Bert Lane, 95: Helped build a YMCA and a local baseball field

| March 31, 2022 | 0 Comments

IN 1957, Bert Lane with sons Rob, Don (on his lap) and Jim.

In 2016, his three sons are in the same order with dad Bert on his 90th birthday.












Bert Lane was a familiar face in the neighborhood, from overseeing a popular summertime baseball field on Second Street to helping raise millions of dollars for the Hollywood / Wilshire YMCA.

For two decades he joined dignitaries such as Mayor Tom Bradley, Councilman John Ferraro and Chief of Police Tom Reddin at the local Y’s Boosters Dinner, held annually at the Wilshire Country Club. At the popular community event, trips around the world and other high-priced items were auctioned, and cash prizes were awarded.

“He raised a lot of money. He was very involved,” his wife of 73 years, Ann Reiss Lane, told us last month.

“We had three boys who were involved with the Y and participated in its summer camps. So it was mutually good for us,” Ann said.

Bert died Feb. 18 of Parkinson’s disease. He was 95.

In 1956, Ann, Bert and their family settled on June Street, and their home became the go-to spot for everything related to Third Street Elementary School, across the street.

Early years and WWII
Bert was born in San Diego, and he moved with his parents to Los Angeles six years later. After attending Third Street, he enrolled in John Burroughs Junior High and graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1944, where he was an athlete and an officer in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. During World War II he was a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army and served as a recreation supervisor at military bases; he also worked as a photographer in New York City for the military. Documenting the city “was the highlight of his life,” his son Jim told us.

Woman of his dreams
After Bert graduated from UCLA, he married the woman of his dreams in 1949.

Ann Reiss was only 16 when his mother and her aunt arranged a meeting at her family home on Citrus Avenue. He arrived dressed in uniform, Ann remembers. She told her aunt the next day, “He’s very nice, but I’m not going to marry him.”

But Bert was smitten. Ann must have changed her mind, because after she turned 18, the couple would walk down the aisle.

Bert had dreamed of being a teacher, but instead he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather (who arrived in California in 1870) and father in the food service industry. Using his business acumen, Bert paved his own path, creating and growing industry leaders: Quality Col-Pak, Profitime and California Apple Products. He had planned to retire at 50 and spend his days playing tennis, but he soon found himself back in the food business, this time working with his son Jim.

Bert and his sons went to summer camps at the Y’s facility near Big Bear and joined in other Y activities, from road trips to river rafting down the Grand Canyon.

“But my dad’s greatest contribution to the neighborhood was converting two vacant lots on Second Street at the end of Hudson Place into a baseball field every summer. All the families came,” said Jim, who now lives on Irving Boulevard.

Bert’s foray into Hollywood / Wilshire YMCA fundraising began as a group effort with Dawne Goodwin McCullough, co-founder of the Larchmont Chronicle, and Larchmont-based political publicist Joe Cerrell.

At the time, the Y operated out of a small home on the northwest corner of Larchmont Boulevard and Third Street. Basketball, swimming and other sport activities were held at nearby parks. Later, property was found on Oxford Avenue just north of Third, but the facility there was underfunded and lacked a pool. Not having a pool “was the biggest regret of that property,” Jim recalled.

“Dawne, Joe and my dad looked for a way to create money on an annual basis, and they created the Booster Dinner” (originally a stag dinner). Bert served as logistics coordinator and also stepped in between executive director terms. As the money rolled in, a fully-equipped Y was built with the much-desired pool. (Today, it is called the Anderson Munger Family YMCA.

When Bert did officially retire in 2010, besides spending time with his family (including his granddaughters), he and Ann traveled the globe, visiting more than 60 countries. He built a family retreat in the mountains, and he planted a flourishing garden in Montecito, as well as fished, played more tennis, raced thoroughbred horses and loved desserts — preferably with vanilla or lemon.

“He had a long life. He was lucky,” Ann said.

Besides his wife Ann and son Jim (Jill Ruesch-Lane), he is survived by sons Rob and Don (Mary Howe), five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

In honor of Bert, his family asks readers to “Please have yourself a cookie!” and also consider a donation to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

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Category: People

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