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Around Town: Remembering Laura Canales

November 18, 2010|By Anita S. Brenner

It has been a sad week in La Cañada. Memorial services were held Monday at Wee Kirk o' the Heather at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale for La Cañada Thursday Club past president, Laura Diane Canales. Mrs. Canales died on Nov. 5 of cancer. She was 71 years old.

During her tenure as president (1986-1988), Laura Canales made a point of reaching out to a younger and diverse club membership. IShe actively recruited younger women, including me. She went out of her way to welcome our family at a time when there were very few Hispanic families in town. She was particularly kind to my husband, Len Torres, and to our children. She taught me how to put on a tea. She taught my daughter how to bake pâte à choux.

Mrs. Canales, the former Laura Dukakis, was born and raised in Los Angeles. She graduated from St. Agnes High School. She married Ricardo Canales in 1957 and moved to La Cañada Flintridge in 1974, where their three children attended local schools, and she resumed her college education. She received her B.A. in business from California State University, Los Angeles in 1984.

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In 1977, Mrs. Canales joined the La Cañada Thursday Club. She continued to serve on the board and, until recently, in other capacities. In 1986, she was installed as the 60th president of the Club. She excelled at public speaking. She was an excellent chef with a large repertoire of recipes that ranged from traditional Greek and Mexican cuisine to complicated French cooking techniques. She loved arts and crafts and had a passion for international travel. She volunteered in many civic activities, including manning local polling locations.

Elaine La Marr, a local photo journalist, told me, "Laura Canales made a point of greeting new members to the Club. When I first joined the Thursday Club 12 years ago, Laura was one of the first people to come up to welcome me. She always made sure that new members felt that they were part of the Club. She was very kind that way."

Cecelia Bloomquist, who moved to La Cañada in 1988, was also sponsored for membership by Laura Canales: "Laura was the most inclusive, loving and caring member of the Thursday Club. She welcomed me into her family and to La Cañada."

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