Mary Alice O'Connor served on the Burbank Unified School District Board of Education from 1961 to 1971, and later was instrumental in reopening the Starlight Bowl in 1992. Throughout that time she sold tickets to the Hollywood Bowl, introducing children and teens to classical music as the first chairwoman of the Children's Open House.
For decades, it seemed, nothing happened to service organizations without the guiding hand of Mary Alice O'Connor, regarded as the matriarch of local nonprofits and social organizations. J.P. O'Connor said that while "volunteer" is listed in labor codes as a job category, it is defined as "uncompensated worker."
"Mom would disagree," said J.P. O'Connor. "The compensation she's gotten through all the years are so many wonderful friends and experiences."
The mother-daughter duo were honored as Burbank's Women of the Year in 2002 by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) along with eight other women from the district.
Mary Alice O'Connor continued to serve throughout the decade on boards of the Burbank Health Care Foundation and the Family Service Agency of Burbank, with memberships on the La Providencia Guild of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles, KCET Women's Council, Civic Pride Committee, National Charity League Burbank Chapter and the Burbank YWCA.
Born in Berkeley, Mary Alice O'Connor attended girls' schools in the Bay Area and Sacramento when her mother served as a special assistant to Gov. C.C. Young. Her interest in community involvement, education and business developed through conversations with friend Irving Martin, publisher of the Stockton Record.