Senior in Action – Cathy Saldin

Marilee Marrero Stefenhagen
Former County of LA Public Library Administrator is having the time of her life as a retiree; meeting fascinating people who are active seniors, and volunteering for Soroptimist International of Norwalk and other women’s groups.

Senior in Action – Cathy Saldin

Question: Where did you grow up, and what were the early influences that shaped your personality?

“I was born at St. Francis Hospital in Lynwood in 1952.  My mother purchased a home in Huntington Park before she married my father.  For the first three years of my life, I was sick with asthma.  My parents had to find a hotter, drier climate for me, so we moved to San Gabriel.  My older brother, my 3 younger sisters and I attended San Gabriel Mission Elementary School and San Gabriel Mission High School   Mother sent us to summer school every year to keep us out of her hair.  I recall one of the teachers required an essay: “What I want to be when I grow up” which forced me to think about my future career. I loved spending time with children, and I loved reading books, so I decided to be a Children’s Librarian.  Sister Anita was my mentor.  She allowed me to sit at her desk overseeing the school library during her lunch break.  On Sundays I practiced my storytelling skills with the preschoolers at San Gabriel Mission. After graduation, I stayed in southern California and earned my Bachelor’s degree in American Studies & English from Cal State LA, then my Master’s in Library Science degree from USC.  My first school librarian position was at St. Genevieve High School in Panorama City before I returned to San Gabriel Mission School as their School Librarian.  But my long-term career was with LA County Public Library, where I worked for 37 years as. a Children’s Librarian, Library Manager, and Fiction Evaluator.”

Question: How do you stay active in retirement, Cathy?

“Because of COVID-19 restrictions, I spend a great deal of time reading novels.  I can’t always obtain the physical book, so I’ve begun borrowing E-books.  I won an Amazon Kindle Fire at the American Bookseller’s BOOK EXPO, so I read on the tablet or on my mobile phone. My favorite genres are mystery, paranormal fantasy, and romantic suspense.

Recently, I started working on my family’s Scandinavian genealogy.  Using my library research skills, I’ve been able to find some unique information which my family hadn’t discovered.  For example, my family’s name used to be spelled Salldin with two L’s.  I used, an online resource developed by Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, to research both sides of my family.  A friend asked me to help document her family’s genealogy, and I discovered that we share an English cousin ten generations back!

When COVID-19 quarantines began, I started sewing again and crafted over 50 face coverings for family, friends and neighbors.  The pandemic put an end to several of my previous volunteer activities. I volunteered as a dog-walker for WAGS Pet Adoption in Westminster for a year before the coronavirus restrictions.  I also volunteered at “The Source,” outreach to homeless persons at Norwalk Library and East LA Library.  For years, I helped raise funds for Friends of the Lakewood Libraries at “Taste of Lakewood” events and book sales, and fundraised for Friends of the Norwalk Libraries at “Night of 1000 Stars” and book sales.  My party-planning and fundraising skills have become well-developed and successful thanks to these ventures.

The reason I wanted to retire was to help care for my grandnieces Celestine and Vivian, and grandnephews Miles and Clyde.  My niece Elizabeth and I went on movie dates before the pandemic closed down the theaters.  She’s a fan of superheroes, and loves drawing and art.  Cooking is my hobby, and my goulash meatballs are a family favorite.  Since my parents are both deceased, my siblings prefer to gather for holidays at my home in Stanton.  This arrangement gives me the chance to see my wonderful grandnieces and grandnephews, so I always agree, as long as they chip in for groceries.

Now that I spend more time at home, my front and back patio gardens receive plenty of attention.  I landscaped both gardens to attract hummingbirds for my cats’ entertainment.  My four rescue cats are Mirrielle, Pansy, Little G, and George.  The cats enjoy my freshwater tropical fish tank and are amusing company.”

Question:  Do you like to travel, or are you an armchair traveler?

“I celebrated my retirement by visiting the Big Island of Hawaii, and Kauai.  I snorkeled, took helicopter tours of both islands, and enjoyed sightseeing at the beautiful beaches, waterfalls and botanic gardens. As a single person, it’s challenging to save for travel, so I appreciated the opportunity to visit numerous cities while attending library conventions. “

During this pandemic, many families and pets face homelessness or hunger.  Check with your local animal shelter for information on donating dog or cat food, or go online to  Check with your local food pantry, go online to  or phone LA Regional Rood Bank at (323) 234-3030 to ask what is needed.

All photos were provided courtesy of Cathy Saldin.

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