Woman’s Civic League of Pasadena Honors One of its Own, Rita Elshout, as 2017 Woman of the Year

L-R: Woman’s Civic League Recognition Chair, Jane Muller; League Woman of the Year Ways and Means Chair, Rita Elshout; League President Lisa Fowler; and League First V.P., Sandra McConnellL-R: Carol Thomson, Woman of the Year Rita Elshout and former Pasadena Mayor Bill ThomsonL-R: Family members: Rita’s daughter Sheryl Elshout; Woman of the Year Rita Elshout, Rita’s daughter Kristin Elshout; Rita’s sister Diane Agard and Rita’s husband, Ray Elshout. (unable to attend in person was Rita’s son Kevin Elshout)

Story and Photography by SANDRA GRINNELL

9:34 pm | June 11, 2017


In bestowing this honor on Rita Elshout for 2017, Pasadena’s former Mayor, Bill Thomson, was on hand at a luncheon on Monday, June 5th at the Womens City Club to honor Rita’s service to him and to the community. Rita and her husband Ray raised three children here in Pasadena, Sheryl, Kevin and Kristin, and have two grandson’s Giovanni and Marcello. Ray, Sheryl, Kristin and Rita’s sister Diane Agard were at the luncheon to celebrate with Rita as well along with League members and guests.

Since 1944, every year the Woman’s Civic League has honored local women for their notable contributions to their fields and their community. Highlights listed here of Rita’s involvement in the Pasadena Community in work and volunteer capacities show why she was so deserving of this honor long overdue.

In 1981, she became Field Representative for Bill Thomson, who represented District 7 on the Pasadena City Council. She held that position for 16 years, including the two years Bill was Mayor, an honorary position at the time. As he, a patient attorney, had limited time to cover all the demands on a council member’s time, his Field Rep handled the many requests for his appearance at ribbon cuttings and other events as well as forwarding constituents complaints to the right department then following up to be sure they are handled in a timely manner. All to make it possible for Bill Thomson to serve effectively and earn reelection for four terms on the Council.

After Thomson retired from the Council, she went to Cal Tech where she was Coordinator of The Friends of the Beckman, a vital support group helping cover costs of a variety of events. In this capacity Rita brought in many new members and an exciting line up of well attended programs at Beckman Auditorium.

Upon retirement she joined the Woman’s Civic League in 2006. In 2009 she volunteered to chair the League’s Ways & Means Committee and has continued in this position to this day. She and her Committee are responsible for The Holiday Boutique, the major fund raiser for our grants. It’s a great deal of work and very stressful so the League is very fortunate she has been willing to do this year after year.

She is also in charge of the “Be and Angel” donation request forms to members. A very expensive program in the past funded by the Leagues’ general fund, the donations raised each year cover the entire cost for the annual The Middle School Girls May acknowledgement luncheon with wonderful gifts for the young ladies from seven Pasadena schools.

Other memberships include the Shakespeare Junior’s Club, League of Women Voters, Assistance League and she also does fund raising for Pasadena City College.