Longtime Westchester resident Shirley Pfeil, a former honorary mayor of Westchester who was active in several community groups, including the then-Westchester/LAX Chamber of Commerce, the Westchester Woman’s Club and the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association), has died. She was 90.
Pfeil, who was named one of the “365 persons of the year” for the bicentennial of the City of Los Angeles, died Sunday, September 9th, from complications of surgery.
“If you talked to her, she would tell you she was going to get out of the hospital, get her own place, buy a new car and take the train to visit her friends in Westchester,” her son Jim Pfeil said. “Eternal optimism and a quick wit were my mom’s hallmark.”
Pfeil and her husband moved from Chicago to Los Angeles in November 1947.
The Pfeils bought their new house at 79th Street and Bleriot Avenue in Westchester for $13,000.
After moving to Westchester, Pfeil worked at Sid’s baby furniture store and her husband worked for a propane company.
To make friends and get involved in the community, Pfeil joined the Westchester Woman’s Club in 1948, where she made close friends that she and her husband have had for over 60 years, her son said.
She later got involved with a local PTA, where she served as president for two years.
A citation Pfeil received in the YMCA’s Golden Book of Distinguished Service said, “There were little more than dreams and ambitions when Shirley moved to Westchester in 1947, and almost immediately she began converting those visions to reality.
“Her purpose was the construction of a vital, vibrant community — and there would be no community without a YMCA.”
Pfeil was named honorary mayor of Westchester in 1976, and was also an honorary member of both the Airport Lions Club and the Optimist Club.
She received the Paul Harris award from the Rotary Club and has been honored by such organizations as the American Red Cross, United Crusade, KNX Radio (as citizen of the week), and the American Cancer Society.
She was also an Argonaut columnist for a time.
Pfeil was an honorary life member of the PTA and was involved with the YMCA and the Westchester/LAX Chamber of Commerce for over 40 years.
Among the numerous other local groups Pfeil was involved with are the Boy Scouts, Job’s Daughters, AFS and the Westchester Mental Health Guild.
Another of her accomplishments for the community included starting the “Holiday Home Tour” for the Westchester Mental Health Guild, which benefits the Airport Marina Counseling service.
Pfeil also owned a Westchester greeting service and over the years she welcomed over 27,000 new residents to the community, her son said.
It was said that “her warmth and happy concern about others has given us more than houses in the city — she has given us homes filled with friends in a close knit home town.”
Pfeil was recognized for helping to raise funds to bring the first paramedic ambulance to Fire Station Five in Westchester.
Pfeil and her husband were also recognized for paying for the “Welcome to Westchester” monument at the east end of Sepulveda Boulevard.
Asked what accomplishment she was most proud of, Pfeil said, “Raising my three kids,” her son recalled.
“My home has always come first no matter what I do,” Pfeil said.
Pfeil and her husband were married for over 50 years.
She is survived by her children Bob, Lynn and Jim; her nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service for Pfeil is scheduled at 2 p.m. Monday, September 17th, at the Westchester United Methodist Church, 8065 Emerson Ave., Westchester.