Women’s History Month | Library Celebrates Influential South Pasadenans

Display inside the South Pasadena Library honors former South Pasadena Mayor Dorothy Cohen

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | The Women’s History Month Display on Dorothy Cohen showcases a mere sampling of her many impressive awards

South Pasadena’s storied history, both past and present, has benefitted greatly from the monumental contributions of women.

Presently, South Pasadena has two women on its City Council: Councilmember Diana Mahmud and Mayor Marina Khubesrian, MD. Previously, South Pasadena has been led by other female mayors, including: Alva Lee Arnold (1919-2004 and mayor from 1983 to 1984), Evelyn Fierro (mayor in 1992), Dorothy Cohen (1926-2018 and mayor from 1996-1997 and 2000-2001), Diana Mahmud (mayor from 2013-2014). Dr. Marina Khubesrian initially served as mayor for the 2013-2014 term.

PHOTO: South Pasadena Public Library | SouthPasadenan.com News | Dorothy Cohen won both major statewide awards for volunteers at the California Library Association Annual Conference in Pasadena in 2009

Besides the aforementioned, any list of prominent South Pasadena women in history would include:

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  • Lucretia Garfield (1832-1918) was the former First Lady of the U.S. who moved to South Pasadena after President James A. Garfield (1831-1881) was assassinated.


  • Margaret Collier Graham (1850-1910) was a leading literary stylist of her day and the wife of the City’s first Mayor, Donald Graham (1847?-1892?)


  • Alice Millard (1873-1938) is known as the first female high end antiquarian book dealer.


  • Nelbert Chouinard (1879-1969) was one of the foremost arts educators of the 20th Century, training many extremely famous artists, after founding the Chouinard Art Institute in LA.


  • Norma Le Valley (?-2017) was the longtime editor of the South Pasadena Review and The Quarterly.


Cohen, former mayor of South Pasadena, passed away last year at age 92. She had devoted half of her very full life to the City of South Pasadena, and was especially devoted to the local library during her last years.

Dorothy, a co-founder of the Friends Bookstore, served as its volunteer coordinator for 35 years.  On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2018, a fittingly lively memorial for Dorothy was convened in the South Pasadena Library Community Room with a full house of family, friends, associates, expressing their admiration, love, and reflections.

Memorial donations in Dorothy’s honor were made to the Friends of the South Pasadena Public Library. Dorothy’s family also donated Dorothy’s personal book collection to the Friends Bookstore. The family also donated the dozens of framed awards and proclamations Dorothy amassed through the years to the local history archives of the South Pasadena Public Library. A sampling of the awards are being used for a “Remembering Dorothy Cohen” display in the case inside the library’s main entrance during March for “Women’s History Month.”