Malibu residents who have been treated for Lyme disease have Barbara Barsocchini to thank for the attention and recognition they received from their doctors. Notoriously difficult to diagnose, the disease was rarely reported to public health authorities, and, as late as 1998, most doctors maintained the disease did not exist anywhere in Los Angeles County.
Barsocchini knew better, having suffered for years with debilitating symptoms misdiagnosed as everything from arthritis to chronic fatigue syndrome. When she finally received the correct treatment, she made it her personal mission to educate other Malibu residents to the threat of the tick-borne disease and to get the attention of state and county health officials. It was a struggle.
While the disease was recognized to exist on the East Coast (it was named for the Connecticut county where it was first discovered in this country), doctors in California, particularly in the southern counties, refused to acknowledge its presence. There was even a backlash in the medical community against doctors who made the diagnosis on clinical evaluation in spite of blood tests that were admittedly often inaccurate.
Barsocchini, who lives with her husband, architect Michael Barsocchini, and their two children in the Malibu Knolls area, has devoted the last five years of her life to helping those who have suffered from the long-term effects of the disease to get effective treatment, and to inform pet owners and hikers how to protect themselves from the ticks that carry the disease. State and county health agencies now confirm Lyme disease is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the state, and have launched education campaigns for prevention and treatment.
Bill and Lisa Curtis
In a comparatively short period of time Bill and Lisa Curtis have made a major impact on Malibu by taking a leadership role in our community, our schools and our recreation. Individually and through Bill’s company, CurtCo Publishing, and its affiliate, Malibu Post & Production, an audio video post-production facility serving the entertainment, Internet and technology-based education industries, they have generously contributed to local schools: the computer lab at Pt. Dume Marine Science Elementary School; outfitting several other Malibu public schools with computers and bringing in their company personnel to install and set up the systems; helping to finance the sports scoreboard at MHS and several other athletic support ventures.
They are more than passive contributors. Lisa has served as 1998-1999 PTA president at Pt. Dume school, vice-president for Cultural Arts, and as a classroom volunteer, she has brought her guitar and taught music to the fourth- and fifth grades. She also was the former president of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Woodland Hills.
With their three children, Danny, Jenny and Chelsea, attending Malibu schools, the Curtises are deeply committed to quality public education.
Both Bill and Lisa are originally from the East Coast — Lisa from Glenrock, N. J., and Bill from Garden City, Long Island. He began in advertising with Bozell & Jacobs and Benton & Bowles but soon gravitated to publishing and, since 1982, when he founded CurtCo, has launched 25 magazines individually and in partnerships. He and Freedom Communications continue as partners in CurtCo e-Media Ventures and the development of smalloffice.com, an interactive Web site serving small business and home office entrepreneurs.
A Malibu resident of 23 years, Beverly Hammond lives in the Point Dume home built by her late husband. Her son, a UC Berkeley grad, currently lives in Japan working as a computer software developer with Cambridge Technology Partners. Her daughter is a junior at UCLA studying design and computer animation. “We’ve now become the little computer family.”
She was secretary of the original study committee in 1990 for Malibu High School, co-wrote with Jeff Jennings the group’s report to the school board and was an active leader in overcoming opposition from board members, who worried about a brain drain and defection of athletes from Samohi.
Her son had graduated from Samohi, and her daughter, an eighth-grader when MHS opened, chose to go there because she wanted a more diverse environment, Hammond said. “I think we can be very proud of our school district, its fine teachers and students at both high schools. MHS has a broader multicultural experience than they would have expected. It’s been a benefit to the district as a whole. It has exceeded our vision.”
The year MHS was established, she taught journalism and was advisor for the school’s first yearbook and first newspaper. At the same time, she had started Image Maker Publishing, which produced “Malibu’s Cooking Again,” a fund-raiser for survivors of the 1993 wildfire, and a calendar, “Fire Storm,” using photos from freelance photographers that was distributed to firefighters.
For the last two years, she has published the Chamber of Commerce Business Directory. As chamber president, she says her primary goal this year is to get the board focused on projects like redoing its Web site and improving communications with members.
As president of the Point Dume Community Services District board, which has run the Community Center for the last 16 years, Hammond is working with the city on the establishment of a new community center.
“I’m afraid it’s been very busy,” she said. “My goal for the near future is to do some cutting back after my present commitments are over.”
For years, it sat lonely and abandoned — the old Malibu courthouse — surrounded by highway rubbish, dead plants and broken windows. But slowly, plank by plank and brick by brick, this local landmark was lovingly restored to its former glory. Palms and geraniums were planted, aging wrought iron was replaced and colorful replicas of Adamson House tiles were laid. No detail was overlooked, from the recreation of the famed Malibu Potteries Persian rug in the entrance to the sweet ceramic inset of a California friar.
