Aina Abrahamson, a librarian at CLU for more than 20 years, passed away Oct. 16, 2008, in Alhambra, Calif. She was 93. Originally a teacher by profession, Abrahamson served at the Ashira Girls School and the Marangu Teachers Training College in the former Tanganyika in East Africa before working as a librarian in the Long Beach City Schools. She came to California Lutheran College in 1962 just one year after the college opened and was named library director in 1971 and library director emerita upon her retirement in 1982.
Abrahamson remained active in the community after her retirement and was a vital part of the CLU campus community. A member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, she served on the Global Mission Committee of the Southwest California Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. As one of the founding members and a major supporter of CLU's Scandinavian Festival, she was devoted to promoting the Scandinavian culture. She was an integral part of the Scandinavian Cultural Center at CLU and volunteered on several boards of Scandinavian organizations. As a result of her service, Abrahamson was awarded the CLU Distinguished Service Award in 1993 and the Swedish Council of America Award in 1997. She is survived by six nephews.
Walter J. Birkedahl, a founding faculty member of California Lutheran College, died on Sept. 26, 2008, in Grand Junction, Colo., at the age of 88. Birkedahl taught music at CLC from 1961 to 1965 and was instrumental in organizing a community orchestra. After returning to Colorado, he founded the Longmont Symphony Orchestra while teaching in the Longmont schools. Birkedahl received a Bronze Star for his service in World War II.
Gladys Olava Black of Rolling Hills, Calif., passed away on March 20, 2008, at the age of 75. Black served as a member of the CLU Board of Regents from 1979 to 1981. A proud Norwegian and devout Lutheran, she was a lifelong member of the Sons of Norway and a member of Resurrection Lutheran Church for 48 years. She is survived by her husband of 52 years, Ralph; two daughters, Valerie Diaz and Patti Severa, both graduates of CLU; son, Jim; and 10 grandchildren.
Naomi Overton passed away in Newbury Park, Calif., on Nov. 3, 2008. The daughter of early CLC supporters Fred and Veryl Fred-rickson, she was a faithful, lifetime Lutheran. Overton and her late husband, the Honorable Paul Overton, were generous in their gifts to the University. Their legacy lives on in Overton Hall, Overton Court, two endowed scholarships, the Early Childhood Center and the beautiful windows of Samuelson Chapel. In addition to her husband and parents, a daughter, Tina Brende '70, preceded her in death. She is survived by two daughters, Rebecca France '72 and Mary Caldwell; a son, Paul F. J. Overton; and six grandchildren, one of whom is a CLU alumnus.
Alma Pearson, whose name graces CLU's library and who generously supported many projects and programs at CLU, passed away Nov. 21, 2008, in Santa Barbara, Calif. She was 96. From the time she was a young girl, Pearson dreamed of becoming a businesswoman — an unusual ambition in the early 20th century. She helped her mother run a series of successful businesses and, by age 30, was an independent businesswoman overseeing a number of real estate investments.
She and her husband, Clifford, made their first gift to the college in support of the new library in 1982. Over the years, they continued to give to CLU. Along with a charitable trust for Pearson Library and the Alma and Clifford Pearson Endowed Scholarship, they supported the School of Education Leadership Program, the Center for Leadership and Values, the Early Childhood Development Center, the Alumni Board Study Abroad Program, and the development of athletic venues on the North Campus. Most recently, Pearson helped bolster the International Studies Program with the establishment of Pearson Scholars for Leadership and Engagement in a Global Society.
The Pearsons had been married 48 years when Clifford passed away in 1999. Alma often said that because she and her husband did not have children of their own, they chose to adopt an entire university family. In recognition of their contributions and her continued generosity to the University, Alma received an honorary degree from CLU in 2004.