First published in the April 21 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
The annual Les Tupper Award recipients will be honored by the La Cañada Flintridge Coordinating Council on Monday, April 25, with the awards presented at Flintridge Prep’s Norris Auditorium at 7 p.m.
The free event is open to the public and will recognize three individuals, two students and one organization for volunteer work in the community of La Cañada Flintridge.
These awards are named after Les Tupper, a longtime community volunteer who dedicated much of his life to service. They are presented annually to individuals and groups in recognition of their service to the community.
LCF Sister Cities Association
The La Cañada Flintridge Sister Cities Association provides our community with an opportunity to make friends around the world and have fun while doing it. LCF Sister Cities is made up of volunteers from all walks of life: teachers, students, business people, artists, elected officials, health care professionals and retirees.
The association was founded in 2016 by President Vicki Schwartz, a former Sister City exchange student herself. Its mission is to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation: one individual, one community at a time.
In 2017, LCF Mayor Michael Davitt signed a Sister Cities Partnership Agreement with Villanueva de la Cañada, a charming suburb of Madrid, Spain, which is home to the European Space Astronomy Centre and partners with JPL. Later that year, JPL project manager and LCHS parent Art Chmielewski founded the International Space Academy, a program designed to include high school students from both La Cañada Flintridge and Villanueva de la Cañada. These entrepreneurial student teams form companies, then jointly plan and develop space rockets and launchers. The students are tutored in business and presentation skills and learn entrepreneurial strategies. International summer exchange experiences are offered to selected graduates of the Space Academy. The International Space Academy won Sister Cities International’s 2020 Award for Innovation in Education.
The Sister Cities Youth Group is open to students in grades 7-12 who live in or attend school in La Cañada Flintridge and have an interest in learning about other cultures and diplomacy. Students are invited to join this international awareness organization, which provides opportunities to develop international leadership skills and to acquire a unique appreciation of other cultures.
“The Sister Cities Friendship Path,” a joint project between the city of La Cañada Flintridge, Descanso Gardens, the Trails Council, the County of Los Angeles, and LCF Sister Cities, has been designed and construction will soon begin adjacent to Descanso Gardens. Mayor Luis Partida from Spain and LCF Mayor Terry Walker will dedicate the Friendship Path on Saturday, May 28, during Fiesta Days weekend.
After retiring in 2019, Greg Brown turned his attention to volunteering in and around La Cañada Flintridge.
He has been primarily associated with civic involvement with appointments to numerous City Council sub-committees and commissions including overseeing the building of sound walls, installing sewers, implementing the Downtown Village Specific Plan and joint use projects with our school district.
In addition, he led a project that added lights to existing fields, helped with the creation of the skate park and was instrumental in the acquisition and design of the new Mayor’s Discovery Park.
Brown was elected to City Council for three four-year terms and he served as mayor from 2006-2007. Some milestone accomplishments under his tenure included the unanimous approval of the Town Center project, groundbreaking for Olberz Park and the opening of a trail crossing over the 210 freeway at Indiana Avenue, which completed the trail loop around the city.
Brown currently lends his leadership skills by serving on the board of directors for the following organizations: Kiwanis Club of La Cañada, Lanterman Historical Museum Foundation, LCF Trails Council, LCF Sister Cities Association, LCF Coordinating Council and LCF Tournament of Roses Association as Vice President. Past affiliations include being a board member of the LCF Educational Foundation and LCHS Music Parents Association. In 2020, he was selected as “La Cañadan of the Year” for outstanding volunteer service and leadership in our community.
One of Brown’s greatest services to the community can be found at the corner of Oak Grove Drive and Foothill Boulevard. A sturdy wooden sign announces correctly, “Welcome to the City of La Cañada Flintridge. Home of Jet Propulsion Laboratory.”
Bradley Burns followed in the footsteps of his dad by attending La Cañada Elementary School, 7/8 LCHS and is now a junior at La Cañada High School. However, he is forging his own path by contributing to the community unselfishly and with great enthusiasm.
In school, he is a starter on the varsity soccer team, captain of the JC Volleyball team and founding member of the Spartan Kindness Club. He is in his third year at the school’s drama program where he has performed in various plays. At the LC Junior Theater program, he also helped the directors with the younger students’ plays, working backstage with children as young as 5.
