History of SGVLSA

On September 9, 1948 a group of women actively engaged in the legal profession met in San Marino.  The group was brought together through the efforts of Maris D. Jeannerette Zorns, who was then membership chairman for the Southern District of the State of California for Legal Secretaries, Incorporated.  A temporary board was named at that meeting.  Chosen were Ellen C. Neilan, Chairman, Lilian Speake, Secretary; Peggy Castle, Treasurer; Inez Deems, Bylaws Chairman; Estelle Maguire, Nominating Committee; and Adaline Brewer, Publicity Chairman.

On October 14, 1948, with some 50 legal secretaries in attendance, an election of officers was held.  Those officers elected were: Ellen C. Neilan, President; Lois O’Connor, Recording Secretary; Marnie Nolan, Corresponding Secretary; Peggy Castle, Treasurer; Marie D. Jeannerette, Governor; Marjorie Conly, Parliamentarian; and June Dean, Historian.

On November 10, 1948, the state charter was presented to us by Evelyn Atwood, then President of the state association.  Thus, San Gabriel Valley Legal Secretaries Association became the seventeenth association in the state.  Sixty (60) charter members, the largest in the state, were obtained by Lilian Speake, with the help of Libby Zahradka and others.

San Gabriel Valley Association held its first bosses’ night on February 10, 1949, in San Gabriel.  It was at this meeting that we were presented with our first American flag, donated and presented by the Daughters of the Union Veterans, Whittier group.  There were 125 secretaries and bosses present and we initiated six (6) new members.

Later, from this association, some of the charter members who lived in the Whittier area withdrew from the San Gabriel Valley Association and formed the nucleus of another association in Whittier, which was chartered April 28, 1949 and is known as Rio Hondo Legal Secretaries Association.

At the elections meeting in April 1949, Ellen C. Neilan was reelected President and installed in May 1949.  The other officers elected and installed were: Mildred Gunnerson, Vice President; Estell Maguire, Corresponding Secretary; Lois O’Conner, Recording Secretary; Martha Skouland, Treasurer; Eula Sawtelle, Parliamentarian; and Libby L. Zahradka, Historian.  Installation was held on May 19, 1949.  The Honorable Frederick F. Houser, Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, was installing officer and was introduced by our Master of Ceremonies, Honorable LeRoy Dawson, Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court.  The Alhambra City Attorney, Emmet Tompkins was our speaker.

In June 1949, San Gabriel Valley LSA was one of the 10 associations of Los Angeles County that met in Long Beach with the purpose of future joint meetings in order to exchange ideas between associations.  This group and the idea were those of Evelyn Atwood and became known (at least temporarily) as Los Angeles County Coordinating Council of Legal Secretaries.  Later, a contest was held with the purpose  of permanently naming this group.  Mrs. Atwood again came through as the winner of the contest with the name as it is known today “Los Angeles County Forum of Legal Secretaries, Inc.” which meets every three months, with one of the 13 Los Angeles County associations acting as hostess at each meeting.