For old timers and residents of nearby Rambla Vista, it was like watching a dying loved one bounce back to life. More importantly, it is a major milestone in the preservation of Malibu’s minuscule and rapidly vanishing heritage. The revival is due, in large part, to Doug Himmelfarb. He worked long hours to restore the aging structure with the help of Ruth and Ella Hirschfield, whose father built the courthouse in 1933. “They became a very important part of the restoration project and helped me every step of the way,” Himmelfarb explains. “They were instrumental in helping me make it the best it could be.”
Now that the place is back in top shape, Himmelfarb wants to transform it into a private club, which he envisions as an elegant spot for special events and upscale banquets. “We are very proud of it,” Himmelfarb explains. “We’ve got authentic light fixtures, mahogany doors, bronze work, period furniture and chandeliers.” He describes his Mission Club as a warm and inviting place with sophistication and style.
Plans are also underway to revitalize the building’s sister structure next door. The site once occupied by Georgio’s restaurant will reopen as La Costa Court, Malibu’s newest eatery. “Together, we’ve made it what it should have been long ago,” he says. In completing the project, he has also restored the spirit and the style of Malibu’s past, beautified a shabby stretch of highway and salvaged a precious piece of yesteryear. For that we owe him a great deal of thanks.
Steven Ravaglioli and Bonnie Lockrem
Steven Ravaglioli and Bonnie Lockrem, husband and wife, teach music at Malibu’s three public elementary schools, traveling up and down PCH each day. Luckily, they are teaching as a team this year. Each teaches string and wind instruments.
Both are also adjunct professors at Pepperdine. Both are active with the Malibu Optimist Club. He joined at age 26. “It’s an important part of my life,” he says. “Those guys mentored me and supported me.” He is one of the club’s past double-distinguished presidents.
She received a 1988 Optimist’s award for excellence in commitment to the youth of the community. “It helped me realize the community was not only deserving but appreciative.”
Their many students have performed before the community, from Little League games to Stairway of the Stars, from school assemblies to Malibu’s many club meetings.
Lockrem was raised in San Diego. She attended USC, earning a bachelor’s degree in music and a master’s in music education. After a few years with the L.A. Unified School District, she came to Malibu, “when no one else in the Santa Monica-Malibu district wanted to drive that far” — and stayed.
The program at the time was small, she recalls, but the parents were very invested. She branched out from elementary school to Malibu Park Junior High to coordinating the districtwide performance, Stairway of the Stars, to coordinating the district elementary music program for eight years.
Ravaglioli was born in San Francisco and also attended USC, receiving his bachelor’s degree in business, later earning a master’s in music education.
He holds a real estate broker’s license, and his company, SR Realty, has bought and sold real estate locally since 1986. He has played trumpet professionally with various groups, occasionally with the Pepperdine Community Orchestra.
Students from 20 years ago call them. Many are now professionals, some are even music educators.
Kristin Reynolds, founding president of the advocacy group PARCS (People Achieving Recreation and Community Services), has been in the “recreation business” most of her life.
A native of Brentwood, Reynolds came to Malibu when she attended Pepperdine. She had also met a wonderful “partner,” a friend’s horse named Joe Joe, whom she rode everywhere. “That’s how I grew to love Malibu.”
Along the way, she also met her husband, Bill, who had lived here most of his life and also rode horses.
With a degree in leisure science, Reynolds had worked for the cities of Los Angeles and Santa Monica and the Conejo Valley, and taught physical education at Our Lady of Malibu School before becoming the first director of the Malibu Community Center. She worked there 15 years, completely renovating the programs and the site.
“That opened the door to the community movement,” she says.
PARCS was formed in 1998, when the City Council voted to disband the informal study group that had been investigating Malibu’s parks and recreational needs, and to form instead a five-member, council-appointed commission
“We wanted to bring together senior citizens, Little League, AYSO, all the groups so they could have their own voice,” she said. The group, whose mission is to find permanent space for active and passive recreation in the city for all ages, now has more than 1,000 individual endorsements.
Last week, PARCS presented the Parks and Recreation Commission with a land survey. Monday, Reynolds presented the City Council with the mail-in component of the city’s Parks Master Plan the council had requested.
PARCS will now be working toward a compatible relationship with the State of California on the long-term use of Bluffs Park, which has overwhelming support from the community.
