Margaret Wallace 1930-2017 – Co-Founder of Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library Bookstore

A Remembrance of One of Our "Fab Four" by Steven Fjelsted

PHOTO: Assembled (l to r) During the 35th Anniversary Celebration of the Friends Bookstore are Andy Lipmann, Vice President of the Library Board of Trustees, Councilmember Marina Khubesrian, M.D., Bookstore Co-Founder and Former Mayor Dorothy Cohen, Co-Founder Margaret Wallce, Councilmember Diana Mahmud and Mayor Pro Tem Richard D. Schneider, M.D.

Margaret Emily Wallace, 87, a longtime active member of the South Pasadena community, passed away on September 12.  Margaret was born in Greeley, Colorado in 1930 to Henry Carlyle and Lois Mary (Dyekman) Sandusky and was the youngest of four siblings.  Though she considered herself a Californian, Margaret cherished growing up on her family’s Colorado farm. She attended the University of Colorado in Boulder and in 1953, she married Dale Thomas Wallace and they moved to Los Angeles before settling on Edgewood Drive in South Pasadena in 1960. Until her passing, Margaret lived there for 57 years.

Margaret is survived by daughters Leslie Ruth and Kelly Carlyle Wallace, grandson Charles Trendacosta, brother Craig Sandusky and his wife Vonda, sister Mary Lois Aspinwall, and many nieces and nephews.  She was preceded in death by husband Tom, eldest brother Samuel Sandusky, and son-in-law Albert Charles Trendacosta.  Memorial donations in honor of Margaret Wallace may be made to the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library, a 501(c)3 nonprofit.

While her children were in school, Margaret served as president of the PTA and volunteered in the Marengo School Library.  Margaret also worked tirelessly to fight the 710 Freeway extension. Nevertheless, Margaret was most proud of her role, along with Beverly Engler, Sally Swan and Dorothy Cohen, in creating the Friends Bookstore in the South Pasadena Public Library. It continues as a 7 day a week, all-volunteer operation and has raised about $1.2 million for library improvements since it opened in 1982.

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Dorothy Cohen and Margaret Wallace enjoy the moment at the 35th anniversary celebration of the Friends Bookstore

On July 31, 2017, the Friends Bookstore celebrated its 35th Birthday with a ceremony that featured members of the South Pasadena City Council, the Library Board of Trustees, Friends members, and an assortment of bookstore fans and Library staff members.  A commemorative bronze plaque recognizing the four Bookstore founders, nicknamed the ‘Fab Four’, was unveiled and birthday cake, lemonade, and wine were served by the Friends Hospitality Committee.  The two surviving founders, Margaret Wallace and Dorothy Cohen were in attendance and all smiles. Dorothy continues with her great volunteer support of the bookstore. Mark Langill, official historian of the Los Angeles Dodgers, offered words of praise for the bookstore co-founders and displayed the book he purchased as a youngster that first sparked his interest in baseball, which eventually led to his dream job.

In 1981, the Fab Four banded together to give birth to the Friends Bookstore. They obtained unneeded library bookcases to furnish the store and, through the generosity of the United States Postal Service, worked in the cramped basement of the Post Office in South Pasadena for 18 months. They solicited and picked up donated books and sorted them in the cramped, stuffy quarters. During that time they also sorted and priced books to stock the small retail space on the second floor of the expanded, renovated library when it opened on July 31, 1982.

During its storied lifespan, the Friends Bookstore has encouraged the donation of many fine items from the community that have been added directly to the Library collection. The Bookstore has also continually saved the best of their new and nearly new donations for their annual Holiday Book Sales. They Bookstore volunteers have also conducted silent auctions and special sales of various types.

In the early years of the Friends Book Store, a good month might bring in only about $300, but the sales volume, the clientele, and the revenue have been built up over time, but the great prices have been a constant. During the last two years, more than $100,000 was raised for the Library by the Bookstore, despite the disappearance of a great many other bookstores in Los Angeles County and beyond. Through the years the Friends Bookstore has not only sold uncountable thousands of books of all sizes and types, but also phonograph records, audio and video cassettes, laser discs, CDs, DVDs, and even jigsaw puzzles. Before they could be sold, of course, all of these items had to be sifted through, sorted, and priced.  At any given time, the size of the bookstore  is fluctuating due to the time availability of its many dedicated volunteers. Those interested in volunteering for the Friends of the Library Bookstore are requested to call (626) 441-5294.