Mimi Luvenia Martin was born on November 13, 1932 in Monrovia, in her uncle’s car traveling along Huntington Drive while her mom was in route to the hospital. The eldest of two daughters born to Eugene and Narrey Martin, Mimi attended Huntington Elementary, and Clifton Junior High before graduating from MonroviaArcadia-Duarte (MAD) High School. She later attended Pasadena City College before marrying at an early age. During Mimi’s adolescent and teen years her parents owned a home just a few doors north of Huntington Elementary School on Canyon
Boulevard. The Martins were an American dream family back then – pillars of the community and church leaders; a working father who drove a big “made in the USA” Buick with a shiny chrome bumper; a stay-at-home mom who prepared home cooked meals from scratch everyday; two active girls with silky, long braids that extended below their waistlines; a family with a garden, fruit trees and ducks in the back yard and a piano in the living room. They were involved in youth programs and civic affairs as much as they could be given the segregated state of affairs back then. The Martin family lived in this modest neighborhood until shortly after Mimi was married and gave birth to Sherrilyn. When Mr. and Mrs. Martin relocated to the county area of Duarte in the 1960s, their home and swimming pool became the place for Mimi and her sister Lavada’s friends, now married with children, to spend many a weekend and holiday. It was here that Mimi remarried, this time to the love of her life, George W. Mency, Jr. on June 13, 1965. They had a house built on Fig Avenue. It is filled with Mimi’s uniquely purchased treasures and Christmas ornaments, all of their treasured stories and fond memories. Mimi’s business career started in 1955 at Pacific Telephone on Green Street in Pasadena, CA. She excelled over the years from a telephone operator in Pasadena to a management position in Los Angeles and retired from AT&T- Lucent Technologies in December of 1989. It only seemed natural that Mimi was concerned about the racial tensions that plagued her alma mater, Monrovia High. Civil rights, even in her hometown, was a hot topic in the late 1960s. Every five to eight months, violence would erupt on campus between students, eventually resulting in 16 students being injured in two days of fighting in March, 1969. Mimi and other parents patrolled the campus. That unrest prompted her to the decision to run for school board. She was first elected to the Monrovia Unified School District’s Board of Trustees in 1972, and served in that capacity until 1984, twice as President. Among Mimi’s accomplishments was her leading the fight for the Black Student Union (BSU) to have a club on Monrovia High’s campus. When told that would not be allowed, Mimi’s response was “over my dead body.” She persevered and years later, in 2008, the Monrovia High BSU honored Mimi for her efforts on their behalf. Mimi continued her active service after retiring from the Monrovia Board of Education. In 1985, she was appointed City of Monrovia Planning Commissioner, and received the Mary Wilcox Award in 2001 for her dedicated service to the Boys and Girls Club and youth programs. She served as Treasurer for all of Bob Bartlett’s campaigns for Mayor and participated in Betty Sandford’s campaigns for the School Board. Monrovia Chamber of Commerce honored her with its Iris Award/Citizen of the Year in 2002. an award given to the Monrovian whose contributions were made over an extended period of time. She also helped organize and present Monrovia’s entry into its successful All-America City award competition. For years, Mimi was Monrovia’s “go-to” person for information or help related to fighting bigotry and segregation. She was a mentor to young people who chose to work in the field. Los Angeles County gave her an Older American Volunteer Award in 2004. On Tuesday, June 21, 2011, Mimi slipped peacefully away with Lavada sitting by her hospital bedside.