Monday, April 7, 2008

The Secret Life and Cemetery of Leslie C. Brand

There is a fantastic article in the Sunday L.A. Times by Cecilia Rasmussen about the secret life of Leslie C. Brand, Glendale's most influential early booster. Sadly, the Brand article is the the last of the always interesting "L.A. Then and Now" column, as Ms. Rasmussen took the buyout during the Times' latest cutbacks.

Brand, who was married to Mary Louise Brand but officially childless, had a longtime affair with a much younger woman, Birdie Esther Carpenter Gordon, who he secretly married in Tijuana when she became pregnant, despite his already being married. The Times did DNA testing of descendants on both sides of the family and definitively proved that yes, Mr. Brand did indeed father two children by his mistress.

The article briefly mentions the Brand Family Cemetery, where Mr. Brand, his wife, pets, and several relatives are buried. The cemetery is in Brand Park, but there are no signs that tell you how to get there.

If you'd like to visit Brand Cemetery, start by walking up the road that goes past the Doctor's House, which will curve around the left side of the catch basin. Be careful of city trucks flying down this road. In less than half a mile, the road branches off in three directions. Take the path farthest to your left. Keep your eyes open for the green metal fence above the path on the right hand side. Go down the path a few hundred feet, and there will be a stairway on the right which leads to the cemetery. The cemetery is locked, but if you're feeling ambitious you can find your way around the fence.

Please treat the graves with the utmost respect--despite his personal issues, Mr. Brand helped bring Glendale commuter rail, electricity, and aviation, not to mention the fact that he kindly donated his estate to the city for public enjoyment as a park and library.

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