938. While growing up, he was a member of the Boy Scouts and achieved the Eagle Scout rank.

Strickland joined the Burbank Police Department in 1940. He left the department temporarily to serve in the Navy during World War II from 1943 to 1945. He returned to the Burbank Police Department and was promoted to detective in 1948, specializing in robbery and homicide cases until he retired in 1969.

One of his most memorable cases was in the late 1940s and involved gangster Mickey Cohen and then-Police Chief Elmer Adams, who resigned amid allegations he was tied to Cohen and organized crime.

In a newspaper clipping from the museum’s files, Strickland explained how Chief Adams had sent him and his partner, Sandy McDonald, to check out possible gambling activity at the Dincara Stock Farm, a horse stable on Mariposa Street and Riverside Drive. Without police backup or radios, the two policemen walked into a packed casino outfitted with craps tables and roulette wheels.

It was Cohen himself who came down to the police station to ask Strickland and his partner about the three arrests that were made and what the chief had told them.

That was a scary time, said his wife, Mary Jane Strickland. Many nights Harry Strickland was called back into work for a homicide or other major crime.

“I would lie in bed with my eyes wide open. It was hard to go back to sleep,” she said.

His last case with the police department, Harry Strickland had gone to suspect’s home, and the suspect opened the door and aimed a 45-calibre gun at his head, Mary Jane Strickland said.

A wall in the museum is devoted to his law enforcement career. There are news clippings of cases Harry Strickland investigated along with early photographs of the Burbank Police Department.

Following retirement from the police department, Harry Strickland became a criminal courts coordinator for the Superior Court in Los Angeles, a career that lasted for 12 years.

Not ready for retirement, he and his wife founded the Burbank Historical Society and built the Gordon R. Howard Museum in Izay Park. He continued to maintain the museum complex well into his 90s.

Harry Strickland’s father was an architect and the younger Strickland became proficient in woodworking, which was advantageous when he and his wife acquired a house built in 1887 and had it moved to Izay Park. The Victorian Mentzer House was the beginning of the Gordon R. Howard Museum complex located around the corner.

Mary Jane Strickland was employed by the city’s library and people started bringing her photographs of early Burbank. When she ran out of space for the donated items, Mary Jane thought the city needed a place to preserve such important documents and, in 1973, the historical society was born. Harry Strickland joined the historical society board in 1974.

He practically restored the little house by himself, his wife said. Over two years, he painstakingly refurbished the gem. He scraped three layers of paint off the outside walls, replaced kitchen tile and wallpaper and installed bathroom plumbing fixtures true to the time period, which were donated by Warner Bros.

The society had a tight budget, so members had to be creative. There were two houses of similar style on Orange Grove set to be demolished, so Harry Strickland and six friends extracted parts from it and repurposed them into the Mentzer House.

Mary Jane Strickland remembered the front window had been blown out during a heavy wind storm and her husband had replaced it with a window from one of the other homes.

Harry Strickland also was the contractor on two of the Burbank family’s homes. He would always check the framer’s work and if the board weren’t straight, Harry would correct them himself, his wife said.

“He was a perfectionist,” she added.

The couple had had a whirlwind romance. They met one evening at a popular night spot in Burbank. Mary Jane was with a girlfriend and Harry was with a police buddy. They ended up taking an impulsive drive to Hollywood and then came back to the Valley for dinner. Mary Jane didn’t plan to see him again, but the next day, he stopped in at Ervin’s Jewelers where she worked.

“I looked up and here was this wonderful looking guy in his suit and hat working for the police department,” she said, adding that she was so surprised to see him. He looked so sharp and his manner was gentle and kind — so different than the rowdy persona from the night before.

“He kept asking me to go out to dinner, and finally I went out with him and the first date I had with him, I was hooked,” she said.

The couple love to travel and they owned homes in Mexico and Mount Shasta. Harry Strickland played tennis and golf and they had a pool so he enjoyed swimming.

Harry Strickland was a loving father, daughter Penny Rivera said.

“One thing I remember most, there was a brick yard at the corner of Glenoaks and Frederic,” she said. “He was a security guard there at night and would park his old Plymouth there. I would go with him on this stake out and he would teach me to drive.”

