Culver City mourns the loss of Mary Ellen Fernandez, long time community leader and volunteer. She was born to Duane and Helen Bales in Santa Monica on August 19,1936 and graduated from Santa Monica High School in 1954. She married Leonard Maisch in 1955 and their children, Debra Lynn and Brian William were also born in Santa Monica.
She moved to Culver City and was employed by the City of Culver City in 1960, working for City Manager Dale Jones. Mary Ellen met her second husband, Armando William “Bill” Fernandez in 1962 while working at the Bank of America in Culver City, followed by seven years as a secretary at Farragut Elementary School. Active in the community early on, she served as a Girl Scout leader 1962-1970, PTA President at Culver Elementary School (renamed Linwood Howe Elementary School in honor of its late principal) and receiving its PTA Lifetime Achievement Award. Mary Ellen and Bill joined the Culver-Palms Family YMCA in 1965, where she was a charter member of the Y’s Menettes (later named “Friends of the Y”) and served on the Y Board from 1992 to 2005. They both enjoyed working the famous Y Christmas Tree Lot and 4th of July Fireworks Show for almost three decades.
Mary Ellen was appointed a member of the Culver City Parks & Recreation Commission in 1986-89, and the Landlord-Tenant Mediation Board in 1990, where she served for 17 years. Having received her Real Estate license in 1972, she was a member of the Culver City Board of Realtors until its merger with the L. A. Board, beginning in 1978 with Corliss and Associates. She was named Associate of the Year in 1987 by the Culver City Board. During those years she worked for Merrill Lynch, Prudential, Coldwell Banker, ReMax and Cavanaugh Realtors, retiring in 2005.
Mary Ellen was proud to have completed the Culver City CERT (Citizens Emergency Response Team) program and the CCPD’s Citizens’ Police Academy. She was a member of the Culver City Historical Society, charter member of the Sister City Committee, and for the past several years a SAG/AFTRA Motion Picture Union member, working as background in movies and television. She still kept up her SAG dues “just in case I’m called back one more time.”
She became a volunteer for “Veterans’ Holiday Celebration” in 2014, helping to provide dinner and services for over 3,000 veterans at the WLA facility. She felt that this was her most rewarding experience and remained active in the program up until her death.
Mary Ellen leaves her sister Helen Mae Nantz and four nephews; daughter Debra Lynn (Paul) Abascal of Venice, CA, grandchildren Paulina Yvonne Abascal and Jensen William Abascal; and son Brian William (Debbie) Maisch of Culver City.
A Celebration of Life has been set for Saturday, April 14 at 11:00 a.m. at Grace Lutheran Church, 4427 Overland Avenue, Culver City. A luncheon and toast to Mary Ellen will follow at the church’s Parish Hall upstairs. In honor of their program that provides weekly hot dinners for those in need, Mary Ellen requested that donations be made in her name to Grace Diner, 4427 Overland Avenue, Culver City, CA 90230