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Library Salutes Women’s History Month with Display Honoring Former Mayor Dorothy Cohen

Post Date:03/07/2019 5:00 PM

South Pasadena’s storied history, both past and present, has benefitted greatly from the monumental contributions of women. Presently, South Pasadena has two women on its City Council: Councilmember Diana Mahmud and Mayor Marina Khubesrian, MD. Previously, South Pasadena has been led by other female Mayors: Alva Lee Arnold (1919-2004 and Mayor from 1983 to 1984), Evelyn Fierro (Mayor in 1992), Dorothy Cohen (1926-2018 and Mayor from 1996-1997 and 2000-2001), Diana Mahmud (Mayor from 2013-2014). Dr. Marina Khubesrian initially served as Mayor for the 2013-2014 term.

Besides the aforementioned, any list of prominent South Pasadena women in history should include:

  • Lucretia Garfield (1832-1918) was the former First Lady of the U.S. who moved to South Pasadena after President James A. Garfield (1831-1881) was assassinated.


  • Margaret Collier Graham (1850-1910) was a leading literary stylist of her day and the wife of the City’s first Mayor, Donald Graham (1847?-1892?)


  • Alice Millard (1873-1938) is known as the first female high end antiquarian book dealer.  


  • Nelbert Chouinard (1879-1969) was one of the foremost arts educators of the 20th Century, training many extremely famous artists, after founding the Chouinard Art Institute in LA.


  • Norma Le Valley (?-2017) was the longtime editor of the South Pasadena Review and The Quarterly


Dorothy Cohen won both major statewide awards for volunteers at the California Library Association Annual Conference in Pasadena in 2009

Dorothy Cohen, former Mayor of South Pasadena passed away last year at age 92. Dorothy had devoted half of her very full life to the City of South Pasadena, and was especially devoted to the Library during her last years. Dorothy, a Co-Founder of the Friends Bookstore served as its volunteer coordinator for 35 years.  On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2018, a fittingly lively memorial for Dorothy was convened in the Library Community Room with a full house of family, friends, and associates, expressing their admiration, love, and reflections.

Memorial donations in Dorothy’s honor be made to the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library Dorothy’s family also donated Dorothy’s personal book collection, to the Friends Bookstore. The family also donated the dozens of framed awards and proclamations Dorothy amassed through the years to the Local History Archives of the South Pasadena Public Library. A sampling of the awards are being used for a “Remembering Dorothy Cohen” display in the case inside the Library’s main entrance during March for “Women’s History Month.”   


The Women's History Month Display on Dorothy Cohen showcases a mere sampling of her many impressive awards


