Gene
Drevno, Gene Alice, beloved mother, grandmother, friend, and citizen of Torrance, died September 1, 2008 at the age of 78 of cancer. Gene was born June 20, 1930, in Phoenix, Arizona to Edward and Alice Fay. When she was two years old Gene's mother died of tuberculosis, leaving her twenty-four year old father to care for her. Her father had a profound impact on her. He taught her the importance of being a strong, loving parent, having a sense of humor, and the gift of story telling. Gene recalls being described as a "willful child," but in her words, "I really just did what I wanted to do." It was this tenacity that aided her through her life and its challenges. As a nursing student, Gene went to pick up a prescription and met a pharmacist named Harold behind the counter. Six weeks later they eloped. In 1956, Gene and Harold moved to their home in Torrance where they raised a family of nine children. In addition to being a busy mom, Gene also found time to volunteer in the classroom and hold elected offices in all the PTA's of her children's schools. She served twenty-nine years on the PTA as President, Ways and Means Chairperson, Event Coordinator for school carnival fundraisers, and numerous other positions. All of her children attended Riviera Elementary and graduated from South High School. When Gene was forty-three years old, her beloved husband Harold died unexpectedly, leaving her with nine children ranging in ages from four to twenty. The love and support she received from the community during this time influenced her to reach beyond the PTA and to serve others in the city of Torrance. Her volunteer activities over the years were many and varied: American Field Service, Hospice Volunteer, School Site Member Community Volunteer, South High School Booster President, Torrance Parks and Rec, Civil Service Commission, Salvation Army Advisory Board, Torrance Planning Commission, and the Torrance Education Foundation, for which she had a particular enthusiasm, becoming its president within a year of her participation. In her time with the Torrance Ed Foundation she was instrumental in establishing teacher grants, student scholarships, and serving as the coordinator and hostess to one of the biggest annual fund raising dinners in the city. Gene's greatest passion was for the well-being of children, particularly those who were less advantaged. She worked for the Torrance Unified School District for thirty years, beginning with her first job as an instructional assistant at Hull Middle School. There she went beyond the expectations of her job description and created a learning resource/library center for the students, while also providing a loving and receptive environment for them. Her core belief that all children need a hug, and some need to be held even longer, became the hallmark of her career. Gene eventually moved on to the position of Special Education Liaison to SCROC for the special needs secondary students of the Torrance Unified School District. She became the consummate advocate for these students and had a remarkable impact on their lives. Gene encouraged them, guided them, provided them with job training, taught them to contribute to their community, and educated them on the ways to become a valued employee and citizen. Her work continued with the joint efforts of the TUSD and the City with the Green Team, the Private Industry Council and the federally-funded Summer Youth Employment Training Program. Gene retired from the Torrance Unified School District in June, 2006. Her introduction to retirement was to be appointed a member of the Torrance City Council, an opportunity she cherished and a position she thoroughly enjoyed. She felt privileged to serve the city she loved and valued her two years in office, referring to them as her, "golden years." The people Gene met through her volunteer positions, work with TUSD, and the City Council became extended family members in her life, relationships she treasured. Gene was unique. She was an extraordinary woman with a compassionate and generous spirit combined with a legendary sense of humor. She imparted advice when asked for (and sometimes not), often with humor, but always with wisdom. Gene liked nothing more than having her children and grandchildren around, thriving on the resulting chaos. During her final days, the house was filled with family and friends going in and out of her room, noise and laughter drifting through the door. "What a wonderful going away party you've thrown me," she told them. She died peacefully, surrounded by family, in a room filled with love. There are no words to describe how deeply she will be missed by all who knew her and felt blessed to have her in their lives. Gene was preceded in death by her parents, Edward and Alice Fay, her stepmother, Lillian Fay, and her husband, Harold. She is survived by her nine children and twenty-nine grandchildren. Her children are: Michael (Linda) Drevno of San Diego, Mark (Carol) Drevno of Lafayette, Gregg (Edel) Drevno of Milford, DE, Gary (Carole) Drevno of Martinez, Brian (Diana) Drevno of San Pedro, Brad (Holly) Drevno of Westport, CT, Ann Drevno (Scot) Arnold of Lawrenceville, GA, Wendy Drevno (Darrell) York of Castaic, and Tim (Shannon) Drevno of Menlo Park. Her grandchildren are David, Nichole, Jessica, Rachel (Josh), Peter, Christopher, Emily-Jean, Steven, Matthew, Clay, Cody, William, Kimberly, Wesley, Michelle, James, Olivia, Lianna, Jeffrey, McKenna, Robert, Harrison, Katie, Zachary, Cory, Lily, Baylee, Anna, and Liam. Visitation will be held Sunday, September 7 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM at the Rice Mortuary in Torrance. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Monday, September 8, 2008 at 10:00 AM at St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach. The celebration of Gene's life will continue at a reception in the church hall at 11:30 followed by her internment at Green Hills Memorial Park in Rancho Palos Verdes. Per Gene's request, in lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Torrance Education Foundation in her name (www.torranceeducationfoundation.org).

