Pat Anderson named La Cañan of the year

Teary-eyed Pat Anderson thanks the large crowd gathered at the annual Kiwanis Club of La Cañada's La Cañadan of the Year luncheon where she was honored with the title, at Descanso Gardens on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. Anderson is the La Cañada Chamber of Commerce CEO. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / April 30, 2014)

For her tireless efforts to promote and represent the city of La Cañada Flintridge in all things, to enhance community spirit and, in her case, to literally take care of business, Pat Anderson has been named "La Cañadan of the Year."

The president and chief executive of the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce was officially bestowed with the title in a ceremony Wednesday held at Descanso Gardens by the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada.

Leading the personal tributes, Anderson's younger sister, Marilyn Smith praised the honoree for her organizational and multitasking abilities, as well as her devotion to family.

Smith recalled how her older sister became a maternal figure for her after the untimely deaths of their parents, providing a home and emotional support.

"I don't know what I would have done without her," she said, before addressing Anderson's fellow Kiwanians. "I thank you for honoring my sister. She has blessed my life and the lives of others."

Former state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, also a former mayor of this city, paid tribute to the woman he called "a facilitator in chief," crediting her strong presence in city affairs, attending nearly every City Council meeting and generally keeping everyone honest.

He recounted stories of her, shovel in hand, picking up post-Fiesta Days fireworks debris, and reminded Kiwanians and officials in attendance that they were likely first brought together, in some way, as the result of Anderson's leadership.

"She's frankly the Little Engine that Could, your favorite grandmother and the CEO of a corporation all rolled up in one person," Portantino said.

When it was time for her tribute, former LCF Chamber Chairman Barbara Marshall presented Anderson a certificate of recognition from Chico's, a store frequented by Anderson, proclaiming an honorary parking spot had been created especially for her.

Marshall also presented Anderson with a gift basket from fellow former chairs Wes Seastrom and Terri Walker, who could not be present for the event.

After the personal tributes, other dignitaries and representatives from elected officials' offices lined up to present the new La Cañadan of the Year with their own proclamations and certificates of recognition. Presenters spoke on behalf of state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), state Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) and L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

La Cañada Unified School District Superintendent Wendy Sinnette and newly appointed Mayor Mike Davitt also commended Anderson for her support and dedication. Davitt estimated the woman had attended close to 800 City Council meetings in years past.

"We always say there's not really five people on the Council, there's six — and the sixth person is Pat Anderson," Davitt said.

In her acceptance remarks, Anderson choked back tears as she expressed her own gratitude to those in attendance and the larger community.

"I'm blessed to have you all here today to share in this great honor," she added. "(And) I'm deeply honored and moved by this award and everything that's been said here."

Joking about not keeping the event, in true Kiwanian fashion, longer than 1:30 p.m., Anderson closed with a quote.

"Do more than exist, live. Do more than touch, feel. Do more than look, see. Do more than listen, and above all, do more than talk, say something," she said, her eyes filling up with tears. "Thank you."

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Follow Sara Cardine on Twitter: @SaraCardine.

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