Community gives Chronicle’s Jane Gilman standing ovation

| January 28, 2016 | 0 Comments

jane fold WEBCommunity leaders, business owners, government representatives and neighborhood friends all gathered at The Ebell of Los Angeles to celebrate both the retirement and birthday (on her actual birthday) of one of the community’s most beloved stalwarts, Larchmont Chronicle co-founder Jane Gilman.

“Jane credits luck, timing, ambition, diplomacy, gregariousness, more luck, and fearlessness as the attributes needed to run a newspaper,” said successor Chronicle publisher John Welborne to the more than 160 people in attendance. “All of these attributes have been, and are, displayed by Jane Gilman.”

Hosted by the Wilshire Rotary, the packed luncheon featured multiple speakers, gift presentations and even an impromptu rendition of ”Happy Birthday” to Jane.

“We wish you a happy retirement and birthday, and we love you so,” declared Wilshire Rotary President Pearl Leeka, presenting Jane with a bouquet of peonies and roses.

A tasty menu

Guests nibbled on avocado, pineapple and radish salad, braised beef short ribs and blueberry clafoutis with crème Anglaise as they listened to the line-up of speakers: Pearl Leeka of Wilshire Rotary, John Welborne of the newspaper, John Winther of Coldwell Banker and president of the Larchmont Blvd. Association, John Burney, director of residential services of Park La Brea, Stephen Kramer, co-founder and president of the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, and—as an unscheduled surprise—Tom LaBonge, former city councilman for the 4th District.

John Welborne and Pam Rudy, the Chronicle’s advertising director, kicked off the presentations by giving Jane, on behalf of her colleagues at the paper, a gold necklace and pendant mounted with a gold key and a garnet birthstone.

“Not only has Jane been our team leader,” said Welborne, “she is a community leader as well. Jane is the key to the community and a key to its success, and that is what this little gold key recognizes.”

Jane responded, recounting how she and Dawne Goodwin launched the Larchmont Chronicle in 1963. Their strategy was to get enough advertisers on board to support a local monthly paper. After going door-to-door on Larchmont Blvd., 28 businesses, including Phil’s Fresh Fish, Van de Kamp’s Bakery, and Landis Department Store, decided to jump aboard what Jane and Dawne dubbed the “great experiment.” The paper’s first 12-page issue was the result.

Now, 53 years later, the newspaper under Jane’s stewardship has become the envy of neighborhoods across the city.

“Jane has always been the real fabric of our community and kept it together,” praised John Winther of Coldwell Banker.

“She would always step forward and keep the community active and involved. Jane’s bio is so impressive that no one deserves to retire more than Jane!”

Life before Chronicle

For those who don’t know it, Jane actually had a life before launching the newspaper in 1963. She came from Rye, New York, where she worked on her high school paper. After graduating from Beloit College in Wisconsin, she moved to New York City to work for Cosmopolitan Magazine. She met her husband, Irwin, after she joined the military as a civilian recreation director overseas. Eventually, she and Irwin landed in Los Angeles where Jane befriended Dawne Goodwin, and the rest is history.

Dawne’s den

“We worked out of Dawne’s den for the first year,” reminisced Jane. “We are so lucky we chose this community . . . and I really do have to thank Dawne, because without her, there would be no Larchmont Chronicle.” Dawne Goodwin passed away in 2012.

Representing Park La Brea, John Burney took a moment to remember the first time he met Jane.

“You were at Tom Bergin’s, doing a sales presentation with some of the staff and playing the kazoo. I thought, ‘these people are crazy and I need to know them!’”

Orrefors vase

Steve Kramer presented Jane a beautiful Orrefors crystal flower vase on behalf of the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, and former Councilman Tom LaBonge stepped up to praise Jane for empowering the community. “Information is knowledge is power,” said LaBonge as he stood by Jane. “Because of you and Dawne, the neighborhood had the power to become an effective community.”

Master of Ceremonies Leeka then acknowledged representatives of four elected officials who had sent handsome proclamations that were displayed on a table to the side of the room: Congressman Ted Lieu, state Sen. Ben Allen, state Assemblyman Richard Bloom, and 4th District City Councilman David E. Ryu.

Thanks from Jane

Jane again rose to thank the paper’s staff, the 4th District city councilmen over the past fifty years, business owners, residents and “the advertisers who have stuck by the Chronicle for the last half-century.

“Advertisers, we couldn’t do it without you,” Jane said. “You are the backbone of the paper, and we truly love and appreciate your support.”

Jane revealed that throughout the years, she has been most proud of helping establish multiple local organizations, including the Windsor Square – Hancock Park Historical Society and the Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce, among others. The numerous campaigns for historic preservation also are among Jane’s proudest achievements, she added.

“There are many neighborhoods that are continuing to establish their historic status, and I still want to be helpful,” Jane assured the group.

As the crowd rose to its feet for a standing ovation, Jane told the appreciative onlookers, “my minute and a half is up, so I again want to say thank you for making it all happen for me.”

No, thank you, Jane.

By Sondra Toll Sepenuk

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Category: People

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