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Lucy Toberman; Founded Philanthropic Clubs

October 28, 1994|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Lucy Toberman, the volunteer's volunteer who by her own count founded 26 philanthropic and social organizations and served on the Los Angeles Social Service Committee and the Planning Commission, has died. She was 84.

Mrs. Toberman, who was honored as the California Mother of the Year in 1973 and Times Woman of the Year in 1976, died Tuesday at her home in Hancock Park.

The former Lucy Montague Guild arrived in Los Angeles with her widowed mother and brother when she was 8 years old. She started volunteering immediately--ringing doorbells for United Way--and spent more than half a century finding money to aid the underprivileged.

She earned a bachelor's degree at UCLA and a master's degree at Duke University, where she founded a new chapter of her sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma. Mrs. Toberman received the UCLA Alumni Assn. Community Service Award in 1971 and was chosen as one of four outstanding Kappas in the country in 1972.

After working toward a doctorate in French at Stanford, she married real estate magnate Homer Toberman and raised their five children.

She taught journalism at Los Angeles City College and wrote social columns for several years for The Times and the Larchmont Chronicle. However, Mrs. Toberman reserved most of her unflagging energy and enthusiasm for her fund-raising organizations.

"Americans," she told The Times in 1976, "are so generous and so gregarious and so sympathetic, and that's why I think they want to be in groups. When you're in college you belong to a fraternal organization. But when you're out of college you have no focal point. You need a gathering spot."

She provided several.

Among the groups she co-founded were the Sunday Night Supper Club, which raised money for the Lung Foundation; the Colleagues of the Big Sister League, which built a child-care center, and Las Floristas, which raised funds for handicapped children with an innovative ball featuring models with elaborate floral headdresses.

For 17 years, Mrs. Toberman served as president of the Municipal Arts Patrons. Some of the groups she created were purely social--such as the Carriage Club, whose members traveled by bus to football games or concerts at the Hollywood Bowl. She had organized the Hollywood Bowl Patroness Committee as a bowl support group.

She also organized a group of women called the Presidents. Included were all the women who became presidents of other organizations, whether willingly or by draft. The Presidents also raised money to aid abused children through the Children's Bureau. As a board member of the bureau, Mrs. Toberman also formed two other fund-raising auxiliaries--the Pony Tails and the ABCs.

She is survived by two daughters, Lucy Ann McBain and Patricia Heiden; three sons, George, Erik and John Toberman, and 22 grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Hollywood Presbyterian Church, 1760 Gower St.

The family has asked that any memorial donations be made to Toberman Settlement House, 131 N. Grand Ave., San Pedro, Calif. 90731.

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