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Christine F Flack Shirley

  • Birth 7 Jun 1926 Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Death 15 Jul 2012 Pasadena, Los Angeles County, California, USA
  • Burial Unknown
  • Memorial ID 95804239

Christine passed peacefully on July 15, 2012 after a long fight against progressive dementia.
Born June 7, 1926, ("Yesterday was D-Day, today is Chrissie's B-day"), in Los Angeles, only child of Sloan and Louise Kohlmeier Flack. Christine grew up in the Wilshire district, attended Carthay Circle Elementary and Los Angeles High, class of 1943.

After graduating from Stanford in 1947, as a Kappa Alpha Theta majoring in economics, Christine returned to LA and married Granville B. Vail in 1948. She is survived by her children; Mary Vail of Oakland, Walter Lennox Vail IV and Mahlon (Margaret Borges) Vail of Pasadena and grandchildren Sarah Christine and Alexander Russell Vail.

In 1959, while raising her family, Christine received her secondary teaching credential from UCLA and was hired by LA High's principal Norm Schacter to teach US History and Government. She was a dedicated Roman, teaching until 1970, also serving as head of the Social Studies Department and College Guidance counselor.

Christine was a true Angeleno, with a passion for our City's history, focusing on nineteenth century development. She attended UCLA during summer breaks and received her Masters Degree in History in 1971. In 1974, by the invite of her dear friend Nancy Call, Christine started volunteering at the General Phineas Banning Residence Museum in Wilmington. She worked to develop the Museum's interpretive history program, docent manual, annual speaker series and monthly newsletter.

From her early years, Christine loved spending summer days at Crystal Cove in Laguna Beach with the Kohlmeier family. In 1965, our beloved Aunt Grace arranged for Christine to lease cottage #23 from the Irvine Ranch Co. The Cove was Christine's true home, the community of friends there and sunsets over Santa Catalina sustained her. She worked tirelessly with the resident's association to preserve the Cove's unique character, helping to gain its National Historic Landmark designation. Christine was heartbroken in 2001 when the residents were finally evicted from the State Park.

In 1970, Christine married fellow Crystal Cove resident William J. Shirley. They enjoyed each others companionship, respect, support and love for 30 years until Jack passed away in 2001. Christine is survived by Jack's children; Lynn S. Miller (Honolulu), Kimberly S. Beckley (Arcadia), William J. Shirley III (Broomfield, CO.), Michael J. Shirley (Laguna Beach), their spouses and children.

In 1983, Jack and Christine started work on their home on the grounds of the George Ellery Hale Solar Observatory in Pasadena. Restoration of the Observatory, its library and lab became Christine's passion and led to Historic Landmark designation in 1984. Christine actively shared the Observatory with the community, was excited to study Hale's life achievements and help preserve his scientific legacy.

Christine's study of Los Angeles and California history led her to participate/support numerous groups, including First Century Families (Chairman 1985-86), Fellows of the Huntington Library, Friends of Cal Tech Libraries, Cal Tech Associates, California Historical Society, Mount Wilson Institute, Heritage Square Museum and Friends of Banning Park. Christine often served on committees and boards of these groups and her dedication was honored in 1995 by receiving Southern California Historical Society's Community Achievement Award.

Christine's research also led to her back to her roots as she sought information on the Kohlmeier and Vail Families. Every discovery enthused her to learn more, annotate, collaborate, collect and compile information. Her family archives will be appreciated for generations and her enthusiasm to connect today's bounty with the industry of yesterday's orchard men was inspiring.

Christine was enriched by lifelong friendships with surviving cousins Ruth Van Wyck, Suzanne Goell, Jean Vail, and Mahlon Lawton. Her first inspiration for family history came from Mary Vail Wilkinson, later she collaborated with Laura Vail Ingram and Margaret Vail Woolley, documenting and preserving the Vail family's ranching history in California and Arizona.

No description of Christine's life would be complete without noting her enormous love for cats; their constant presence in her household and her imaginative names for them. One could rarely sit with Christine without displacing a purring beast or leaving with fur on your pants leg. We hope St. Peter is relieved to allow Mom to proceed, taking along the waiting band of cats scratching at the Gates of Heaven. Onward with Guinevere, Lancelot, Muriel, Fascinator, Archie, Fairybelle and Roosevelt!

Published in Pasadena Star-News on August 23, 2012

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  • Created by: J
  • Added: 23 Aug 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 95804239
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Christine F Flack Shirley (7 Jun 1926–15 Jul 2012), Find A Grave Memorial no. 95804239, ; Maintained by J (contributor 46897785) Unknown.