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SOUTH LOS ANGELES : Shaw Follows Hahn Into Retirement

March 07, 1993|DUKE HELFAND

For three decades, Marcine Shaw has been a pillar of the community. She helped establish group homes for gang members and the disabled. She brought organized sports and literacy programs to youths.

And as senior deputy to former County Supervisor Kenneth Hahn, she cut through red tape to bring health care, food and other services to constituents in Willowbrook, Athens, Compton and other communities in the 2nd Supervisorial District.

But after 17 years of county service and literally hundreds of community meetings, Shaw has retired.

"I think I established a rapport with the community. They knew if they gave me a concern they could relax and know that it would be handled," said Shaw, 62. "And if it couldn't be handled, they would get a truthful answer as to why. I never promised anything I couldn't deliver."

Even though she no longer works in an official capacity, Shaw is no less involved with the people she has served.

She is chairwoman of the Compton Unified School District personnel commission, the Greater Watts Enterprise Zone board of directors and the Lynwood Sheriff's Athletic League. And she is seeking a seat on the Compton City Council.

Before joining Hahn as a staff assistant in 1976, she served 10 years as his appointee to the county Building Rehabilitation Appeals Board. Earlier, she founded the Willowbrook Youth Athletic Assn., which brought Pop Warner football to South Los Angeles youths.

Her living room is filled with mementos of the last 30 years, including plaques, resolutions, paintings and dolls from people and organizations with whom she was involved.

Many community leaders say that in Shaw, they had a key link to Hahn, for years one of the most influential politicians in Los Angeles County.

When Wini Jackson, formerly a Los Angeles County Library public information officer, wanted to develop a program in 1980 to bring in African-American artists and leaders, she broached the idea to Shaw. Shaw took it to Hahn, and the result is the 13-year-old Living Legends series at the A. C. Bilbrew Library in South-Central. The program has attracted author James Baldwin, pianist Eubie Blake and Coretta Scott King.

"I could always go to her and say I have an idea for opening doors for children and she would take it to the supervisor," said Jackson, a community affairs officer with the county Department of Children's Services.

Community leaders recall that Shaw and another Hahn aide stood guard at the Kenneth Hahn Plaza in Willowbrook on the first night of last spring's riots, fending off would-be looters until the National Guard arrived. Shaw, who helped garner community support for the plaza during several years of planning in the early 1980s, said she refused to see those efforts wasted.

"I thought about the '65 riots when people didn't have food (afterward) and I thought, 'You aren't gonna get this shopping center,' " Shaw said.

Shaw's efforts have won her a place on the Promenade of Prominence in Watts, and the community room at the Willowbrook Senior Citizens Center is named after her. Hahn said the recognition is long overdue.

"She was the best field deputy in America," Hahn said. "She was a master at bringing attention to the needs of individual people. She was loyal, efficient and intelligent. If there was a fire, a disturbance or other problem, she was there."

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