Passings: Mitzi Blahd, 90; Library Fundraiser, Philanthropist

Miriam (Mitzi) Blahd, a longtime resident of Pacific Palisades, passed away on March 24 at St. John’s Hospital of natural causes.

Mitzi was born in Beverly Hills on November 1, 1926 and graduated from that city’s high school.

In 1971, she married Dr. William Blahd, formerly chief of the Department of Nuclear Medicine at Wadsworth Hospital (Veterans Administration), and during their marriage Mitzi worked on the Education and Research Foundation of the Society of Nuclear Medicine. Her idea and work on a cookbook to raise money and awareness for the foundation marked the beginning of a long association of innovative marketing ideas that brought successful fundraising and enthusiasm to the cause. It also typified Mitzi’s roll-up-your-sleeves approach to anything she did.

Miriam (Mitzi) Blahd
Miriam (Mitzi) Blahd

Dr. Blahd died in 2011, but Mitzi continued with her support of the Veterans Administration. She also remained active in her community both by active volunteering and philanthropic gifts.

Philanthrophy started early for Mitzi, who recalled her first fundraising efforts at age 10. 

“I baked cookies and invited 25 neighbors to come hear me play Rimsky-Korsakov’s ‘Flight of the Bumblebee.’ I raised $2.50 and sent it to a children’s hospital in Denver.”

For the next 80 years Mitzi dedicated herself to philanthropic and political causes, particularly those causes centered on West Los Angeles and Pacific Palisades.

She spearheaded a multi-year fundraising campaign that yielded over $1 million towards building a beautiful new public library in the Palisades that opened in 2003.

Mitzi received a Golden Sparkplug Award from the Community Council in 1999 for her prodigious efforts on behalf of the new library. In 2002, she was named Citizen of the Year for her successful campaign.

After Mitzi retired from the Friends of the Library board, she sponsored programs for Chamber Music Palisades, the local series founded by Palisadians Susan Greenberg and Dolores Stevens.

Two years ago, Mitzi donated $50,000 to the Pacific Palisades Historical Society “in honor of my dear friend, Betty Lou Young,” a historian and author who was a Rustic Canyon neighbor. The gift has been used for the digital archiving of the photographs in the Historical Society/Clearwater collection (now archived at the Huntington Library).

Blahd’s most recent gift was a $1 million gift to Santa Monica College to honor her friend, Professor Harvey Stromberg, who taught history at Santa Monica College for over 40 years. The gift will provide four $5,000 scholarships annually in Professor’s Stromberg’s name and also fund a “Living Histories” program for the Emeritus College.

“Mitzi was really a most impressive woman, contributing to so many people and causes throughout her life,” said her friend, Alice Lynn. “She was also active in our Democratic Club.”

Blahd is survived by her daughter, Susan Ward, and her granddaughter, Elizabeth. There will be a private service, and Mitzi’s wish was that anyone so moved would make their own donations to organizations associated with her beloved community.

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