| Happy 90th
Birthday, Glendale, California (1996)
An Interview with Genevieve Sultenfuss
by Nishka Chandrasoma
One quick glance at Sultenfuss's resume and the word "first" jumps out. She was the first woman President of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, the first woman President of the Glendale Board of Realtors, the first woman to receive their "Realtor of the Year" award, the first woman office of the Glendale YMCA and the first woman to receive the Glendale Bar Association's Liberty Bell Award. And she achieved all this simply by taking her responsibilities more seriously than most. "I take things in stride," she said, a comment that reflects her willingness to accept any challenge, no matter how great.
Born Genevieve Cowden in Colorado, Sultenfuss moved here in the early 1920's and attended Burbank High School, back in the days of uniforms. She was president of the Girls' League and the Salutatorian of her graduating class. She went on to become a legal secretary, a job which she held for 10 years. She then met her husband Jim, a native Californian, and moved to Glendale. The home they bought in 1940 is where Sultenfuss still lives, surrounded by antiques and photographs, and with family and friends living nearby.
It was when her two daughters were in school that Sultenfuss began to outwardly show signs of a generous spirit. She said, "And then when my children got into school, naturally I got involved in the PTA, and with dancing, and the Girl Scouts and all the other things you do when raising kids." Later, when she became a Realtor, Sultenfuss began extending herself to involvement in the community. She never approached community activity with a prior agenda. She never planned on becoming one of the most visible and active women in her community or making herself vocal in male-dominated organizations, but she did.
When she was President of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce, Sultenfuss chose "Progress With Pride" as the theme for the Chamber's efforts. They were mostly concerned with the revitalization of Brand Boulevard, getting more stores and businesses into the city, and with the improvement of neighborhoods throughout the city. Although things have changed greatly, she remembers the old Glendale, the one that she helped towards progress. "In the old days when I first moved here they had red delivery trucks and we had milk delivered everyday....Everybody knew everybody else. The neighborhoods got together for coffee and all our kids knew each other and we were very close." The biggest change Sultenfuss has observed over the years is the diversification of the city. Also, the rapid growth in population size has made getting together with neighbors a virtually unheard of luxury these days.
One would assume that after a lifetime of working for her community, Sultenfuss would be using retirement as an opportunity to relax. However, her living room is still strewn with paperwork for her latest project, and her mind is still absorbed with the numerous organizations she continues to be a member of. She is currently still part of the Soroptimist Club of Glendale and is Charter President of the Verdugo Hills Business and Professional Women (BPW). She is also still a member of the Chamber of Commerce and is currently working on a fund-raiser for the YMCA. The YMCA is asking Glendale residents to participate in a time capsule representing Glendale, to be opened in 2022. Sultenfuss is coordinating this huge event, but still remarked mater-of-factly, "Outside of that, I'm not too busy."
Sultenfuss has spent her life being an active resident of a city that has undergone much growth and change. She has a deep-seeded respect for her community that is reflected through her work. She also believes in the younger generations--"I would like to see more pride and respect in our young people now starting out," she once commented. Genevieve Sultenfuss can be considered a living link between the Glendale of the past and the Glendale of the present, and she will undoubtedly play a large part in what the city will become.
Community Wire invites all Glendale students to participate.
Please let us know if you are willing to be interviewed, or if you know someone who should be interviewed for this site. Also, we are collecting family photos, postcards, magazines, and other memorabilia that depict life in Glendale during the past nine decades. We are committed to supporting this site throughout the year, and are making plans to archive this information -- the end results of this celebration -- for posterity. We are open to your suggestions on what to do with the archives that we are now accumulating.
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