He had a sense of humor, although it was a dry one.

The couple would take Penny to the dances at Olive Recreation Center and she warned them not to pick her up in the old Plymouth.

“Of course I’d come out from the dance and they’d be sitting out front in that old beat-up Plymouth. I was so embarrassed and they just thought that was so hysterical,” she said.

He loved his grandchildren. He carved wooden rocking dinosaurs for his grandsons. He put a leather seat on it and red reins and crystal eyes.

“My dad was fabulous with woodworking,” Rivera said. “One day I came home and I found out he had built shelves in the corner of my room for my dolls. I didn’t know he was doing it until I came home.”

Harry Strickland was a detective when Glen Bell came on the force in 1955. Bell is a former Burbank police chief and motorcycle officer.

“He was just a really dedicated policeman,” Bell said. “He had a sense of humor but was very serious about the job. He was really good at it. He was a nice guy. He did the job, never made waves and was just a really good cop and detective and very dedicated.”

Bell once came up and helped Harry Strickland when he was applying wooden siding to one of the family’s houses he was building.

“I said I’d come up and help him and we nailed siding on his house for a couple days,” Bell said. “He never forgot that. Like it was such a big deal. He couldn’t believe I would do that.”

Harry Strickland is survived by his wife of 64 years, Mary Jane; daughter Penny Rivera (Tony); granddaughter Michelle Rey (Peter); three great-grandchildren Shaye and Robert Herriford and Jesse Rey; niece Katie Brown; and nephews Randy, Tim, Kevin, Shawn and Joel Strickland.

In lieu of flowers, make donations to the Burbank Historical Society or a favorite charity. A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. Aug. 15 at the Gordon R. Howard Museum. Parking is available in the lot at 1100 W. Clark Ave.

Diane Berger, Former Bret Harte Principal

UPDATED 1/18 –

Memorial Service Information for Diane Berger

The memorial service for Diane Berger will be held on Saturday, January 24, at 1:30 p.m. at Burbank First United Methodist Church, 700 N. Glenoaks Boulevard, with the reception to follow at the church. Diane’s husband, Robert Berger; her son Bob Berger; and her daughter Laura would appreciate donations to Bret Harte’s Outdoor Science School in lieu of flowers.

Burbank Unified School District Reports the passing of Diane Berger:

Diane Berger (Facebook)

Diane Berger (Facebook)

The Superintendent’s Office has learned the sad news of the passing of long-time District employee Diane Berger. Ms. Berger retired in June of 2008, after a distinguished career as an educator in Burbank and after serving as principal of Bret Harte Elementary School for 16 years. She began her teaching career in Burbank at Luther Burbank Middle School in 1969. She quickly established herself as an outstanding English teacher and a leader at Luther. She became one of the first mentor teachers selected in Burbank, and she shared her expertise with many new teachers, who benefited from her knowledge and experience.  In 1981, she moved to Burbank High School. She not only gained a reputation as an outstanding teacher; she also continued to be a leader in the District’s mentor program. She expanded on this experience, becoming an adjunct professor at Cal State Dominguez Hills and a supervisor of student teachers. During her tenure as the principal of Bret Harte, Ms. Berger become known for her willingness to share successful ideas with colleagues and she became a leader among principals.

Among her many accomplishments was her role as head of the committee to design the elementary standards-based report card. She has constantly provided support to new principals, just as she mentored new teachers.

Ms. Berger worked closely with all members of the Bret Harte community to make it an outstanding school. Besides focusing on rigorous instruction for all students in core academic subjects, she was a champion for the arts. With her support and encouragement, teachers at Harte were able to obtain extensive training in arts instruction through the Getty Center, Los Angeles County Music Center, Los Angeles county Museum of Art, and other institutions. She hired arts specialists to fill in the instructional gap when District arts funding had been cut. Very few educational leaders leave a legacy as rich as the one that Diane Berger left. Her dedication to the profession and her love of children have inspired others to become outstanding educators. She will be remembered as a tireless educator and an advocate for the families in the District.

She is survived by her son, Bob Berger, a teacher at Emerson Elementary School and her daughter, Laura Marsh. Information on memorial services will be forthcoming. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends at this difficult time.