  • CALTAC California Association of Library Trustees and Commissioners. Dorothy M. Cohen. Is hereby commended for making a significant financial or in-kind contribution to the South Pasadena City Library. November 2009.
  • California Library Association. President’s Award Presented to Dorothy Cohen. 2009 In Appreciation for Your Contribution to California’s Libraries.
  • California State Assembly Certificate of Recognition Presented to: Dorothy M. Cohen. Member, South Pasadena City Council. 1994-2003. On behalf of the California State Assembly, I commend your commitment to public service. Thank you for your dedication to the people and community of South Pasadena. South Pasadena, California March 19, 2002. [
  • Certificate of Appreciation. Public Schools Week, April 26-30 1971. In Recognition of the Meritorious Civic Service Performed by Dorothy Cohen In Participating in Public Schools Week, the Masonic Lodges in this Area Are Honored in Presenting this Award.
  • Certificate of Recognition. We Hereby Express Our Sincere Appreciation to Dorothy M. Cohen For extraordinary commitment and exceptional performance as a Volunteer to the City of South Pasadena, Community Services Department, Senior Citizen’s Center. May 30, 2002.
  • City of South Pasadena. Certificate of Appreciation. May It Be Known that this Certificate is Presented by the City Council of the City of South Pasadena. “To: Dorothy M. Cohen. General Plan Advisory Committee Member. For Recognition of Outstanding Community Involvement.”
  • City of South Pasadena. “This is to Certify that Dorothy M. Cohen has been appointed by the City Council for the prescribed term, as a member of the Library Board of Trustees a group of outstanding citizens voluntarily dedicated to the task of assisting the City Council in providing the best possible government for the City of South Pasadena. Dated this 6th day of March, 1985. Paul R. Shaw Mayor. Ruby R. Kerr. City Clerk.”
  • City of South Pasadena Proclamation. “The South Pasadena City Council Commends Dorothy Mahoney Cohen For her contributions As A City Council Member. April 12, 1994 – March 19, 2003. … “
  • City of South Pasadena Proclamation. Twentieth Anniversary of Friends Bookstore Sunday, July 28, 2002
  • City of South Pasadena Proclamation. Twentieth Anniversary of Friends Bookstore Sunday, July 28, 2002. … Friends Bookstore Recognition Day
  • The City of South Pasadena Expresses Appreciation. Dorothy M. Cohen. Community Redevelopment Commissioner. 2008-2012. In appreciation for four years of volunteer service on the Community Redevelopment Commission of the City of South Pasadena, California. Dated this 18th day of April, 2012 [signature] Michael A. Cacciotti, Mayor.
  • The City of South Pasadena Expresses Appreciation. Dorothy Cohen. For Volunteer Service on the Oaklawn Bridge Ad Hoc Community. South Pasadena, California.  February 12, 2003.
  • County of Los Angeles. Older Americans Recognition Day. Presented to Dorothy M. Cohen. 38th Annual. In Recognition of Outstanding Volunteer Service Rendered to the Community by Sharing Your Ability, Mature Knowledge and Vast Experience and Giving Freely of Your Time and Energy. The Wealthy Heritage of Your Service Enriches the Entire Community. Done this 28th Day of May, 2003, At Los Angeles, California.
  • Dorothy M. Cohen For Dedicated Service As Mayor. 2000-2001 South Pasadena City Council. Plaque with city Logo.
  • Gavel, wreath, and plaque. In Appreciation Dorothy M. Cohen. Mayor. City of South Pasadena. 1996-1997.
  • Glass book on plaque. Dorothy Cohen: for Outstanding Service to the Library and Community from Her South Pasadena Friends, July 28, 1992
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation. President’s Award Presented to The 710 Opposition Coalition for their dedication and continued success in preserving the historic neighborhoods of South Pasadena, Pasadena, and El Sereno by leading the decades-long campaign preventing the construction of the Route 710 Freeway through those communities. November 1, 2000
  • “Ossie” Awesome Ostrich Award Presented to Dorothy Cohen Advisor to the Founding Board. South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce.
  • Poetical Congratulations from Tom & Jane Apostol to Dorothy Cohen regarding Dorothy’s recent nomination to the South Pasadena City Council.
  • Proclamation. The Congress of the United States House of Representatives. Presented to Mayor Dorothy Cohen. South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce 4th of July 2000 Festival of Balloons Committee. In Recognition of Your Efforts in Building a Better Community and In Honor of Your Participation in the “Blast Into The Future” Celebration.
  • State of California Senate Certificate of Recognition. Dorothy M. Cohen. Upon Your Retirement from the South Pasadena City Council. “On behalf of the California State Senate, I thank you for your constant and consistent work on behalf of the City of South Pasadena. As a member of the City Council for nine years, and serving as Mayor for two years, I commend you for your dedication to our youth and the business community. With your hard work and good will, you have bettered the society in which you live. May your good deeds always be remembered by the people of South Pasadena, March 20, 2003.”
  • The South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce. Wishes to express deep appreciation to Dorothy M. Cohen, GAPC. For outstanding participation, enthusiasm, and contributions to the South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce and the overall life of South Pasadena. Your commitment to South Pasadena is an important fiber in the fabric that makes South Pasadena a livable community.
  • United States of America Certificate of Election. State of California, County of Los Angeles, “I Jeannine A. Gregory, Clerk, of the City of South Pasadena, State of California, certify, that at a General Municipal Election held in the City on the 12th day of April, 1994, Dorothy M. Cohen was elected to the office of Member of the City Council."


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