PASSINGS: Charles Garland Lewis Sr., Mary Edwards, Morris Lasker
Charles Garland Lewis Sr.

Basketball coach at San Marino High

Charles Garland Lewis Sr., 97, a former basketball coach and athletic director at San Marino High School, died Dec. 6 of a heart attack at an assisted-living facility in Laguna Hills, said his son, Gary.

Lewis became the first employee hired by the San Marino Unified School District and worked at San Marino High from 1952 until retiring in 1973.

"He was just a very, very excellent coach and probably a better gentleman," said Bob Sommers, who graduated from San Marino in 1959 and later played basketball at Stanford University.

Lewis was born April 27, 1912, in Brownstown, Ind. He played three seasons in the 1930s at the University of Kentucky for legendary basketball coach Adolph Rupp.

"Rupp heard about him, saw him and wanted him to come to the University of Kentucky," Lewis' son said. "Rupp went to Brownstown and talked to his parents, who said we can't afford him to leave the farm."

Lewis' son said Rupp paid for workers to help at harvest time so Lewis could attend school.

At Kentucky, Lewis met and married Bobbie Holland. Gary Lewis said his parents married during Lewis' senior year but couldn't live together because the school would take away his scholarship because he was married.

In 2008, the basketball court was named in his honor.

"He needed to be recognized," Sommers said.

Mary Edwards

San Fernando Valley activist

Mary Edwards, 79, a grass-roots community organizer and environmental activist in the north San Fernando Valley, died Dec. 7 surrounded by her family at Kaiser Permanente Woodland Hills Medical Center. A longtime resident of Granada Hills, she had multiple myeloma.

Chief among Edwards' causes was the North Valley Coalition of Concerned Citizens, formed by a group of residents opposed to an expansion of the nearby Sunshine Canyon Landfill.

In a long-running legal battle against operator Browning-Ferris Industries, the community group raised funds by holding bake sales and garage sales.

"We are tenacious," Edwards said in a 2000 interview with The Times. "We will hang in there. We will be like bulldogs at their ankle."

As an advocate for preserving open space, Edwards worked to have parkland set aside for the Rim of the Valley trail corridor, the Santa Clarita Woodlands and the expansion of Bee Canyon Park in Granada Hills.