MARY ANN GAIDO OBITUARY
As many League and community members already know, lifetime member of the League Mary Ann Gaido died on Wednesday September 6, holding the hands of her children Peggy Gaido and John Gaido, following a fierce battle with an aggressive cancer diagnosed in the fall of 2022.
Consistent with her long life of determination, optimism, and dedication to service, on August 31st Mary Ann had attended her final City of Irvine Planning Commission meeting, for the first time by wheelchair, still deeply engaged in being sure the needs of less affluent residents of the city would be met.
Mary Ann served on the Planning Commission for a total of 20 years, having been appointed for the first time just after Irvine’s incorporation in 1971. Over time she also served on the Transportation Phasing Task Force, helped create the City’s first General Plan and Irvine’s first skate park, promoted the rewriting of Irvine’s Housing Element to include over 3,155 units of low and very low-income housing, and served twice on the City Council.
During her Council campaigns Mary Ann’s slogan was “Planning as if People Matter,” and in her work with the City she worked to preserve open space for recreation and land/air/water protection, and actively supported a successful campaign in which Irvine residents agreed to tax themselves to support parks, bike trails and cultural offerings.
Her work was not limited to Irvine concerns – she was a founding member of numerous boards, including Jamboree Housing, The Kennedy Commission of Orange County, the OC Community Housing Corporation and the OC Affordable Housing Clearinghouse.
Mary Ann’s inspiration arose from her family, her love of the arts, her concern for others and her faith. As Head of the Board of Directors for the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby in Washington DC she worked to pave the way for Catholic legislators to support the Affordable Care Act, expanding healthcare access for many Americans.
As a public servant and local office-holder Mary Ann has also been of great value in the work of our League of Women Voters of Orange Coast. She was always available to League members running for office, with practical, honorable advice on strategy and techniques and, especially, integrity. When Coast decided to revive our Observer Corps, which trains Leaguers to be non-partisan, careful observers of and reporters on the public meetings of our electeds, Mary Ann was a wonderful counselor, trainer and supporter. Coast is active in working to end homelessness and increase our county’s stock of affordable housing – once again, right in Mary Ann’s ballpark!
Mary Ann was also a wonderful friend on an individual level, fun to be with and always there when you needed her. A few examples:
- She regularly took a fellow movie lover to the movies when he could no longer get there on his own.
- She helped a small group of us get a Peace Pole erected in a local park in honor of a friend who had dedicated himself to volunteer efforts for peace – but had also been very active with Mary Ann in getting Irvine’s bike trails off to a great start.
- She joined some of our League members in helping the League of Women Voters of Pasadena decorate their float for the 2020 Rose Parade. The theme of the League float was the 100th year celebration of the 19th Amendment – which gave women the right to vote. To everyone’s delight, it won the Theme Trophy for the Most Outstanding Presentation of the Rose Parade Theme, which was The Power of Hope.
A public celebration of Mary Ann’s life is planned for the future – we will notify League members when we have more information. In the meantime, if you are inspired to make a donation in her memory, the family suggests any of the following: Orange County’s Kennedy Commission (affordable housing), The Barclay Theater, the Sierra Club, the UCI School of Nursing or the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.