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  1. Gene was one of the most impactful people in my life as a mentor, friend and co-worker. I am deeply grateful for over 18 years of laughter and friendship that she gifted to me(on a daily basis at SCROC). I am grateful to her family and friends that came to be with her in her final days. Unfortunately, I was not there for her going away party but I know that Gene was aware of my love for her. My last rememberance of her was enjoying in and out burgers with her and Pat,Dyann at her kitchen table. I also remember the time she showed up on my front porch and woke me up to get to work as I had slept in and she was worried about me. Gene had style and always looked so beautifully dressed, her hair always perfect! I cannot believe how much strength she had for herself and for everyone else around her. She surely must have known that as she had more help during this last year than she could imagine. Thank you to the people who could be there and help- this is true love! Gene was happy to eat real food that everyone prepared for her. She told me from her bed in Torrance Memorial “Terry, I can’t wait just to eat a bowl of cheerios!” after I asked her what was the first thing she craved besides hospital food. For Gene Drevno life was more than a box of choclates “It was a bowl of cheerios”. I want to eat from the same bowl of cheerios that Gene enjoyed upon returning home…. Good Bye Gene my friend and mentor. Thank you for giving me the time to get to know you…..and love you. Terry Irvine

  2. I will always remember Gene for her “piss and vinegar” and for the way she loved her kids. I worked with her for 10 years at SCROC and had the pleasure of knowing her prior to that when I worked at TUSD. We have laughed and cried and vented together. I think the one story I would have to share about Gene has to do with a young man she had worked with for a number of year. Through high school this young man was a frequent visitor in our home and actually lived with us for almost a year. He ended up making some very poor choices after high school and Gene and I use to talk about him and share our frustrations. A couple of weeks ago I ran into the young man. He has cleaned himself up and is now the father of a 3 year old step-daughter and a newborn daughter. He loves being a father and a loving husband to a beautiful wife. I thought about Gene and how she would be so proud of him and how he has became the man we always knew he could be. Oh, the love and pride she had in her children and grandchildren. Nary a day went by when there weren’t updates in one form or another on all their accomplishments. She always considered herself a rich woman with all the blessings life had brought her. I had the pleasure of joining Gene and many others as she was celebrated as Woman of the Year and watched with much joy the mutual pride and love her family shared with one another. My life has been made so much richer because of knowing Gene and I will always be grateful for having known her. Gene, I know we will see each other someday. In the meantime, don’t try to rework everything in heaven to make it better. Love, Gigi and Wes Thompson

  3. Dear Mike – I went to Riviera Elem. and So. High with you – perhaps you remember me. My husband and I as well as our two grown children are all residents of Torrance. Your mom is one of the reasons Torrance has such great schools and is still a wonderful place for families. My condolences to you and your entire family. Linda Self Bille

  4. I miss our early mornings phone calls to start the day off. I miss our evening chats with a scotch to mellow out. I miss our good times traveling together and laughing. I love you and miss you ever so much.

  5. Gene was quite a gal. I cherish the times that I worked with her when students were placed at the Torrance Fire Prevention Office. I so admired her work. She will be missed, my sincere condolences to her wonderful family. Maria Fresquez

  6. Gene was quite a gal. I cherish the times that I worked with her when students were placed at the Torrance Fire Prevention Office. I so admired her work. She will be missed, my sincere condolences to her wonderful family. Maria Fresquez

  7. How blessed we are to have been touched by Gene’s life. Her memory will forever warm our hearts, inspire our love of family, and strengthen our resolve to leave this earth a better place. If God’s voice had a sound, it would be Gene’s—bringing laughter, love, warmth, candor, and spirit to one’s soul. All our love to the Drevno Clan. The Five Fine Feins

  8. Mrs. Drevno was a kind and thoughtful woman. She was always smiling and joking. She was the type of person that would make your day when you were down. Mrs. Drevno will be truly missed by those she touched in her life.

  9. Gary and family, I was sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. I heard lots of stories about your Mother and your growing up years From Gary. Please extend my sympathy to all. Gary Please email me if you can so I know you are well.

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