Our History

Where We Started

A Founding Member’s First-Hand Account

Pasadena Beautiful came into being on a balmy spring evening in 1960 at the popular east-side dining spa known as Gwinn’s Restaurant. Everyone was in a jolly mood that night (someone had spiked the punch) so that by 10 o’clock, the otherwise rather somber assembly of doctors, dentists, attorneys and City Fathers were ready for action! They instructed John Holmes–late Judge Holmes–to record enough signatures (14 or 15, as I recall) and file the proper charter documents in Sacramento that would entitle us to a self-sustaining, non-profit entity on our own, totally independent of the Chamber of Commerce, as was the case of Los Angeles Beautiful.

Since then our course and compass have undergone many changes as we rather stumblingly sought a magic formula that would stamp out all ugliness and produce parcels of beauty everywhere. Eventually, we realized that our best approach would be to applaud and reward others for maintaining–even uplifting–high standards of excellence in design, whether in architecture, preservation and planting of tree, or landscaping. This seemed to work! And we are pleased that we have made great strides in helping erase the careless, shoddy post-war 50’s. Much is left to learn and do, but we hope to be constantly honing our goals and ideals, and putting firmly “on-line” all our scheduled events, large or small, such as the Annual Awards…Golden Arrow presentations…and the city-wide far-reaching Pasadena Beautiful Day.

Meanwhile, may we pledge that, with favorable winds blowing our way, enthusiasm on full speed ahead, and creative camaraderie manning the wheel, we will see our beloved city returned to its rightful place as one of the most enviable, livable and absolutely delightful communities on this planet!”

Mary Frances Russell – Founding Board Member

Mary Frances Russell Newimg
Mary Frances Russell – Founding Board Member

On October 24, 1960 these founding members signed the Article of Incorporation:

Fredrick Huggins | Boyd Welin | Robert Natzel | Donald Miller | John Holmes | King Robey | Mrs. Lee Bowling Hines | Earle Huggins

And these Founders served on the first Board of Directors:

Claude Braden | Mary Frances Russell | Edward Marples | Lee Merriman | J. Lowell McAdam | Walter Young | George Coffin III | Joseph Engholm | James Boyle | C. Bernard Cooper | Donald Miller

Remembering Alice Frost Kennedy

Alice dearly loved her family, trees, gardens, animals, celebrating good times and volunteering.
She was a remarkable and an accomplished woman–the consummate volunteer. Truly a lady that the term adjective was meant to describe. You can travel the alphabet from A-Z, from artistic to zealous, and find a word that describes her talents and efforts.

Her influence and affect on this organization is magnanimous. A quick mind and wit touched the Foundation’s programs, its people, this city , the State of California and beyond. Alice was into everything. She loved, nourished, encouraged and protected Pasadena Beautiful as if it was a tree so that it would grow strong, straight, tall, and branch out to provide shade and respite for all.

Not job was too big or too small for Alice to imagine, create, or implement from concept idea to stuffing envelopes and delivering fliers. Alice never hesitated to help make things happen. When members got a call from Alice in regard to helping on a project, before they knew it they were the Chair. And then, again before they knew it, she convinced them that they were the only one to do it. However, she never left them out on a limb. She was there to assist whenever it was needed.

Remembering Richard Nevins

Richard Nevins, known as Dick, was a childhood friend of Alice Frost Kennedy and Ted Behr, all three of them became long time and devoted members of Pasadena Beautiful.

He gave generously over the years to PBF. No job was too small for him to do. He would come to the office when Teri Weeks worked there and volunteer to help, whether it be folding letters or stuffing envelopes. He called it “grunt work” or “hands on” and he was happy to lend a hand.

He was frugal. PBF received a grant to buy a copying machine, which they did. But it needed a stand to sit upon. Dick asked Teri to design what she would like; then Dick built it. And a decade later it still remains in use. He would volunteer his and wife, Mary Lois’ house for PBF parties or for storing PBF materials.

He was on the Finance Committee, and was very deft with numbers and handling of the budget. He was very good at establishing relationships within the Community. He forged relationships with Polytechnic School and “Save Our Street Trees”, a program of PBF, which enabled students to volunteer their help, for which they earned community service credit. He was also on the Pasadena Historical Museum Board and arranged with them to keep the PBF archive papers.

