Madalene Marie Fobert

Madalene Marie Fobert died on Oct. 5. She was 90.

Fobert was born Madalene Marie Gerber in Buffalo, N.Y. on April 1, 1920. She was the oldest daughter of John and Henrietta Gerber. After graduating from Fosdick-Masten Park High School, she attended Chown’s Business School, where she studied to be a secretary. To develop her skills, she spent Sundays translating the minister’s sermons into shorthand.

Fobert’s first job was secretary to the vice president of Wheeling Corrugating Co. She later moved to Houdialle Engineering Co., where she had always wanted to work. There, Gerber excelled and eventually became the personal secretary of the firm’s president, Ralph Peo.

A talented pianist and organist, Fobert was often asked to perform for Peo’s friends when he entertained at his home.

Fobert met her husband Donald while working at Houdialle. They were married on Aug. 31, 1946 in Buffalo. The soon moved to Detroit, where Don’s family lived. The couple later followed Don’s parents, and moved to Santa Monica, where daughters Donna and Cheryl were born. In 1952, they built their home in Malibu, where they added three more children, Suzette, Laurette and Donald Jr.

Fobert began working for Arthur Freed Orchids (later Zuma Canyon Orchids) in 1965. She was the office manager there for 33 ears. During that time, Fobert was active in the PTA, Scouts, Malibu Orchid Society and church functions. She was a 70-year member of the Order of the Eastern Star.

Fobert was known for her sense of humor and social activity. She held many fish fries and sing-a-longs at her Malibu Knolls home.

She was cared for by Lorna Aviles, Lolita Resuma and Claire Vopatek.

Fobert is survived by her five children; sons in law Earl, Richard and Jerry; daughter in law Tampa; grandchildren Jay, JoAnna, Samantha and Daniel; sister Mildred, several nieces and nephews and more members of her extended family.

A memorial service will take place Nov. 13 at 11 a.m. at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, located at 985 Lincoln Blvd. in Santa Monica.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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