Betty McKenney, Co-Founder of Arlington Garden, Passes Away

Published : Monday, October 1, 2018 | 5:38 AM

[Updated]   Ruth Elizabeth ”Betty” McKenney, who with her husband founded Arlington Garden, Pasadena’s only dedicated public garden, died on Monday, September 17, in Pasadena. She was 72.

With her husband Charles and designer Mayita Dinos, McKenney led a neighborhood effort which transformed an empty, downward -sloping lot on Arlington Drive at South Pasadena Avenue into a lush and beautiful public garden.

The trio said at the time they were inspired by Jan Smithen’s book “Sun-drenched Gardens: The Mediterranean Style.”

Work on the Arlington Garden in the summer of 2005.

Other community members and foundations soon pitched in and set up Arlington Garden as a 501(3)c foundation, eventually signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Pasadena to maintain the Garden as a public, water-wise garden celebrating Southern California’s Mediterranean climate.

McKenney’s husband, who was known in Pasadena by the nickname “Kicker,” served as President of Arlington Garden until his death, while Betty continued to serve as Secretary-Treasurer.

Arlington Garden in Pasadena released this statement upon her passing:

“We are greatly saddened that Betty McKenney, our beloved founder, constant gardener, inspiration and driving force, passed away on September 17th. She will be enormously missed, yet her memory will be cherished and her immeasurable contributions to our Garden will be greatly appreciated and honored,” the statement said.

“Please know that we are as committed as ever to celebrating Southern California’s Mediterranean climate, offering the public a wide range of opportunities for education, contemplation and enjoyment, and showing that a climate-appropriate garden can be both beautiful and practical to maintain while conserving water and being environmentally responsible and maintaining our Mediterranean-climate garden at a high horticultural standard and keeping it looking good at all times.”

Her husband, Charles “Kicker” McKenney, died in 2015. They had married in 1970.

She is survived by her daughter Sara Gillissie, sons Stephen and Brendan McKenney, and five grandchildren.

On Thursday, October 4, a service for Betty McKenney will take place at 4 p.m. at Holy Family Church, at 1527 Fremont Avenue in South Pasadena, and a reception will follow at 5:15 p.m. in the Garden.

In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to the Arlington Garden in Pasadena through

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