He wouldn’t hesitate to call Board members to encourage them to come out and take part in a project. Dick Nevins was one of those volunteers, who gave their all, and Pasadena Beautiful was a fortunate recipient of his time, dedication, and energy.

Remembering Ted Behr
Park bench dedicated to Ted Behr
Park bench dedicated to Ted Behr

As a long term Pasadena businessman and property owner, Ted Stood above many of his Pasadena Beautiful peers by his length of devotion and sustained generosity toward furthering the mission of the foundation. He first was a long standing member providing support for many years, often voicing his knowledge and support of the value of trees and landscape in the community.
He then served on the board with regular attendance, missing meetings only when he was away on travel despite a serious medical condition that took him from us. Few of us were even aware of his condition as he tended to the business at hand asking guiding questions and offering sage advice. He was kind and thoughtful, never overbearing or calling attention to himself.

DSCN1243v2Early in the new millennium, when the Foundation was briefly in the red he would thoughtfully review the Treasurer’s report taking in the difficulty of the situation. Without notice at the conclusion of the meeting, he would quietly hand the President a check of a very sizable amount. His thoughtful generosity brought us to solvency in very short order.
DSCN1242Ted is honored with this bench and plaque placed on Orange Grove Boulevard near California. Two new magnolias will someday shade bus travelers enjoying the rest spot.

Remembering Bob Cheesewright

Bob lived in Pasadena his entire life except during WWII service where he served the Navy in the South Pacific. He graduated from Polytechnic School and Yale.
He touched many people with his friendly and direct manner and his perserverance. His professional life started by designing kitchens at his father’s company, Cheesewright Studios. He had a passion for food, gardens and wine. He was a founder of the Pasadena Food and Wine Society, served as the President of Pasadena Beautiful Foundation, and served as VP of Development for Descanso Gardens in La Canada.

Bob, as a multi-term President, built our bank account in the 80’s by truly meeting our mission of forging many alliances and encouraging memberships. Because Bob simply said “why don’t you join?” many members joined and participated for decades.

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Read A History

This history is a transcript of the Pasadena Beautiful Foundation History Video.
Click here to download the PDF.

Archived Events

Pictures from past holiday events are available here

Optima Awardees

2001 Randy Finch
2005 Ted Behr
2006 Emina Darakjy
2008 Colin Silvio

Extraordinary Volunteer Service

2008 Randy Finch

Presidents of the Foundation

1960-1961 Mr. A Claude Braden
1961-1962 Mr. Edward Davies
1962-1964 Mrs. Francis D. Frost, Jr. (Alice)
1964-1965 Mr. John Carhartt
1965-1967 Mrs. Frederick C. Lindvall
1967-1968 Mr. Frederick R. Huggins
1968-1969 Mr. H. Douglas Byles
1969-1970 Mrs. Roland C. Russell
1970-1971 Mr. George C. Bond
1971-1972 Mr. Glenn Hiatt
1972-1974 Mr. Robert Oliver
1974-1976 Mrs. James D. Harris
1976-1977 Mr. Bradley Buddy
1977-1978 Mr. Joshiro Befu
1978-1980 Mrs. Daniel Foley
1980-1982 Mrs. Arthur L. Hoff
1983-1984 Mrs. James P. Kennedy, Jr. (Nancy)
1984-1986 Mrs. John L. Poole (Dorrie)
1986-1987 Mr. J. T. Driscoll
1988-1990 Robert W. Cheesewright
1990-1993 Alice Frost Kennedy
1993-1996 Mr. Richard Nevins
1996-2000 Nina Chomsky
2000-2000 Maria Mallace
2000-2002 Polly Wheaton, Betsey Tyler, Jan Muntz
2002-2004 Jan Muntz
2004-2006 Randy Finch
2006- 2008 Emina Darakjy
2008-2011 Bette Cooper
2011-2014 Polly Wheaton
2014-2016 Brooke Larsen Garlock
2016-2019 Chuck Livingstone
2019-2021 Brad Hanson