Honored Citizens: Sam and Barbara Mowbray

Sam and Barbara Mowbray, Claremont’s 2017 Honored Citizens, are involved in such a wide variety of organizations and causes throughout Claremont that they can barely keep track of them all.

Nevertheless, Mr. and Ms. Mowbray say that they were surprised to receive this prestigious distinction from the city.

“The first thought that came into my mind is that I could easily come to fifty people without even thinking about it who have done as much as I have at various times. So it’s really humbling to know that people thought enough of us to nominate us,” Mr. Mowbray said.

The Mowbrays have lived in Claremont for 37 years. They first moved to the city from Santa Monica, when Mr. Mowbray was hired as a manager in Research and Development at a now-closed Johnson & Johnson facility in Claremont. Meanwhile, Ms. Mowbray continued to commute to Santa Monica for her job as a nurse.

Several of our city’s unique facets convinced the Mowbrays to settle in Claremont, rather than a surrounding town, when Johnson & Johnson hired Mr. Mowbray.

“We looked at other towns around when we were making the decision when we were moving here. But it was primarily the ambiance of the town and the quality of the schools that were the reasons we chose to come to Claremont,” Mr. Mowbray said.

The Mowbrays also enjoy Claremont’s East Coast feel, the Village and the unique character of the Claremont Colleges.

The Mowbrays have been deeply involved in service throughout the years. As Ms. Mowbray’s two sons were growing up, she became involved in Cub Scouts, Little League and Our Lady of Assumption Church, and was a chairperson of a high school class and the Parent-Faculty Association. She also coached youth soccer for four years.

But the volunteering didn’t stop her. For 31 years, Ms. Mowbray was a nurse at City of Hope, where she treated cancer patients.

When Ms. Mowbray retired five years ago, she became more deeply involved in the community, particularly with issues involving Claremont’s older citizens. She served for a term as the chairperson of the Committee on Aging and two terms as vice chair. She is also a member of the Health and Fitness Committee, a subgroup of the Committee on Aging.

As part of this work, she helped launch—and leads—the twice-weekly Get Walking group, which often has 30 or more participants.

“Rather than the nursing aspect, where I was dealing with sick people, I wanted to deal with healthy people and helping to keep people well, and that’s why we started the walking group. We knew there [were] a lot of seniors in Claremont who didn’t want to walk by themselves,” she said.

Ms. Mowbray also organizes the Intergenerational Life Stories Project, which gives Claremont’s seniors an opportunity to interact with high school students and tell them about their lives.

Working with students is a passion shared by her husband. Mr. Mowbray has long been highly involved in education. He was a founding member of the ED Net, now known as the Claremont Educational Foundation, served for four terms on the CUSD board of education and is a member of the Claremont After School Program

“[Schools] are literally the foundation, the place where our civilization starts. You can’t have a democratic government and mind of individuals without educating them,” he said. “We don’t have much of a democracy if we don’t have good public schools.”

In addition to these activities, Mr. Mowbray worked with an organization that provides housing and services to people with disabilites, and is in charge of Claremont Rotary’s local grants projects, which provides funds for a variety of local organizations.

In their spare time, Mr. and Ms. Mowbray enjoy cheering on their grandson’s sports teams.

And as many locals know, there is no shortage of opportunities to volunteer in Claremont.

“There are all kinds of activities in town,” Mr. Mowbray said. “We both get a large number of phone calls from people who are working on a program and they need an extra pair of hands—those opportunities exist if you just show a little bit of interest, because there’s always a need for manpower.”

Karen Rosenthal, the 2017 Fourth of July Committee Chair said, the committee chose the Mowbrays as this year’s honored citizens primarily because of the depth and breadth of their service. They have, throughout their 37 years in Claremont, committed themselves to wide range of causes and have had a positive impact on the community.

Nevertheless, Mr. and Ms. Mowbray insist that they are not unique, but are just average Claremont citizens.

“In Claremont, service is the mantra of almost everybody I know,”?Mr. Mowbray said. “Almost everybody is interested in and working on some kind of service activity, providing services to people that maybe don’t have quite as much or where there is a special need.

“And I’m talking about a couple hundred people that have, for the past 40 years of their existence in Claremont, been involved in these things.”

—Marc Rod



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