WHO ARE THE FRIENDS?
The Friends of the Torrance Library (FOTL) is an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise funds for the library's adult and children's programs and new library services. We were organized in 1967 as a 501(c)(3) corporation.
Through membership dues, contributions, and book sales, the Friends have donated over $2 million to the library. We operate with minimal overhead. All the work is done by volunteers; we have no paid staff. All funds raised go directly to support the library.
Board of Directors
Gayle is the president of the Friends. She retired from the aerospace industry, having worked as a secretary and in finance. A love of reading led her to volunteer with the Friends, and she likes giving our donated books a new home.
Marcie is vice president of the Friends and chair of Lobby Sales; the large display on the first floor of the Katy Geissert Civic Center Library. During her 40 years in Los Angeles public schools, Marcie taught English and served as a high school counselor and administrator. Originally from Indiana, she moved to California for graduate school at Berkeley and fell in love with our beautiful state. Marcie loves being surrounded by books and people who love them.
Cynthia is the Friends Secretary. She is a native Californian, born in Long Beach and attended local public schools and UCLA. Retired after 26 years with LAUSD working in Adult Education. An avid reader and a member of 2 book clubs led her to volunteer with the Friends. Being retired allows Cynthia to work with FOTL and enjoy time with family, especially grandchildren.
Connie is the Treasurer of the Friends of the Library in Torrance. Her love of reading brought her to the FOTL for the opportunity to work with books and the other volunteers. She is a native Californian born in Torrance. Now retired, Connie previously worked in accounting and payroll.
Nancy is the Membership chairperson and a member of the Internet committee. She a resident of the Beach Cities for over 30 years and attended El Camino College and Loyola Marymount University majoring in History and Art History. In a more than 20 year career she was a project manager for several major telecommunications companies in the Torrance area. Her appreciation of the materials and programs offered by the public libraries during the COVID-19 epidemic inspired Nancy to volunteer with FOTL. Now retired, Nancy enjoys her time connecting with hobbies, friends, and new friendships.
Ron serves as Historian of the Friends. He previously served as Treasurer and co-chair of the Internet Committee. For over 30 years, he was an optical engineer at commercial and aerospace companies. He joined the Friends to give back to the community some of what he has received. He is an avid reader of mystery and suspense novels.
Kris as book chair helps to coordinate the Friends book sales. She also helps with Lobby Sales. Kris graduated from Loyola Marymount and worked for 20 years as a systems programmer. She graduated from L.A. Culinary Institute and changed careers. Now retired after almost 20 years as pastry chef for King’s Hawaiian Bakery, she enjoys meeting and working with the very generous Friends volunteers. Kris’s favorite section of the library is cookbooks.
Tony is our representative to the library commission and is also the Publicity chairperson. He is an active member of the South Bay community. He is a Real Estate Agent by day and a chef by night. He has two young kids in elementary school. The library is his family's go-to place for all the new story books and the kids love reading, too. Tony loves the Cooking section of the library. He volunteers in the City of Torrance as a Planning Commissioner and UCI Alumni Association member.
Previous Board Members
Geneva is no longer the Publicity chairperson but is still active with the Publicity committee. She solicited articles for the newsletter and does the editing and mailing. She also sent requests to local newspapers and city sites to publicize sales dates. Previously, she worked on many different aspects of the airline reservation system computers. Geneva reads ebooks, but finds that reading actual books is a better experience.
Burt Dobratz, a longtime Friends of the Torrance Library volunteer, has sadly passed away earlier this year.
Burt was a past president of the Friends. After a 35-year career as a research and development engineer/scientist in the aerospace field, he retired to spend the next 20 years with the Friends. He enjoyed seeing the book world adapt to new technologies, and books become far more available in digital format. Additionally, he co-chaired the Internet sales activities for the organization.
Burt was a Friends member for over 25 years. He served on the Board as President and Vice President and was passionate in supporting the Torrance Public Library. Moving books from the dock, mailing sold internet books, coordinating donations – the KGL basement was his second home as he tirelessly volunteered 5-7 days a week. He pioneered our internet sales process which would bring in more money than our lobby and book sales combined.
He arranged for distribution of all our unsold donated books to county prisons, Meals on Wheels, schools and churches. What couldn’t be sold or donated was sent to a book wholesaler - again generating income. His philosophy was to find a home for every book, especially childrens books.
Burt was recognized with the 2018 Older Americans Award given by the Torrance City Council for his voluntary efforts. In addition to his support of the Friends of the Torrance Library, he also volunteered at the Bartlett Senior Center . An avid artist, he made dichroic glass jewelry and art objects and taught classes to seniors. Always smiling, with a joke for the situation, he will be missed by all.
Teresa served in various capacities since the establishment of the Friends in 1967. Over the years, her positions have included president, secretary, membership chair and publicity chair. "It's always stimulating to work with books and readers."
Pauline began volunteering with the Friends in 2012. Bright, funny and full of energy she served simultaneously as the Vice President, Secretary and Book Sale Chair.