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Library Foundation's Awards Night Is Definitely One for the Books

May 02, 2000|PATT DIROLL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Library foundation benefactor Pam Mullin's love affair with the old Central Library in downtown Los Angeles began shortly after she emigrated from Scotland at 17 with no money and a limited education.

"The library helped me to create my dreams and dream them. I got a job and spent my lunch hours lost in the maze of books. I learned the necessities of life here--from how to set a table to how to read an annual report," Mullin said last Tuesday at the Los Angeles Library Foundation's Fifth Annual Awards Dinner.

Mullin, now a director of the foundation, chaired the evening, which honored Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin ("No Ordinary Time") with the library's prestigious Literary Award; Mayor Richard Riordan and wife Nancy Daly Riordan with the Light of Learning Award for their support; and Sanwa Bank for its support of the Mark Twain Branch Library in South-Central L.A.

Former honoree Gregory Peck presented the award to Goodwin, a presidential historian, who delighted the audience with her own saga of libraries from the time her invalid mother read to her as a child to her college years at Harvard University and her first job as a White House intern. "It began my fascination with history and the presidency."

Before the ceremonies in the Mark Taper Auditorium, the more than 200 guests gathered in the Lodwrick Cook Rotunda for cocktails and dined at tables arranged on the four floors of the library's eight-story atrium.

In the crowd were Flora Thornton, a past honoree; Roy Tamakoshi, CEO of Sanwa; Andrea and John Van de Kamp; Peter Allen, Susan Kent, Vanessa C.L. Chang, Evelyn Hoffman, Lois and Buzz Aldrin, Joni and Clark Smith, Janet Karatz, and Lod Cook's 8-year-old grandson, Samuel Cook Chambi, who said: "This is the best place in the world."

The dinner raised $245,000 for library enrichment programs.

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For 62 years, Las Floristas and its members have played to a capacity crowd at the annual Floral Headdress Ball. This year's extravaganza, "All That Glitters," held at the Beverly Hilton on Friday, had an added fillip, a choreographed wheelchair basketball exhibition with children from the Las Floristas Clinics at Rancho Las Amigos Medical Center and L.A. County/USC Medical Center.

"People think it's frivolous to look like a walking Rose Parade float at this party until they see those kids and what our money accomplishes," said longtime member Rosemary Petrotta. "Every cent goes directly to the clinics."

Las Floristas president Patricia Frandson and ball chairwoman Julie Pejsa anticipate that proceeds will exceed $350,000.

Patt Diroll's column is published Tuesdays. She can be reached at pattdiroll@earthlink.net.

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