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Ed Note: Especially for The Signal, Newhall Historian A.B. Perkins has written the following account of the life of Mrs. Pearle P. Russell, beloved old-timer, who passed away, and was laid to eternal rest last week [June 10, 1958].
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That which was mortal of Mrs. H.B. Russell, far better known to her friends as "Pearle," and to two generations of Newhall youth as "Auntie Pearle," was reverently laid to rest at Glenhaven Memorial Park, last Friday afternoon, following memorial services at the crowded Hilburn Chapel.
She left behind her a husband, H. Burton Russell, a son Roland, a granddaughter and a great granddaughter and hosts of friends.
Memories of her long life in Newhall will not quickly fade. She was basically human, loved by her friends — which meant practically all of those folks who knew her.
Few have lived in Newhall longer.
Pearle was born in Bradford, Pennsylvania, March 30, 1882. Shortly thereafter, her father, the late Ed Pardee, came to California with the group of oilfield men imported by the Pacific Coast Oil Company for the development and operation of the Pico oilfields.
In 1884, Pardee's wife, the late Katherine Gartner Pardee, came west with two-year-old Pearle, and joined her husband at Pico.
In 1887, Pardee left the oilfields and opened a livery stable, just south of "Smith's Blacksmith Shop" (it has been the Frew shop since 1900) on Spruce Street. The following year, Pardee built his big livery barn across the street, moved his family into a still existent residence (24303 N. Walnut), and shortly began his long public service as constable, gradually acquiring a very extensive line of Newhall properties.
Around the turn of the century, he bought the then Good Templar Hall (it stood on Pine Street in the 24200 block) moved it over to the triangle of Newhall Ave.-Walnut-Market Streets, remodeled it as a residence. It remained the Pardee family home until about 1942, when the Russells sold that property to the telephone company and moved to 24933 Walnut Street.
Pardee was apparently one of the first to recognize possibilities in the Newhall location and testified his faith with his money.
Mrs. Russell was educated in the Newhall schools. About 1901, she went to Los Angeles and for a while worked in Blackstone's Store. While there, she met and married H.B. Russell. Later they returned to Newhall.
Pearle Russell was always active in local groups.
On November 17, 1916, the original Newhall Parent Teacher Association was formed. She was a charter member.
In 1922, she joined the O.E.S. [Order of Eastern Star] 398, San Fernando, going through the various chairs, and becoming Worthy Matron in 1927.
She was one of the original group forming the Newhall Club, organized in 1923, in which she was still very active.
She was also an active member of Miriam White Shrine No. 59 of Van Nuys.
The newer local folk probably knew her best as the local Deputy Registrar of Voters.
Anything she undertook, she entered into whole heartedly, always meeting the public and its sometimes unreasonable demands with a smile, regardless of personal inconvenience.
Pearle had three outstanding virtues. She was a Past Mistress of cake baking, as anyone who ever tasted one of her cakes will testify; she had an uncomplaining sunny and lovable disposition, compelling the love of those who knew her; and she had a fantastically accurate memory for faces, friends, names and events. This latter trait made possible much of Newhall's written history.
Age never dulled her personality. She had been a very beautiful girl and in her middle forties was still unquestionably the "Queen of the Ball" in the old dances at Conrad's Hall, the Wildwood Dance Hall, and later the Masonic Hall.
She was an initiator and main spring of so many of the pot lucks, card parties, dances and other social groupings that made life in the then isolated little village so pleasant.
On January 29, 1956, friends of Burt and Pearle Russell, having earlier heard of the Russell's plans for an open house in celebration of their golden wedding anniversary, at their Walnut St. home, took over the affair completely, realizing that no home in Newhall would be adequate.
How right they were. Over 250 guests were entertained that afternoon, which has often been referred to as the "pleasantest affair yet held" in the town. As group after group came through the doors, the calendar swung wildly back to the Thirties, the Twenties, the Teens, as friends of a lifetime came short and long distances in congratulatory attendance.
Practically everything worthwhile that had occurred locally over a half century was dated by one or more of the arriving guests.
It was a wonderful outpouring of affection and tribute to the honorees.
Mrs. Russell's passing leaves a void in the narrowing circle of old-timers, and, as well, in her chosen community.