June 20, 1930 ~ September 1, 2008
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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