It is with a heavy heart that I write about the passing of Jean McNeil Wyner, my mentor, protectress, and loyal friend throughout the years.
As director of the Santa Monica Family YMCA, I first met Jean when she joined the Y Board in 1991, serving as president from 2005-2006, and remaining active until her passing on January 12.
There are so many memories, and the words to describe her are endless. She was fierce, kind, caring and compassionate. She appropriately earned the title of Mrs. Santa Monica for all of her good work in the community. And, she was our own beloved Nurse Ratched in promotional skits, assuring our annual campaign always met its goal.
Jean was committed to community service in Santa Monica from the time she arrived and has received many awards and honors for her service. A few of them are: YWCA Woman of the Year; Presidential Awards Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce 1988, 1997, 2002 and 2003; "One in a Million Award, American Cancer Society; Service Ace Award; Westside Challenge to Beat Breast Cancer; Humanitarian Award, the National Conference of Community and Justice; Roy E. Naylor Lifetime Achievement Award, SM Chamber of Commerce; Commendations from the City of Santa Monica, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1999 and 2002.
Some local organizations in Santa Monica that she was active in were the Chamber of Commerce, NCCJ, College Advisory Board, Salvation Army, Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Kiwanis Club, the Family YMCA, Breakfast Club, Historical Society, the Rotary Club, and the Police Activities League (PAL).
In October of 2012, we honored Jean at the Y's Past President's Luncheon, and her good friend Iao Katagiri spoke these words about her. “Jean, you remind me of a Santa Monica mist that rolls across the streets of downtown Santa Monica, and if the elements are just right, builds through the day until it quietly and softly rises above the tallest buildings reaching for the sky.
“Since you first came to Santa Monica in 1983, you, like the rolling mist, have permeated our community with unwavering support to so many community service organizations, helping to improve the quality of life for so many from the very young to the very old.
“You have advocated for the healthy development of our community, whether it is to nurture our youth, provide care for our seniors, or to bring awareness and support to eradicate the health risks that plague so many.”
Jean was then given an award for “Decades of Unwavering Service and Extraordinary Leadership to the Santa Monica Community.” That is how she will be always be remembered.
By Tara Pomposini