June 24, 2020 marked the passing of true Arcadia treasure Carol Libby, after a year-long battle with cancer (see obituary).
Her smile was truly infectious, genuine and full of warmth and humility. Anyone who ever met Carol would immediately be struck by not only her vast knowledge of Arcadia’s rich history but her wit and gentle, kind demeanor. But most of all, however, I’ll miss that infectious smile and amazing capacity to keep secrets.
As a 64-year resident of the City of Arcadia, Libby was very active with the Arcadia Friends of the Library where she served as vice president and program chairman in addition to being a longtime member, president and vice president of the Arcadia Historical Society. As volunteer and member of the Los Angeles County Arboretum, she published two books about the history of Arcadia. Libby was awarded countless accolades over the years including senior of the year and citizen of the year, among others.
“Her departure leaves her adoring family, good friends and the City of Arcadia, Calif. at a sorrowful loss. A decades-long Arcadian, Carol was an uplifting inspiration to young and old who, if fortunate enough to know her, would be drawn to the twinkle in her eyes and the warmth of her countenance. Carol’s voluminous knowledge of Arcadia history was unequaled and she was unquestionably the backbone of the Arcadia Historical Society,” Arcadia Historical Society reflected on their Facebook page.
“We mourn the recent passing of Carol Libby, long-time resident of Arcadia and inspirational leader of the Arcadia Historical Society. Among many other wonderful attributes, Carol was a caring and compassionate human being and loved by all who knew her,” shared Gene Glasco, Arcadia city clerk.
A Carol Libby Youth Scholarship Award was formed in 2017and the first recipient was Arianna Togelang.
“Carol Libby was a titan in Arcadia. Her contributions could be seen everywhere in the community, most significantly as a keeper of our town’s rich history. She was warm, generous, and friendly to all and she will be missed,” Arcadia City Manager Dominic Lazaretto stated.
Carol worked closely over the years with former Mayor Gary Kovacic, including on two books focusing on the city.
“Carol was a true daughter of Arcadia. A long-time resident and historian, she not only wrote about Arcadia history, she made it every day. She was kind, caring, and considerate to all who had the pleasure to know her. Carol was also astute in Arcadia politics and community affairs, working very hard to bring our richly diverse city together and build a sense of community. Carol was an important participant in the life of our city and will be missed by all Arcadians,” said Kovacic.
Another local historian and exceptional author, Sandy Snider, worked closely with Libby and offered these thoughts on Libby’s life and times:
“Carol Libby was a civic treasure, a person who always said ‘yes’ or ‘why not’ or ‘tell me what you need’ whenever asked. If there was a challenge involved in achieving lofty goals, Carol would arch those feisty eyebrows and say ‘let’s get to it.’ We met almost 40 years ago when Carol branched out from her many city endeavors to lend her skills in sharing the Arboretum’s historic role in city affairs. I was the Arboretum’s history curator, but Carol was the city ambassador who helped put the puzzle pieces together. We shared research tidbits, then thoughts about museum displays, then joined forces to promote historic preservation as a rallying cry in efforts to save at least the heart of the historic Anita Baldwin Anoakia estate. We were never willing to say ‘we lost’ that round, only that ‘we learned’ from the challenges of the experience.
“Slowly and surely over the past 20 years, public education has evolved as a vehicle for expressing the historic preservation concept in Arcadia, and History Lives Here markers throughout the city attest to Carol’s determination to counter perceptions that the City of Arcadia lacks meaningful history. Three of those markers now reside at The Arboretum, and Carol Libby’s name is on each of them as a committee member. From BARC (Baldwin Adobe Restoration Committee) to Save Baldwin Lake, Carol donated time and valuable good will to support causes just a stretch beyond city boundaries, but well within the city’s historic circle. Carol Libby understood the intrinsic value of embracing the past to see the future, and she exemplified the dedication and resolve needed to bridge that chasm.
“Carol’s indelible mark on the City she loved will not be forgotten. It is so easy to get discouraged when good causes aren’t always supported, but Carol never gave up, and when she wasn’t able to climb a wall, she just found a way around the darn wall and met everyone on the other side with a big smile on her face. I know she is smiling still as we all feel her gentle push to keep up the good work.”
As the Acknowledgement page in the book “Arcadia” recognizes, “Carol was the inspiration and guiding light behind this project. Her knowledge of Arcadia history is truly remarkable and her unwavering dedication kept the project on track.”
Currently no services or memorial is planned due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.