Charlotte Dewey, 88, long-time resident of La Cañada Flintridge from 1977-2017, passed away on February 3, 2022, after several years of descent into dementia followed by infection, seeming recovery, then lethal after-effects of the coronavirus in the wake of California’s Thanksgiving 2020 surge in COVID infections.
Charlotte avidly observed and followed the development of the new city of La Cañada Flintridge from soon after its creation in the 1970s, regularly attending and participating in city council, planning commission and school board meetings as these new institutions took shape. (As a young woman, Charlotte had worked for the American Planning Association in Chicago and always remained interested in such matters.) An English literature major in college with a life-long appreciation of classic literature, Charlotte read aloud classic novels by Dickens and the Bronte sisters to her children when they were growing up back in the late 1970s. After spending much of her life as a stay-at-home mother, in the 1980s, Charlotte was employed at JPL, where she earned the reputation of being one of the few people who cared about the details of what happened at the agency.
A longtime, committed environmentalist and conservationist who kept a compost pile in her backyard and dutifully recycled everything recyclable from the 1970s onward, Charlotte also was deeply committed to wilderness, open space, and park preservation, and along with other La Cañada citizens, she had a key role in preserving Cherry Canyon Park for posterity when it was slated for upscale housing development.
Charlotte and her husband, longtime California State University Los Angeles history professor and administrator Donald O. Dewey, who passed away in June 2017, were also avid and accomplished ballroom dancers who served as officers for, and helped to keep alive, LA-area ballroom dance clubs dating back to the 1940s and the days of Johnny Weismuller (Hollywood’s first Tarzan, and an accomplished ballroom dancer).
Charlotte, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, never expected to become a Californian, but when her husband Donald had the choice between a faculty position at Youngstown, Ohio, and at Cal State L.A. in 1962, they chose Southern California for their future — and were glad that they made the “right choice.” Into her very advanced years, Charlotte enjoyed gardening, cultivating fruit trees, walking around her upper Flintridge neighborhood, and hiking through the paths and hills of Cherry Canyon Park.