Gladys Waddingham: ‘Mother’ of Inglewood History

Thursday, March 19, 2015 Written by 
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The history of Inglewood is so intertwined with the life and legacy of Gladys Waddingham that the two are inseparable.  Born in 1900, the Spanish teacher who taught at Inglewood High School for 45 years, was the author of many books about her adopted city.  She was the mother of Inglewood’s recorded history, which she faithfully shared until her death in 1997.


The Centinela Business and Professional Women's Club named her Woman of the Year in 1967, and the Inglewood Sertoma Club gave her a Service to Mankind Award in 1973.


She was born Gladys Alice Wolf (sometimes spelled "Wolfe") in  Custer Township, Mason County, Michigan, the oldest child of George Henry Wolf and Emma Amelia Brandt.  In 1910, the family moved to the Medford, Oregon area for several years.  They later moved to San Diego, and by 1920, Gladys had graduated from Occidental College.  She obtained her first teaching position in Las Vegas, Nevada and was offered a job in Inglewood in 1922.  After marrying Frances Waddingham, Gladys remained a long time Inglewood resident in her Morningside Park home.  The couple had no children and Frances died in 1983.   She spent her final year in a rest home in Alhambra, where she died on April 15, 1997, at 96 years of age.


Waddingham taught some ten thousand youngsters during her high-school career, including Robert Finch and Glenn M. Anderson, both of whom became lieutenant-governors of California.


Her books include a history of the First Presbyterian Church of Inglewood, of which she was a member; a History of Inglewood, two volumes of an autobiography titled A Kaleidoscope of Memories, and another book called My Memories of Inglewood High. She wrote The Women Who Made Inglewood because "I got so tired of all these biographies written about men that end with one sentence: On such a such a day, he married so and so."


Among Waddingham’s books is one that commemorates the 30th Anniversary of the Historical Society of Centinela Valley, 1965-1995.  Several others document local icons for whom Inglewood schools were named, including Daniel Freeman, Albert Monroe, George W. Crozier, James Kew and Frank D. Parent.  

Today, Inglewood’s most well known historian is immortalized by a building named in her honor:  The Gladys Waddingham Lecture Hall in the Inglewood Public Library.




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