Outside of school, Burns is a patrol leader and instructor in the Boy Scouts where he has earned Life Scout in Troop 507. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he completed all of his merit badges for Eagle Scout, he was granted permission to work on his Eagle Scout project, which was building a new toy box for the sand toys at LCE.
Other contributions to our community Burns has made are repainting the lower walls at FIS sports field, creating a new garden and planter at Crest View Elementary School, sanding and painting benches at LCE and building two new ones, as well as building new planters in Hahamongna Park.
In addition, Burns has volunteered in AYSO to help the VIP Soccer Program for special needs children, has placed flags at Los Angeles National Cemetery on Memorial Day and has raised money for Operation Christmas Tree that was delivered to the local fire station.
As a longtime resident of La Cañada Flintridge, Chris Erskine is almost synonymous with the city. He patterned most of his newspaper and blog columns about his life in LCF and the foothill area. He and his late wife raised their four children here.
He wrote compellingly about the deaths of his wife and son, which changed his life, but he has also given us laughs about his half-dog-half-wolf, White Fang; the Happy Hour Hiking Club and the Gin and Tonic Society of Greater Los Angeles.
Erskine spent three decades working at the L.A. Times. He wrote for the sports, travel and features sections. He then pivoted to writing a weekly column on humor, suburban life and parenting called “Man of the House.”
He has appeared in 600 newspapers worldwide until his recent retirement from the Los Angeles Times. This signaled the start of a new chapter in Erskine’s writing as he took his talents to his newly formed blog.
It is there that his newsletters continue to chronicle the foibles, mischief and antics of his day-to-day life.
Erskine has authored three books, “Man of the House,” “Daditude” and “Lavender in Your Lemonade.” In 2019, Erskine shared the “joys and absurdities of modern fatherhood“ in “Daditute,” which became one of La Cañada’s One City, One Book community-wide reads.
He also served as grand marshal of La Cañada’s annual Fiesta Days Parade and has emceed many events for local organizations’ fundraisers, including being the speaker at the last Les Tupper awards ceremony.
His sorry attempt at partial retirement did not last long. Just recently, he is back in print as a columnist for the Outlook Valley Sun. Erskine was missed by his many readers, so his column is a welcome addition to the local newspaper.
Matthew Kruse is involved at St. Francis High School, as well as in the city of La Cañada Flintridge. A junior at St. Francis, he is a member of the group LIFE. This religious and campus ministry team helps coordinate student liturgies, lead retreats and help with the spiritual mission of the school.
Kruse is also involved in various clubs and organizations including participation in the Mountain Bike team, member of the Key Club and president and founder of the 3D Printing Club. He also participated in the La Cañada Sister Cities Space Academy program.
Kruse’s other volunteer position is his role as the Golden Knight mascot at football games. It is his job to encourage school spirit and enthusiasm.
Outside of school, Kruse volunteers in the city through St. Bede and their Skidettes program. In this role, he has donated countless hours nearly every weekend making and delivering thousands of sandwiches for the homeless on Skid Row.
Kruse is a member of Troop 507 in La Cañada where he has contributed his time for various scout projects. He earned the rank of Eagle Scout and recently completed his Eagle Scout project doing improvements around the city.
Alice Ryan’s nearly 40 years of volunteer service to the community began in early 1986 at La Cañada Elementary School, where she edited the newsletter. Her involvement with the schools continued as she held PTA board positions as either treasurer or auditor for LCE, 7/8 Middle School, and La Cañada High School as well as the La Cañada Council.
During that time, she worked on campus beautification committees, volunteered in the classroom, helped with the 7/8 fundraising home tours and served as Football Food Booth Chair. For three years, she served as treasurer of Prom Plus.
Having six daughters, Girl Scouts was bound to fit in with volunteering. Ryan was troop leader for many years and volunteered at the service-unit level as registrar.
She taught religious education at St. Bede for 17 years. She has also served on the church’s Women’s Council and is currently on the rotation for lector at the weekday Mass.
Ryan’s love for plants and flowers prompted her to join the La Cañada Valley Beautiful. She was elected to its board, holding various positions including president. She continues to be active in the organization, now serving as treasurer.
In addition to her work with La Cañada Valley Beautiful, Ryan serves as financial secretary for the La Cañada Thursday Club, as well as treasurer for the local chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution.