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Passages: Patti Laursen and Emaline Rich

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Thursday, July 18, 2013
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From Chapter reports

Patti Laursen, 85, forest activist and classical music producer

Patti Laursen started listening to classical music when she was 3 years old, and not long after that, her parents took her hiking. She went on to become one of the first female classical recording producers - and a fierce environmental activist with the Angeles Chapter.
She passed away June 16.

"I remember as a child standing under coastal redwoods and seeing shafts of light coming through the branches," Laursen told a Sierra Club publication in 1999. "There is something utterly spiritual and monumental about that, like listening to a Bach chorale. It's a gift from God."

She became chair of the Angeles Chapter's Ancient Forest Task Force in the 1990s and a member of the Sequoia Task Force. Laursen received a Conservation Service award from the Chapter for her successful work in 1996.

"Patti was fearless in her commitment to protecting our forests, puncturing agency posturing with her dry humor and warm laughter," says Bill Corcoran, western regional campaign director for the Beyond Coal, Sierra Club. "Her unerring touch for delivering an adroitly pitched question wrapped around a barb was a delight to experience in more than one Forest Service meeting as we labored to protect Sequoia National Forest and its giant sequoias. She was a friend, an advocate, and a mentor. Her gracious manner, broad range of interests as well as her high tensile strength resolve epitomized the best tradition of the Sierra Club volunteer leader. She leaves a great legacy for future generations to enjoy."

Laursen's professional career was successful too. She was an internationally renowned classical music recording producer who worked for Captol, Angel and EMI record labels. Commencing her recording career in the 1960s, Patti Laursen was one of the first female record producers and an industry leader in the “digital revolution” in the late 1970s.  Laursen was nominated for the “Classical Producer of the Year” Grammy in 1990.

Born Patti Whitney in South Pasadena in 1927, she was the youngest of the six children of Patti and Howard Almeron Whitney. Laursen earned a Bachelor of Arts from California State University, Los Angeles in 1950.  She was married to artist Tom Laursen who died in 1992.

When asked about her commitment to being a champion for the forests, she said: "Our national forests must be protected so future generations can have the same experience I had as a child - being awed by forests and having that be part of my life forever.""

--Teresa Myers and Sierra Club reports

Emaline Rich, 94, co-founder of San Fernando Valley Gorup

Anyone who has attended a San Fernando Valley Sierra Club Group meeting will remember a tiny, smiling lady with white curly hair and bright blue eyes who greeted people as they signed in at the Membership Table. This petite woman, who loved to chat with visitors as they milled around the table, was Emaline Rich, the group's beloved Co-Membership Chair.
 
Rich passed away on June 17. 
 
Rich was an integral part of the San Fernando Valley group.  She, along with her husband, Art Rich, founded the group in 1960.  At that time meetings were held in a park in Studio City. Eventually Rich obtained the Reseda Park Recreation Center as our permanent meeting place.
 
Active in all areas of the Angeles Chapter, she served as chair of the San Fernando Valley Group from 1991-93, and also had served as Program Chair and Membership Chair in past years. 

The Sierra Club recognized her dedication by honoring her with  two Special Service Awards, one in 1980 and one in 2002.
 
Rich enjoyed camping and hiking -- and she and her husband did plenty of both. But outdoor activities weren't her only passion. She loved to paint in oils, and was great reader and traveler. 

Above all she loved and cherished her two daughters, Bonnie and Beth, and their familiesd. A memorial service for Emaline Rich will be held on Saturday, July 20, from 12 to 3 p.m. in Woodland Hills. If you are interested in attending, please call her daughter Beth at (702) 376-0026.

—Julie Szende, San Fernando Valley Group

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