About Us

Long Beach Cancer League - A Brief History

In the fall of 1974, Bette Lee Severson, who had terminal cancer, called Laura Killingsworth, her best friend and asked her for a favor. She wanted to use Laura's home and her help with this new idea she had. They made a list of friends and invited them to Laura's home to hear about creating a Cancer League for fundraising and awareness. Fifty ladies gathered together on that warm autumn day, and Betty poured forth her ideas. Only a few of those present were aware that Betty was living on borrowed time.

Shortly thereafter, Betty, Frani Ridder and her mother Yo Yo Armour, along with Sandy Gill met at Lia Gaspar's home. They discussed fundraising ideas and Frani spoke of a dinner dance she chaired in New York, where an auction of services was held during the intermission. Bingo! That was it! They all admitted later they didn't know what they were getting into! The event was held at the Ridder Estate, where the grounds were massive and included, among other things, a tennis court.

That answered the question of where to stage the event. The first year, the kitchen was a disaster, complete with grease on the ceiling, and with every fuse blown, the lights went out on the tennis court. But it was the beginning of a great organization. Some of the top bid items: A Long Beach Street to be named ($6,500), a round of golf for two with Bob Hope ($2,600), and a 15.0 troy ounce of pure gold ($9,100). And so the seed that was planted by Betty Lee Severson grew up to become the Long Beach Cancer League, whose fundraising event continues.

To date, the Long Beach Cancer League has raised over $11 million for the American Cancer Society's life-saving programs for research, education, prevention, early detection, advocacy, and free services to patients and their families.



The women listed below have held the position of President of the Long Beach Cancer League. We honor them for their leadership. The legacy of their efforts will forever live on through each and every one of our League members.

Thank you ladies.

Betty Lee Severson (1975-1976) Janet Cree (1992-1993) Janet Foley (2003-2006)
Franni Ridder (1977-1978) Sandi Jackson (1994) Virgie Barnes (2007)
Sandy Gill (1979-1980) Barbara Gaylord (1995) Elaine Davis (2008-2011)
Laura Leff (passed) (1981) Georgianna Kolsky (1996) Myrna Wigod (2012)
Fern Poe (1982-1983) Lyn Epstein (1997) Myrna Simon (2013)
Rose Hamm (1984-1985) Vickie Sullos (1998) Judy Cooper (2014)
Lynne Pillsbury (1986) Jeri Goldstein (1999) Judy Cooper (2015)
Jill Rosenberg (1987-1988) Linda Lassers (2000) Judy Cooper and Elaine Davis (2016)
Mary Klingensmith (1989-1990) Helen Roelfsema (2001) Patty Gadd and Jeannette Rampino (2017)
Betty Anne Kirkpatrick (1991) Lynne Pillsbury (2002)