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Tribute to Betty Sandford

On Wednesday March 24, 2021 friends, colleagues and family of one of Monrovia’s finest citizens, Betty Sandford, gathered via Zoom, Facebook and YouTube to celebrate her life.  Betty was born June 18, 1927 and passed away January 13, 2021, having lived nearly all her life in Monrovia.

Betty’s parents, Jack and Marian Zelkowitz first came to Monrovia in 1926. They opened a haberdashery at the southeast corner of Lemon and Myrtle, which they soon converted into a shoe store – Jack’s Quality Shoes -- and operated for twenty years.  (It remains a shoe store today, operated by a new owner) Jack later opened a real estate business and owned many downtown properties. Betty and her sister Charlotte were fixtures in Monrovia as children – napping in Library Park, riding on floats in Monrovia Days, and performing on their accordions around town.  

Betty married Jules Sandford and they became a team.  Jules became a law partner at Patten, Faith and Sandford, a pre-eminent law firm in Monrovia, doing much pro-bono work.  

Betty was instrumental in founding, shaping and/or supporting most of Monrovia’s community organizations over a 60-year span.  Representatives from some of these spoke at the March 24th event, including from the MUSD School Board, City Council, Centennial Committee, Monrovia Reads, Santa Anita Family Service, Quota, P.E.O., Santa Anita Family YMCA, Foothill Unity Center, Boys and Girls Club, Monrovia Theatre Arts, and Monrovia Fine Arts. Mayor Tom Adams spoke as did Darrell Carr, brother of former Mayor Bob Bartlett, and Marty Faith, whose husband Eric served on the City council.  Bob Bartlett, Eric Faith and Pat Ostrye were the slate that Betty and Jules helped get elected to change the City Council, which caused Monrovia’s renaissance.

In addition to the speakers, videos of her life were shown. The best video was of Betty practicing the jazz drum in her late 80s. She took lessons until last year (!) from professional musician Roy McCurdy, who also spoke.  Ulises Gutierrez, Ishika Muchhal, Marvin “Oka” Inoye and Councilmember Larry Spicer, people Betty mentored as teenagers, movingly told of her influence on them; one, Ishika performed a stunning live dance to Tony Bennett’s “There Will Never Be Another You”.  

The event was hosted by the Monrovia ChangeMakers, an organization Betty created when she was nearly 90.  She worked to combat bigotry and foster social justice all her life; it was a cause she felt strongly about.  Betty formed Monrovia ChangeMakers to honor people who had fought against bigotry and segregation in our community and continue to work to combat prejudice. The group published a book, stories of past changemakers, recognizing Betty and others. It can be downloaded or read online on the Monrovia ChangeMakers website.

The event was assisted by iTeens-tech.org, a group of Monrovia High students, who volunteered their time to make the complicated aspects of technology run smoothly.

One of the advantages of a virtual event is that members of the Sandford family – children, grandchildren and even a few great-grandchildren were able to participate from a distance.  With someone whose life has touched so many, even those most close to her heard few stories of her powerful guidance that were new to them.

A video of the entire event will be available for everyone to watch on Monrovia ChangeMakers YouTube channel.

To contact Monrovia Changemakers: Lois Gaston, President 827-6732, website:  https://www.monroviachangemakers.com, email:  monroviachangemakers@gmail.com, Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ChangeMakers2/

Source: Monrovia ChangeMakers press release

- Brad Haugaard


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