Thursday, January 26, 2012

Louise Booth

I heard today that local historian Louise Booth has died.

I don't have anything like an obituary put together, but I do know she was a longtime member and a past president of the Orange County Historical Society. She was also the general chair of the Orange County Centennial Committee, and wrote numerous books, including Villa Park : Then and Now, Fulfilling a Dream: The History of Chapman University, and One to Twenty-Eight : A History of Anaheim Union High School District. She was also a major contributor to the invaluable Centennial Bibliography of Orange County, California

Services will be at the Chapman College Chapel, Feb. 25 at 10:30 a.m.

UPDATE: Don Booth just sent me the following announcement, which has been circulating at Chapman University:

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing on January 24 of Louise Booth, the wife of Dr. Don Booth.  Louise’s health had declined rapidly in recent days.  Don, long time professor of economics, and their son David, a graduate of Chapman, were at her bedside.

Louise was intelligent, independent, and possessing of diverse interests and great strength.  She had a special presence.  When Louise entered a room, you knew it, and it wasn’t just because of her red hair.

A graduate of Indiana State University, Louise completed her postgraduate work at the University of Southern California.  After teaching English, speech, drama, and history thirty-five years, she retired to begin a second professional career – writing on a variety of historical topics, a great personal love.  She relished traveling to historical sites, finding new documents and verifying facts.

Louise chaired the Centennial Committee of the county-wide Orange County Historical Society working for four years in planning a large array of public events.  The profits funded the publication, The Centennial Bibliography of Orange County, California.  As the managing editor, Louise received the Donald F. Pflueger Award for distinguished research and writing on local history of southern California.  In 1989 Louise also received the William T. Glassell Award from the Orange Community Historical Society for service preserving the local heritage of the city of Orange.

In addition to this work, Louise published six historical monographs, three of them on the Civil War.  In 2001, Fulfilling A Dream – The History of Chapman University, was published.  Louise devoted many months to the research and writing of the book.  A remarkable document, it continues to serve as the most comprehensive, as well as the most interesting, story of Chapman’s history.

The book won the 61st annual Western Book Exhibition (2002) award sponsored annually by the Los Angeles based Rounce and Coffin Club.  This award was for books judged to be the best examples of printing, design, and publishing in the western United States.

Louise was a complete and vital partner to Don, and this partnership contributed tremendously to Chapman in a myriad of ways.  Despite her demanding professional career, she was very engaged in the life of Chapman.  A great hostess, she enjoyed sharing her home.  Louise especially loved entertaining many of the speakers in Chapman’s famous Artist-Lecture Series.  She also served for a number of years on the archives committee of the Leatherby Libraries.

Louise and Don became surrogate parents and grandparents to countless students, especially those from abroad.  They were very proud of the success of these students and welcomed them back to their home years later when these alumni brought their own children to meet Louise and Don.

As news spread across campus about Louise’s passing, many individuals offered personal reflections about her.  Dr. Pat See, Professor of Sociology, remembered that Louise was a welcoming presence to her and to other young faculty members as we began our careers.  “She made us feel as if we were part of an extended family.  We dined at their home and enjoyed sharing her interests in history and Russian literature.  Louise was also a very caring teacher, who would go above and beyond the call of duty to help her students . . . , as well as Don's students at Chapman. . . .  These are the connections that make Chapman the place we love.”

David Moore, Director of Planned Giving, stated:  “Sharp of mind with a passion for local history, Louise was among my favorite Chapman people. Her book, Fulfilling a Dream – The History of Chapman University, is a constant resource. When I hear a name or historical reference, her book (with its meticulous index) is the first place I look. The Booth family has generously provided me with copies that I give to alumni and other friends of the university as I meet with them. Long beyond her passing, Louise's words will continue to have significant impact and influence on our ability to engage others.”

Claudia Horn, Head of Special Collections and Archives, Leatherby Libraries, who helped provide some of the resources for Fulfilling a Dream . .  . indicated how proud the library was to sponsor the traveling exhibition of the Western Book Exhibition award winners and hold a reception celebrating Louise. On a personal note, Claudia added that Louise “endeared herself to me because she was a historian, a lady, and always told it like it was—with a twinkle in her eye and a “saucy” sense of humor.  What a treasure Louise was and always will be to me.”

President Jim Doti expressed the following:  “Louise was a remarkable woman in so many ways.  I will always have warm memories of her spirit, intellect and sense of humor.  Her candor was refreshing.”     

The memorial service for Louise will be Saturday, February 25 at 10:30 am in the Wallace All Faiths Chapel.
 There's also an article about her in the online version of Chapman's Panther newspaper.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for the mention of Louise's passing. I never met her but use her book often as I am the "unofficial" historian at Savanna High School in Anaheim.

Just an FYI about Savanna. We are celebrating our 50th birthday this year, and to continue celebrating our 50th year, on Tuesday, February 7th, we will be inducting MLB pitcher and current color commentator for the St. Louis Cardinals, Al Hrabosky, "The Mad Hungarian," into our sports Wall of Fame. The ceremony will take place during halftime of the boy's varsity basketball game. We will also have memorabilia and ephemera on display from Al's years at Savanna, and Al will be in attendance.
Valerie Winters

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