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Lois Gaston

Lois Gaston joined her mother in Monrovia in June of 1949 from her birth home of Taylor, Arkansas. After beginning school in Taylor, she attended 5th grade in San Diego and eventually ended up in Monrovia-Arcadia Duarte High School (MAD), from which she graduated in 1953. Lois's experience at MAD was mixed. Usually the only African-American in college prep classes, her weeks were spent with Caucasians and her weekends and summers spent with her Black neighbors and church friends. Her best friend was Mimi Martin Mency and together they

worked to improve human relations in a community with segregated swimming pool, housing and movie theatres. Black youth even gathered in a specific spot on the Monrovia-Arcadia-Duarte high school campus. By 1955 Lois and Mimi each married, living in Pasadena and working for Pacific Telephone.  In the 1960s her employer loaned Lois to what was then MUSD to assist in race relations. She worked primarily with African Americans and the PTA and felt that there was little interest in change by the District establishment. Even so, Lois and Mimi were both Pacific Bell management when they retired in 1989. Living in Monrovia, three of Lois's children attended the still-segregated Huntington Elementary School. Oblivious to race, these three played ball in the diverse and integrated Monrovia Youth Baseball League where they were coached by men of all races. In 1969 Lois and her husband were thwarted in their interest to buy a home in the part of Monrovia they desired because of their race, and ended up by buying in Duarte. It was Monrovia's loss, as Lois became a Duarte leader -- eventually as Mayorand President of the California Contract Cities Association. Over the years Lois has founded a team of volunteers to tutor Monrovia and Duarte High students required to take SAT and ACT exams, served as a consultant to the City of Duarte and Duarte Unified School district for MLK Day programs to promote cultural understanding, and worked on political campaigns to elect candidates who understand and promote human rights. As a Board member and Chair of the Nominating Committee for Foothill Unity Center, Lois has recruited strong and effective members to the Board of this organization, which serves families in need. Her contribution to the Unity Center has been such that she received the Unity Center’s 2017 Humanitarian Award. She also founded and chairs the Community Mediation Team, which focuses on gang violence prevention. And she has worked with the Anna H. Jones Club and other organizations to raise scholarship fundsand provide mentoring to minority youth. From 1996-2001, in partnership with Santa Anita Family Service and L.A. County, Lois administered grant funds for the Summer and Youth Programs activities to promote safe and stable families. I am proud to tell of Lois's activities as they guide us to build on the racial unity and progress that has been made.    

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