Culver City Funeral for Former Foreperson of L.A. County Grand Jury

Mary Jean Pew was an assistant to Gov. Jerry Brown in his first campaign for governor and his first appointee to the California State University Board of Trustees.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adjourned its meeting today in memory of Mary Jean Pew, Jerry Brown's assistant campaign manager in his first run for governor, Brown's first appointee to the California State University Board of Trustees and a former foreperson of the Los Angeles County Grand Jury.

"She will be remembered as an extraordinary woman who had passion, insight and wisdom," said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who detailed her accomplishments and contributions for the audience at the county Hall of Administration. "She distinguished herself in any number of ways."

Ridley-Thomas noted that was a student in one of Pew's undergraduate constitutional law classes, saying, "I can tell you, she could go with the best of them."

Pew died at home in Marina del Rey Friday after a long battle with lung cancer and other illnesses. She was 82.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 11:45 a.m. Friday at St. Gregory's Catholic Church, 900 S. Bronson Ave., in the Mid-City area. Burial will follow at 2:15 p.m. at the Holy Cross Cemetery, 5835 W. Slauson Ave., Culver City.

Pew, who had been a history and government professor, academic vice president and then acting president of Immaculate Heart College in Hollywood before the school closed in 1980, was a Catholic nun for 19 years. She was one of the Immaculate Heart of Mary sisters who came in conflict with the male hierarchy of the church in the 1960s, a battle that was well-publicized in Los Angeles and resulted in 400 IHM sisters surrendering their vows in 1970. Pew had already left the order in 1968, continuing her academic work, assisting Brown and then marrying in 1972.

"Mary Jean has been a friend for more than 40 years," Brown said in Sacramento while reviewing end-of-term bills this weekend. "She was an extraordinary woman of passion and insight. Everything she put her mind to, she made better."

She and her husband, City News Service President Douglas Faigin, lived in Marina del Rey and would have been married 40 years in December.

Pew was head of the political science department of Immaculate Heart College when Brown, then a young member of the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees, spoke to a gathering of students. He asked Pew to find students who would volunteer for his upcoming run for California secretary of state in 1970. Pew provided a number of students and became a volunteer herself. She met her future husband in Brown's mid-Wilshire campaign office.

Just after Brown took office for the first time as California governor in 1975, he appointed her to the college board that oversees all the campuses of the CSU system, then known as the California State University and Colleges. She served for seven years before she and her husband moved to Steamboat Springs, Colo., where together they operated the local radio stations they purchased.

While living in Colorado, she was appointed by that state's governor to the state commission on employment.

After returning to California in 1985, Pew was named foreperson of the Los Angeles County Grand Jury, a post she held for the one-year full-time term. She insisted on being called "foreperson" instead of the traditional "foreman" that had been used regardless of the gender of the person in that role.

She led the Grand Jury in returning numerous criminal indictments, but the panel also declined to indict in some cases despite the District Attorney's Office's presentations. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed column at the end of the year, she argued that the Grand Jury should be limited to criminal cases, and that due to a lack of funds and expertise, civil investigations should be eliminated. The Grand Jury was later split in two, with one panel for criminal cases with 30-day terms and the other civil with one-year terms.

Pew, as acting president of Immaculate Heart College in the school's final year, held a well-attended news conference with actor Charlton Heston on the campus to announce the sale of the school's facility near Franklin and Western avenues to the American Film Institute. AFI's operations continue to this day at the site. Immaculate Heart was originally a Catholic women's college, but had become non-denominational and co-ed years before it ceased operations.

The Immaculate Heart Sisters of Los Angeles' fight with the local representatives of the Catholic Church was similar to disputes Catholic women's communities were having during the generally turbulent era of the 1960s with the church male hierarchy, represented in Los Angeles by conservative Cardinal James Francis McIntyre. According to one source in a written history of the community, the fight was not only about a "clerical bureaucracy treating women as children," but also a battle in which "truth speaks to power, honesty overcomes the lies of silence and women claim their own lives."

There were numerous issues of disagreements between the sisters and cardinal, from the wearing of habits to modern art by IHM Sister Corita that McIntyre ordered not to be exhibited. Many of the changes adopted by the sisters -- and rejected by McIntyre -- arose from the Vatican Two Council that discussed the church in the modern world.

Pew's undergraduate degree was from Immaculate Heart and her doctorate was from Fordham University in New York.

In addition to her husband, Pew is survived by sisters Sheila Albert of Santa Rosa and Jean Tyacke of Johannesburg, South Africa, and numerous nephews, nieces and their children.


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