Westchester is mourning the passing of one of its most active and dedicated citizens, past honorary mayor Mary Lou Crockett, who passed away Friday, October 15th, of natural causes. She was 66.

A former City of Los Angeles library commissioner and former member of the City of Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners, Mary Lou was widely recognized as a font of historic information about the West-chester community and one of the community’s most involved citizens.

Mary Lou was raised in Westchester, graduating from Westchester High School and UCLA.

Mary Lou had been a local Realtor since 1963, starting with the family firm of Otto Cripps Realty. This became Cripps Crockett Realtors in 1967. In 1992, Cripps Crockett Realtors transformed into Cripps Crockett Connection, a three-generation family firm, under the business umbrella of RE/MAX.

In 1996, Mary Lou entered the RE/MAX Hall of Fame. From 1992 to last year, Mary Lou was the top producer in the West-chester/Playa del Rey office, and in the top five sales producers company-wide for RE/MAX Beach Cities. She was also recently awarded with the RE/MAX Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mary Lou has served on numerous Boards of Realtors and various associations and committees.

A partial list of her involvement includes:

n Cofounder of Community Plans, Inc.; president, 1968 to 1974;

n Cofounder of Friends of the Library of the Westchester/Loyola Village Library;

n President of the City of Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners 1980 and 1981 and member of the board, 1979ñ1984;

n President of the California Library Trustees and Commissioners in 1989 and 1990;

n Westchester honorary mayor in 1989 and 1990;

n City of Los Angeles Board of Library commissioner from 1984 to 1993;

n Loyola Marymount University Continuing Education Advisory Board member;

n Chairperson and founder of the Westchester/Playa del Rey Historical Society from 1989 to her death;

n President of the Westchester Vitalization Corporation; and

n Treasurer of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey Steering Committee, on which she worked tirelessly for many months bringing the current Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey to fruition.

As a member of the city Board of Airport Commissioners, Mary Lou was instrumental in establishing noise standards for California airports and played an important role in securing soundproofing for the homes that neighbor Los Angeles International Airport.

“Mary Lou simply was Westchester,” said Gwen Vuchsas, Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa del Rey president.

“She will always be a part of this community because she gave so much to it during her life.”

Last year, Mary Lou was honored with the Fritz B. Burns Outstanding Community Service Award, which commemorated Burns’ own lifelong dedication to community-building and honors individuals who have served as outstanding role models for community leadership.

The award included a check that Crockett promptly distributed to the Friends of the Library of the Westchester/Loyola Village Library, the Westchester Fourth of July Parade and the Westchester/Playa del Rey Historical Society.

“These organizations are helping to stimulate the cultural life of our Westchester community and build up its coherence and continuity,” said Crockett.

“They help create the kind of spirit that Fritz Burns was talking about when he spoke of building a ‘total community'”

She was a benevolent financial contributor to many, many nonprofit organizations and she always donated funds without looking for publicity or fanfare.

During the years, she has made sizable donations to the Westchester YMCA, Westchester Fire Station, Airport Marina Counseling Service, Los Angeles Police Foundation, Historical Society of Centinela Valley, Westchester Symphony Society, League of Women Voters Education Fund, Westchester Playa del Rey Historical Society and Friends of Ballona Wetlands and Flight Path Learning Center Scholarship Fund.

Her most recent philanthropical commitment was to Access to Ideas, which distributes books to children in remote areas of Russia to promote a bridge between American children and Russian children.

At the behest of Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, the Los Angeles City Council adjourned Tuesday, October 19th, in the memory of Mary Lou.

“Mary Lou was such a positive force in the community,” Miscikowski said. “Her love for the community was unparalleled and tireless. Her contributions were remarkable and she was a true gift.

“My heart goes out to her family,” the councilwoman said.

“Mary Lou was a pillar of commitment and dedication to the Westchester community,” said Tisha de Felice, Westchester Family YMCA executive director, which was the beneficiary of her generous support.

Always looking to better the community, she started the West-chester Fourth of July Parade in 2000 as part of the Historical Society celebration of the Millennium. That annual event now draws thousands of local residents to celebrate the nation’s birth.

“Our chamber lost a great friend and wonderful person with this morning’s passing of Mary Lou Crockett,” said Tony Cian-cimino, Westchester/LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce executive director.

“She was a bright spirit of what community should be all about, and she leaves a void that cannot be filled.”

At the time of her death, Mary Lou was working on a book about the history of the West-chester community.

She is survived by her mother, Lorene Cripps; her brother Jim Cripps; her sister Susie; her daughter, Patty Crockett Richmond; and her two grandchildren, Jacob and Kylie Richmond.

