In Memoriam: Becky Todd

By Fred Hoeptner

Becky Todd was the tall, slender, and elegant auburn-haired greeter and collector of admissions at Rose Leaf Club meetings. When Becky stopped attending about one-and-a-half years ago, hardly a meeting passed that someone didn't ask about her. While I had heard that she had suffered a cancerous lesion on her tongue, I learned of its seriousness only when Becky's mother announced a memorial service being held for her held January 3 in Simi Valley. Present were her parents, younger brother and sister, five members of the Rose Leaf Club, and a large contingent of other friends and relatives.

Although bedeviled from an early age by the congenital psychological malady Briquet's Syndrome, which left her unable to cope with stress and with periodic bouts of depression, Becky ardently pursued her numerous passions and displayed her concern for others from childhood. As a young teen, she responded to a plea on the radio from a mother (who attended the service) whose daughter required a kidney transplant by not only donating her own savings, but also going door-to-door soliciting funds. Music and radio were two of Becky's preoccupations. Her musical affections began with popular music of the swing era and progressed to trad jazz and ragtime. She often lamented that she had been born thirty years too late. According to her brother, every disc jockey on KGIL in the San Fernando Valley once knew her personally. She often rode in the station's airplane by invitation of the pilot Major Bruce Payne, and always invited friends along. A particular fan of world-class pianist Dick Hyman, Becky praised him so profusely at a jazz festival that he invited her to sit beside him on the piano bench. Her adventurous spirit surfaced when she and her friend and employer Bob Kirby journeyed on his motorcycle to Nevada City and Lake Tahoe stopping on the way back to climb Mt. Whitney.

Having learned about the Rose Leaf Club from one of founder Phil Schmidt's early publicity releases in the Pasadena Star-News, Becky attended Rose Leaf Club meetings from their inception and rarely missed a meeting. Her pianist mother Sally and father Dave also attended from time to time. Although Becky could play the piano, she would never perform in public, being obsessed with a belief that she was incompetent and unattractive. She volunteered, with Bob Kirby, to greet arrivals at the door and to collect admission donations. She flew with regular club attendee and pilot Lee Roan, taking numerous photos from the air. She held Ruby Fradkin in special esteem, treasuring her CD.

In later years she became an avid computer devotee, joining a musical chat room and assuming the name "Graceful Ghost" after her favorite musical composition. One of her chat-room friends from the east coast wrote a touching tribute that was read at the service.

Anyone wishing to memorialize Becky may donate in her name to the Hospice of Presbyterian, 15050 Imperial Highway, La Mirada, CA 90638. Farewell, Graceful Ghost.

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