Reynolds says working with Malibu-based Justice for Homicide Victims showed her people don’t give recreation enough importance in their lives. “If these criminals had been involved in recreation, this never would have happened,” she said. “Play resolves conflict, it blows the carbon out of the engine and restores the soul. It makes better people.”
Jack Schultz is a man profoundly grateful for his personal and financial success. “I like what I’m doing,” he says of the family business and donation of use of prime land for a park.
The man who helped create Papa Jack’s Skateboard Park in the Civic Center is a child of the Depression. Like Kirk Douglas, with whom he shares the same birthday, his early jobs were in the iron and metal junkyard business.
Schultz met his wife of 63 years, Pearl, in Echo Park. He was an acrobat, working out on bars and rings in the park. By the time Jack and Pearl got married, he was in the glass-container supply business, working with the company for about 15 years.
In the late ’30s, Schultz started getting interested in real estate. He went to the Hall of Records and looked for “tax sale” property and found a very old, “grown-over” house, which he bought for $1,350. He told his friends, “I’ll buy you hot dogs if you help me clean up the place,” and they did. He leased it out until the state condemned it to build the Hollywood Freeway and paid Schultz “considerably more” than he paid for it.
Schultz has continued to follow that pattern with subsequent properties. “I upgraded each time,” he says.
Today Schultz has a family-run property development company, J&P Enterprises. Daughters Harlene and Marsha help run the business.
After living in Malibu for 30 years, he says, “I love the people and the camaraderie of the small community,” noting how he meets friends several times a week. “Taverna Tony’s is like Rick’s, everybody goes there,” referring to the classic film “Casablanca.”
He decided to donate use of the land because he knew the problems the skateboarders were having. “If we have something to give, we do,” Schultz said. “My wife and I feel very good about that.”
She came to Malibu in the early 1970s, a Valley girl from Van Nuys, to watch her then boyfriend surf. She thought she’d stay until he got out of the water. Now, 25-plus years later, he’s long gone, but she stayed to live, work and marry in Malibu and became an active community leader.
Nidra Winger Maus, as those who have worked with her know, is a pint-sized dynamo who is now the executive director of the Malibu Community Center and a leader in the fight to preserve the center. As more of its meeting rooms are converted to classrooms because of growing student enrollment, the center can no longer supply space for seniors and teens, exercise and dance facilities and Malibu’s long-established AA meetings.
Winger came to the center after many years of public service involvement as a leader of the Kiwanis Club, one of a pioneering group of women who became club members in 1987, when state law mandated women be admitted to formerly all-male service clubs. She became the club’s first woman president, in 1993-94, and chaired the Chili Cook-off for several years. Kiwanis’ major fund-raiser, the event annually contributes close to $100,000 to local charities.
Winger was also a musician, played the flute, and an artisan, working as a seamstress for Jackie’s Leatherwaves since 1975.
She was a board member of the American Heart Association Malibu Chapter throughout the 1990s and served as its chair for two terms.
Currently, Winger is involved in the recently created Malibu Youth Coalition, which brings services, support and activities to Malibu’s growing youth and teen-age population.
Michael Zakian, Ph.D.
Michael Zakian, Ph.D., is director of the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art at Pepperdine University.
He was selected to receive the Dolphin Award for his role in arts outreach to local and inner-city schools, assisting with tours, bus-in programs and children’s art workshops.
But the curator says, “I’d like to correct that,” generously emphasizing the work others at Pepperdine have done to bring children in, particularly the efforts of Marnie Mitze, director of Center for the Arts. Says Zakian, “My biggest contribution to Malibu has been a series of exhibitions focusing on Malibu art and artists.”
In 1998, he curated “Historic Landscapes of Malibu,” which focused on works painted in Malibu that date back to 1897. In 1999, he organized “On Location in Malibu,” for which he invited members of California’s oldest art association, the California Art Club, to paint their interpretations of Malibu. Currently on exhibit is “John Register: A Retrospective,” about the late Point Dume artist.
For a future exhibition, he is considering “Malibu Collects,” in which he hopes to borrow selected works from the many art collectors living in Malibu.
He says he was notified of his Dolphin Award by a member of the California Art Club, “who has a very strong Russian accent, who called me on his cell phone with a very bad connection while driving to San Francisco. How did he hear about it on his way to San Francisco?”
The New York City native studied art history at Columbia University and received his M.A. and Ph.D. from Rutgers. Before coming to Pepperdine, he held curatorial positions at the Palm Springs Desert Museum, from 1986 to 1995.
He is engaged to Lia Skidmore, owner of Skidmore Contemporary Art in the Malibu Country Mart.