Long-time Monrovia resident Mimi Mency, a local civil rights leader and the first African-American woman elected to the Monrovia school board, died on June 21 at age 74.
Friends and colleagues described Mency as a forthright and extremely warm person who loved to help her community.
"Mimi is larger than life in the history of Monrovia. It’s hard to find something that she wasn’t involved with," said Mayor Mary Ann Lutz. "She was very instrumental when it came to integrating our schools in the 60s and 70s."
Former Mayor Bob Bartlett, who attended Huntington Elementary School with Mency in the 1940s, noted that Mency was part of a group of concerned parents who went to the high school every day in the 1960s to oversee the newly desegregated campus and help maintain peaceful relations.
"As an adult she was a fierce fighter for Monrovians," Bartlett said. "She loved the city and loved everything it stood for. She wanted to make it better, and she did."
Mency was born Mimi Luvenia Martin on Nov. 13, 1936. She was baptized at Second Baptist Church, where she served in numerous programs, including Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and later as a Youth Director. She graduated from Monrovia-Arcadia-Duarte High School in 1954 and attended Pasadena City College.
Throughout her corporate career, Mency worked as a telephone operator and in management, retiring from AT&T-Lucent Technologies in December 1989.
Mency was elected to the Monrovia school board in 1972, and later served on the city's planning commission. She also served on the board of directors for the , and for KGEM-TV.
Jason Lewis, the former executive director of KGEM, said that Mency gave him his first job at the station and that she was instrumental in driving KGEM toward original live programming and in transitioning the board from a self-appointing to an elected board.
Mency was a supporter of the Monrovia-Duarte Black Alumni Association, which awarded her the 2010 Mwalimu Award for being a strong community activist. She was the recipient of the Older American Volunteer Award from Los Angeles County in 2004, the Iris Award for citizen of the year from the Monrovia Chamber of Commerce in 2002, and the Mary Wilcox Award for her service to the Boys and Girls Club in 2001.
She is survived by her husband of 47 years, George Mency; her daughter, Sherellyn Parent; her sister, Lavada Desalles; four grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren.
Duarte Councilwoman Lois Gaston said that she’d known Mency since the age of 12 and that they were "good good friends and best best buddies."
"Our families often spent Christmases together," she said. "No one can imagine how much Mimi meant in all of our lives."
Memorial Services will be held on Tuesday, June 28, at 11:30 a.m. at , 140 East Palm Ave. Interment will be at , 200 East Duarte Road. A reception will be held at 3 p.m. in the at 119 West Palm Ave.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made payable to George Mency and proceeds will be shared with the Boys and Girls Club of the Foothills, , and the Monrovia-Duarte Black Alumni Association.