Sunday, November 21, 2010

Around Town: Remembering Laura Canales

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 Dukelas, 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.

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."

During her tenure as president, Mrs. Canales took the Club back to its historic roots of community service. She conducted fundraisers at the Club for local scholarships, the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association, and the Fiesta Days Parade Committee. She preserved the history of the Club, both in the annual yearbook, in public presentations, and ultimately in the installation of a portrait of the Club's founder, Elizabeth Frances Knight. The portrait still hangs in the Club auditorium.

Laura is survived by her beloved husband of 53 years, Ricardo; her children Anthony (Sheila) Canales, Kim Canales, Michael (Suzanna) Canales, her grandsons Hunter and Gregory Canales, and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews throughout California, the US and in Mexico.

We will all miss her.

Donations may be made to the Thursday Club's Centennial Garden in her honor. Donations may be mailed to the La Cañada Thursday Club (P.O. Box 282, La Cañada, Flintridge CA 91012-0282). Please note "Centennial Garden donation in memory of Laura Canales."

Tower of Tuna count, as of Tuesday: 47. The Tower of Tuna, constructed of cans of the fish that will be donated to people in need during the holiday season, continues to grow in the Valley Sun lobby, 727 Foothill Blvd., La Cañada. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Also, The Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge is collecting non-perishable food items in conjunction with its annual Thanksgiving Day Run and Food Drive. A collection bin for this drive is also set up in the Valley Sun office. Readers are invited to contribute to either of these charitable efforts.

Around Town: Remembering Laura Canales - LA Canada
Around Town: Remembering Laura Canales - Fox17 WHNT
Around Town: Remembering Laura Canales -

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