Services will be held Saturday, November 6th, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Playa Vista CenterPoint Club, 6200 Playa Vista Drive. Please park in the north parking lot and shuttles will transport to club.

Charities Mary Lou supported include:

n The Westchester/Playa del Rey Historical Society;

n Access to Ideas;

n LAX Food Pantry;

n Westchester Family YMCA;

n Friends of Ballona Wetlands;

n Friends of the Library;

n Flight Path Learning Center

n Westchester Mental Health Guild; and

n The Westchester/Marina Symphony.

LMU TIP-OFF DINNER —An annual Basketball Tip-off Dinner has become a tradition for the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) men’s basketball team.

This year the Lions will begin their 2004-05 basketball season with the traditional dinner in the LMU Ahmanson Dining Room at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, October 30th.

The dinner has had a custom of featuring basketball legends with ties to LMU.

This year the featured speaker will be Kurt Rambis of the Los Angeles Lakers and a former star in the West Coast Conference.

The dinner will also highlight the upcoming 2004-05 season for the Lions as they look to take the next step in the West Coast Conference.

Fifth-year head coach Steve Aggers began the dinner tradition at the start of his second season in 2001.

Aggers will introduce this year’s players and give his take on why the excitement is back in LMU basketball.

Also, the LMU Cheer Squad and mascot will perform at the dinner.

No-host cocktails are planned at 5:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $50 and available at (310) 338-4504.

LMU officially opens its basketball season at 2:05 p.m. Saturday, November 20th, when they take on Monmouth College at Gersten Pavilion.

HOLIDAYS COMING — We’ve had our first rain since April and we can feel the chill of autumn in the air.

We can almost smell that turkey roasting in the oven and hear the cheery jingle of sleigh bells on a cold winter morning.

It is Holiday Home Tour season in Westchester.

The Westchester Mental Health Guild has been in full swing for months now preparing a community event that will knock Santa’s socks off — and yours as well.

The Guild will host the 22nd Annual Westchester Holiday Home Tour Sunday, November 7th.

On the gift list for all good girls and boys is a beautiful selection of local homes that will inspire and delight — and make everyone realize that there’s no place like home for the holidays.

With houses scattered in an area from the Playa del Rey bluff to the eastern edge of Westport Heights, this year’s five tour homes range from a palatial 5,200-square-foot entertainer’s dream in which to ring in the New Year, to a cozy casita in which to celebrate a “Feliz Navidad.”

Each home will be decorated to celebrate a different holiday.

Also on the day’s list of treats is the wonderful Holiday Boutique, put on by the ladies of the Guilded Cage.

There will also be a display of vintage cars — all conveniently located at the Westchester Woman’s Club, at 8020 Alverstone Ave. in Westchester, where participants can shop, check out the cars and enjoy refreshments as they gather with friends and neighbors to celebrate the spirit of the holidays.

And in the tradition of holiday giving, event planners hope to make this the most successful Home Tour yet, in order to give Airport Marina Counseling Service the best gift of all — a great big check to support the vital work it does in providing mental health services to those in need within our community.

Tickets for the tour and reception are $20 per person and available at the Guilded Cage Gift Shop, 8917-B Sepulveda Blvd., in the Ralphs center behind Togo’s Eatery.

Tickets may also be purchased on the day of the event at the Westchester Woman’s Club. Information, (310) 641-7850.

HAUNTED HOUSE — A spooky haunted house is planned at Westchester Park, 7000 Manchester Ave., from 7 to 11:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 29th, 30th and 31st.

This year, Westchester Park will be offering a “Little Goblin” play area for children who do not want to attend the Haunted House.

The cost of the play area will be $3 per hour, and arts and crafts, carnival games, inflatables and a goody bag are included.

Information, the Westchester Recreation Center, (310) 670-7473.


PRECAUTIONS — The City of Los Angeles Department of Animal Services cautions residents to take special safety precautions during Halloween to ensure that the holiday is safe and enjoyable for children and family companion animals.

Halloween can be frightening for many animals, and the noise, costumes and activity can be threatening and bewildering.

The department joins other local animal control agencies in restricting the adoption and release of black cats from shelters during Halloween, as they often become the target of pranks and abuse during the holiday.

Black cats will not be available for adoption through Tuesday, November 2nd.

The cats will be held through the holiday, and shelter adoption partners and rescue groups will be exempt from the holiday hold.

The department suggests leaving pets at home, indoors, in a secure and quiet room, away from children, and restricting their access to jack-o’-lanterns and candles.

Also remember to have traceable identification on your pets, not to give them Halloween candy and, if dressing them in costume, to ensure that their breathing, movement and vision aren’t restricted.

Information, www.LAAnimalServices.com